Friday, February 8, 2008

Seeing Through Temptations

If you've never read C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, I highly, highly recommend that you do so now. These books, written for children and youth, are just as enjoyable to me now as they were when I first read them 27 years ago. They are so full of Christian symbolism, the conflict of good vs. evil, and they tell a great story.
Kimball just finished reading the series and we decided to check out some of the books on CD from our library to enjoy on a recent road trip. It made me want to reread the books immediately, even though my list of "to-read" books right now is very long.
One particular scene in The Magician's Nephew stood out to me. Aslan has sent the boy, Diggory, to get an apple from the tree of youth. If planted in Narnia, this apple would protect the land from evil for a long time. The gate to enter the garden where the tree grows gives specific instructions that the fruit is not to be taken for one's self; that the thief who steals it for himself will find "their hearts desire and despair." As Diggory plucks the fruit and prepares to leave the garden and return to Aslan, the Witch, Empress Jadis, comes to tempt him. She first tells him what the fruit will do for him if he eats of it--"Eat it, and you and I will both live forever and be King and Queen of this whole world."
When Diggory declines, saying that he'd just as soon not live on after those he loves have died, she changes tactics. She reminds Diggory of his sick and dying mother, "Do you not see, Fool, that one bite of that apple would heal her? We are here by ourselves and the Lion is far away. Use your Magic and go back to your own world. A minute later, you can be at your Mother's bedside, giving her the fruit. . . . Soon she will be quite well again. All will be well again. Your home will be happy again. You will be like other boys." OOOOO, isn't she crafty? Jadis knew that the one thing Diggory wanted most was to have his mother be healed and to return to "normal life."
Diggory is able to shake off her seductive words when something she says in her silky, sweet voice exposes her. She tells him to leave his friend, Polly, behind in Narnia, so that no one need ever know about his treachery. "The meanness of the suggestion that he should leave Polly behind suddenly made all the other things the Witch had been saying to him sound false and hollow." He realizes that the Witch really is looking out for herself--if Diggory fulfills his task given him by Aslan, he will be protecting Narnia from her, and preventing her from ruling in treachery.
As he leaves the witch to finish his errand, her words change from sweet sophistry to derision, "Go then, Fools, . . . think of me, boy, when you lie old and weak and dying, and remember how you threw away the chance of endless youth! It won't be offered you again."
Just like Diggory, we are constantly called upon to face the temptations of evil. Often, they are subtle and disguised in sweet, silky voices. Satan is constantly striving to pull us away from that which is good, from the things that will bless our lives and the lives of others. He whispers to us that we needn't heed what God has told us.
Thankfully, we are not without the ability to discern this craftiness as evil. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance," (John 14:26). God has given us the Holy Ghost to teach us right from wrong and to help us discern.
The Book of Mormon teaches, "For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." (Moroni 7:16)
In the end, after Aslan has planted the tree in Narnia, he plucks an apple from the new tree and gives it to Diggory. The apple heals his mother, although it does not give the endless youth that the witch has promised. This reminded me how much we need to trust the Lord that He has a plan for us that is better than any that we could come up with on our own. If we are obedient to him, he "doth immediately bless" us (Mosiah 2:24), more abundantly than our small mortal minds can imagine.
I am so grateful that we have been given this gift, the Holy Ghost, so that we may see through the temptations of the devil and choose the good.


Rebecca said...

I love the Chronicles of Narnia, and this is a beautiful post.

mindyluwho said...

I too love the Narnia series. I love the symbolism portrayed and the deep understanding it can give, yet it can also be just a fun adventure story for the younger generation, until they are ready to see more. The part you quote is one of my favorites as it portrays all the subtlety that the adversary uses. Very insightful post!

Mary Woodman said...

Thank you...I need to reread the Narnia series. It's been a long time. I loved your post!!