Our current series of devotions was written by Cherolyn Amery from INcontext International.
18 September 2017
WEEK 10: Farewell to Shadowlands
“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4)
I have a clear childhood memory of a Sunday School class in which the teacher asked us: “Who wants to go to heaven?” Everyone else put up their hands; I didn’t, which raised some eyebrows. At that point, my impression of heaven was shaped by what I had seen in pictures: fluffy pink clouds, ornate golden gates and baby angels. And that didn’t really appeal to me.
Some years later, I read The Last Battle by CS Lewis (the final instalment of the Narnia series). And his fictional description of ‘heaven’ in the last chapter (entitled “Farewell to Shadowlands”) was something I had never encountered before – all the colours were deeper, the air was richer and brighter, and everything was more alive than anything the characters in the story had ever experienced. It was all somehow familiar, but more REAL. One of the characters says: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…”
Aslan, the lion character in the Narnia series who represents Jesus, tells the characters in the story that the world they had known had been the “Shadowlands”. This idea can be easily traced to the Bible, in which there are multiple references to things on earth being a “shadow” of what is to come. As the characters meet Aslan in ‘heaven’, he tells them: “The term is over: the holidays have begun… the dream is ended: this is the morning.”
While the Chronicles of Narnia is a work of fiction, I am convinced that CS Lewis was gifted with a measure of insight into what it is going to be like. And unlike the child-me who wasn’t that taken with the idea of heaven, everything in me looks forward with excitement to a future when “what is mortal [will] be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4). I love how this phrase turns everything we know in this world on its head – on earth, life is treasured but it is always subject to mortal decay; for believers in Jesus Christ, mortality is going to be “swallowed up by life”.
CS Lewis closed The Last Battle with this final passage: “All their life in this world and all their adventures 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.” This, surely, is life eternal in the presence of Jesus Christ.
WEEK 7: What’s In It For Me?
WEEK 8: What’s It All For?
WEEK 9: The Body of Christ
WEEK 4: “You Bring the Water, I’ll Make the Wine”
WEEK 5: Move Aside
WEEK 6: Jesus, Man of Joy
WEEK 1: Lord and Master
WEEK 2: The Good Thing vs. the God-Thing
WEEK 3: Delight Yourself in the Lord