OK, so, here’s the problem. First off, there is this creepy, old, mostly unused bedroom. It smells fusty, like it has been closed-up for a century – or maybe longer. There is almost no light getting through the heavily curtained window and only a tiny bit more when the drapes are pulled aside, as it is pouring rain outside and the clouds are looming, dark. The occasional flash of lightning piercing the gloom isn’t exactly inviting either. At the far end of the room stands this really, really big, dark, foreboding wardrobe. As you approach, the carvings seem to shapeshift and sneer, daring you to edge closer. The wooden door handles look like some monstrous beasts from the distant past (no, that’s just fear messing with you – really messing with you!) After counting to ten, all the while holding your breath, you reach out for the now non-monster handles, and pull. Of course, the door is stuck, so you have to pull harder. And, of course, when it gives way, it swings open with one of those long, eerily chilling, complaining creaks that makes you take a step back – just in case. It is even darker inside the wardrobe than in the room, and the reek of mothballs makes you scrunch up your nose and turn your head aside for a breath of, well, air that isn’t much better, frankly. The deed done, you cautiously step in, instantly frightened by the brushing up against an old coat. And there are more coats: fur coats, woolen coats, men’s coats, ladies’ coats. Now hemmed in by darkness and aggressed by ancient coat sleeves, you determine to push on anyway, hoping against hope for something – you’re not sure what exactly. And then . . . !
With apologies to C.S. Lewis, this re-imagined scene from his The Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe, is my take on the ploy of our Enemy when it comes to our going to our own land of Narnia:* prayer. Prayer is often experienced early on as boring, archaic, non-productive, necessitating the mastery of a dust-laden, 17th Century English vocabulary. Entering into it sometimes has all the appeal of that malodorous, dimly lit, attic bedchamber. And it seems it often becomes, shockingly, like a free-for-all of distracting thoughts and ideas and urgencies (a potty break during prayer?), as well as embarrassingly inappropriate scenarios. Worse, persevering seems, initially, to invite more darkness, more confusion, more pointlessness. This frequently leads, much to Satan’s grim satisfaction, to an abandonment of all but the briefest send-ups, little nods to God (just saying Hi! No time to stop and visit today).
Our Enemy knows that, should we once push past the ‘coats’ and off-putting ambiance, seeing that they were simply smoke screens set in place to keep us from the ‘discovery,’ we will never again be able to un-see the glorious vistas of our Narnia, we will never again be able to un-know the Power connection that is prayer, we will never again be able to un-feel the warmth of Jesus’ loving approval there. But we will forever discover our soul’s true Home. We feel the shadows deepen (we do), but we have a very, very long list of divine superlatives standing at the ready to vaporize them, as we invite the King of Glory to come in. ‘Open up the gates and let the music play, let the streets resound with singing…’ PD