As I write this in March more snow is forecast for the weekend! This made me think back to a prophetic picture my son painted for me 2 years ago which has been precious to me in ministry ever since. He knew that the C. S. Lewis’s books called Chronicles of Narnia are favourites of mine. No doubt this was in his mind as he drew this.
As a reminder the land of Narnia had been held in the grip of winter – “always winter and never Christmas” so we read in the book ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The White Witch cast her spell on Narnia, decreeing that it must be always winter and never Christmas. So when the four Pevensey children first arrive in this amazing place, the fields are covered with snow. But Aslan, the true king, who is a royal lion, has returned to save the Narnia kingdom from the White Witch. This change is seen in a scene with the children and the Narnians, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. Father Christmas arrives with sleigh bells jingling and at once the children and the beavers suspect that the White Witch is losing her powers.
“I’ve come at last,” said he. “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The witch’s magic is weakening.” And Lucy felt that deep shiver of gladness that you only get if you are being solemn and still.
This figure of snow melting is one way that Lewis describes the last stage of his own experience of religious conversion. He describes his own conversion, with all its fits and starts, in Surprised by Joy. He uses vivid words and images to describe his inner change of heart. “I felt as if I were a man of snow at long last beginning to melt.”
Lewis’s image of snow melting is a good one suggesting how someone’s coldness of heart may be slowly changed into a warmer, living heart for God. It’s no surprise that Lewis later used this image of snow enlarging it to a whole snowy kingdom under the White Witch’s spell. When the snow of Narnia melts, Lewis is suggesting how winter in our hearts gives way to a springtime of faith. It’s wonderful imagery and speaks today as clearly as ever.
The picture my son painted I believe for me portrayed a new season and challenge that God was moving me into. And the melting snow shows signs of life springing up along the way. It was and is very much a picture of hope as I daily try follow in the lion’s footsteps. You can probably guess that for Lewis the great lion Aslan is a picture of the Lord Jesus. It was also interesting to me that I was unable to see the lion’s face.
I believe for us as a Church united in Ipswich the message may well be the same. God is on the move, he is doing new things, and he wants us to follow faithfully in his footsteps, not running ahead of him. As we faithfully follow we will see hearts melted for Christ and new disciples being made.
I wanted to share this picture for everyone’s thoughts and prayers as I firmly believe that God is determined to work through his Church especially so in Ipswich. Let’s follow the Master, the King, and trust him to use us for his glory and his kingdom’s extension.
Nick Atkins is Rector of St Matthews, All Saints and Triangle Benefice, Ipswich and part of the Ipswich in prayer acountability group.
These blogs are written by different people from the IIP team. They are prompted by the things we talk about and pray about when we meet together and by words shared from the praying community in Ipswich.