By Pastor Andrew Poe
“Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids."
- CS Lewis The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe
Above are the opening lines of the first book in the series The Chronicles of Narnia. As I was contemplating this past school year, this book came to mind. I recalled the setting and time of this amazing tale – it all took place nearly 80+ years ago during the time when children from London were evacuated from the city because of the Blitz. Parents sent their children to live with strangers in rural towns outside of the city. Yet, in this story Lewis created, these four young evacuees discovered the magical world of Narnia in the old manor house to which they were sent to live. The children would never have discovered the land of Narnia where Aslan (the Christ figure) reigned had they not been forced to leave their home.
Looking back at the 2020-2021 school year, it is not crazy to equate our experience to a war. Perhaps it was not a worldwide conflict, but the global pandemic did bring its own set of fears, sacrifices, and even casualties. Yet, through this time, I pray all of us – but particularly our children – were able to get a glimpse of some magic. Often in our lives, it is only through darkness that we can see the light. But we often have to walk through the darkness to find it.
We are now at the end of the dark tunnel and moving into a new phase of life. For children, school is ending, and summer vacation is beginning. But we are all in a transition period (as COVID numbers decrease and mandates change almost on a daily basis). And so, this is another opportunity for an adventure! I pray that as you make this transition – and help your children make this transition – you will find true rest and peace.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you catch the new “Shape Show Summer Series” (something for both children and adults alike...in fact, the current one features Mary at the beach!). I shifted gears this week and decided to focus on REST as the main topic for June. That is certainly something we all need at this time: true rest. Be aware, though, “rest” does not mean laziness that comes after the chaotic pace of “busyness”. Rest is the ability – even in times of activity – to find peace in our Savior and Prince of Peace. Deep breathing, times of silence, and prayer are important habits to begin with your children as you start off this vacation season. Consider ways you can provide the space for grace in your lives – carving time between camps and trips and video games to find actual moments where your children can stop and rest and enjoy times with Jesus on their own! It is in times alone ... even “bored” ... when children can make awesome, creative discoveries – about God, the world, and themselves! Being at rest allows for God to direct us in ways we may not have imagined; it opens us up to the Spirit so that we can go and bless others.
It reminds me of the story of Elijah in I Kings 19:11-13. This is when God confronts and strengthens Elijah. Elijah had just escaped from a dangerous situation and was convinced that he was alone. He was scared and depressed. Yet, God met Elijah in that personal turmoil and told Elijah to stand on the mountain to meet with Him. And it says in the passage that a strong wind came tearing at the mountain – but the Lord (Yahweh) was not in the wind; then an earthquake came – but the Lord (Yahweh) was no in the earthquake; then came fire – but the Lord (Yahweh) was not in the fire. Finally, after the fire came a still small voice. This was the voice of the Lord. And – in the end – God told Elijah to GO and serve for he was NOT alone!
God meets with us in a similar fashion at times. In Psalm 46:10 the Lord (Yahweh) says “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still and resting allows for God to meet with us in new and special ways. While God did reveal himself throughout history in windstorms, earthquakes, and fire – he met with his child, the prophet Elijah, in a way that was uniquely intimate. He desires to do the same with us and our children. I pray we all can find time to do that this summer – resting in Christ because, as Matthew 11:28 states, we can come to Jesus and know he will give us rest! If we are children of God through Jesus, we are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)! This is what true peace and rest is all about. And – while I pray you can find that rest by carving out moments in your life for prayer, reading, solitude – know that the rest and peace Christ offers comes even while we are changing diapers, making dinner, fixing the car, running errands, and trying to pile the kids into the car for yet another soccer game. Christ offers us peace even while the life around us is anything but peaceful.
Thus, as you switch gears – ending this overwhelming school year and beginning a new season with a new rhythm – I pray you find peace and rest in Christ Jesus...and perhaps – like in Lewis’ fantastical story – even a bit of magic!