My daughter and I finished reading The Last Battle last night. I’ve read it before, of course—at least four times, in fact. But This time, as I read it with Hannah, something hit me differently as I came to the last paragraph:
And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.1
I don’t know what it was about reading them this time—maybe it was Hannah’s sadness that we were all done with the Narnia stories for now—but this paragraph struck me more profoundly than any other time I’ve read it.
I’ve been sitting around thinking about this for some time now, wondering why it’s sticking with me so strongly this time around. What was it I was feeling? It wasn’t the sadness my daughter feels about being done. I think if I had to put a word to it, it would be longing. What C.S. Lewis managed to capture here is the expectation all Christians should have for what is to come—the new creation. The world as it will be when Christ has come once again to make all things new. The renewed and restored world that is more real than this one.
The world that we know is coming, but is not yet here.
And this longing for the new creation, the expectation we have of what we gain a glimpse of in Revelation, puts all our lives in perspective: for though the experiences we have here now matter, they are not the full story. Compared to eternity, they are, to borrow Lewis’ analogy, but the cover and the title page of the Great Story. And we have not yet begun the first chapter.
This longing is hope. It’s hope that the promised return is coming soon. That all the sin and sadness and death and doubts and fears and nonsense we all deal with every single day will someday be no more. That someday we will begin that first chapter, and like Lewis’ creations, we too will find that every chapter is better than the one before.