This is one of my favorite posts that I’ve written so far. It is my favorite for the simple reason that I get to talk about my favorite book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis.
For those who don’t know, The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven books written about a fictional world that represents Christian life. It’s reminiscent of Pilgrim’s Progress in its deep symbolism, but honestly, much more interesting to read. Add to it that it’s all written in CS Lewis’s deeply profound and lyrical narration, and you have the perfect recipe for timeless bestsellers.
However, in the series, there is one character who has never been a favorite of mine.
Our introduction to Susan isn’t great – she’s a bit of a dud character trying to be mother to her siblings, having been sent to the English countryside to flee the London bombings of World War II. She appeases her younger sister like a pet rather than a person, and does little to prevent bullying in the little family of siblings.
As the series goes on, she shows prospects, settling into her role as a queen of Narnia and pursuing battles for justice alongside her siblings. Nevertheless, in my childhood opinion, Susan was by far the least interesting of the Pevensie children. Even throughout the two books she appears in, she remains the most stagnant out of her four siblings adventuring through Narnia.
However, we learn in the final book, The Last Battle, that, as the children got older and left Narnia, Susan had completely dismissed all of the things the children had learned and experienced during their reign. She does not join them in the last book because, as CS Lewis explains, she sees their memories as being nothing more than “imaginative play” and now her only cares are for “nylons, lipsticks and invitations.”
I remember reading that bit at age eleven and thinking,
“SERIOUSLY, SUSAN? NYLONS, LIPSTICKS AND INVITATIONS OVER NARNIA?!?”
The woman had been a QUEEN of NARNIA. How could she dismiss the battles she had won and the feasts she had celebrated and all of the many, many things she had learned and experienced while in Narnia? How could something that had remained so real to her siblings, become such a joke to her?
Something about Susan’s fate has remained eerily familiar to me as I’ve gotten older.
I realized – I know a lot of Susans.
As I grew up, what seems like an entire generation of peers around me, rejected something that used to be so real to us.
We reject the importance of God in our lives.
It’s been slow. Like Susan, very few woke up one morning and decided the whole thing was irrelevant in their lives. But one decision at a time, a generation of believers decided that human wills and desires were more important than God’s will in our lives. Ideas led to lingering thoughts, lingering thoughts led to actions, actions led to habits and habits became lifestyles.
My generation stopped reading our Bibles. The few times Bibles did emerge, it was something to check off a list or get a little “boost” of feeling like we were measuring up in our Christian lives. The few times we did pull out our Bibles, it wasn’t to gain wisdom or reach new understanding – it was to re-read what we already thought we knew. When I say “we stopped reading our Bibles” I don’t mean that it looked as blatant as it sounds – We stopped going to church because we decided we weren’t getting much out of it or didn’t have time anymore. We stopped being honest about our accountability because we didn’t want to be “judged” or told we were wrong. We stopped being vulnerable in our prayers and instead began to treat that time on our knees as nothing more than a petition, wishing on a magic lamp to give us the desires of our hearts.
The God that was so real to us growing up became nothing more than an accessory in our lives.
We pushed God from the foreground of our hearts and motives, and as a result, He became a distant memory that we eventually discredited as childhood imaginings.
I sit in conversations with peers who grew up shoulder-to-shoulder with me; I listen to how “impractical” it is to maintain a close relationship with God as we grow older. I hear arguments that they don’t want to read their Bibles because they feel like they know enough about what’s buried in the pages. I watch chins raise as declarations of knowing better than the parents who are “set in their ways” pour out of the same mouths that used to pray with me.
We are a generation worse than Susan Pevensie.
She exchanged the far away truth of Narnia for the “closer” fabrication of “nylons, lipstick and invitations.”
We’ve abolished the truth of God, who is close at hand, and exchanged it for the hopeful, far away happiness of living life “by our own rules.”
We grow up, we leave our parents’ homes and we decide that we know best, thinking that part of that best is living outside of what we’d always been taught.
What’s amazing is, Susan Pevensie actually experienced the truth that she denied. She lived in Narnia, and felt the Lion’s breath on her face. So many young Christians leave God behind, because they never really experienced the truth of Who He is – they just were told it was out there. But for those who knew – those who I really, truly think experienced God for Who He is and were drawing near to His heart – still often readily hand over the Love of Christ for the approval of the world.
We become like Jonah, whom God called by name to be a minister of His truth, and instead run the other direction.
We become like the people described in James 4:4 when he proclaims “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”
We become like Eve, standing near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, listening to the lies telling us “just try breaking the rule, you will surely not die.”
Young (and old, but I’m speaking from my experiences with young ones) Christians are divorcing Christ as our bridegroom and instead leaping into the sheets with the world.
This leap takes it’s form in choosing our own way rather than God’s. We become perfect illustrations of Romans 1:22 when it says, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and animals and creeping things.” This verse can sound like false idols like in the Old Testament, but it sounds a lot like “nylons, lipstick and invitations” to me.
“Nylons, lipstick and invitations” come in the form of anything contrary to God’s word that we prioritize over Him. “Nylons, lipstick and invitations” can be “porn, parties and drugs” or even sometimes less noticeably, “bad friend groups, social media worship and workaholics.”
Here’s the problem with all of this:
When we start chasing after these flimsy nylons, smearing lipsticks, and fleeting invitations of the world, we forget Who we really should be chasing.
Like Moses, we should chase after a life with God, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whos architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:9-10)
Like Esther, we should live in such dedication to our purpose in His kingdom, that we are willing to face a death penalty, recognizing that this, perhaps, is our ultimate calling on earth “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
Like Jesus’s first twelve disciples, who left everything behind them, we should strive to pursue God’s will in our lives, even to the ends of the earth. (Mark 16:15)
The perfect way to waste your life is by chasing after pursuits God never intended for you.