“There I have a different name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” -Aslan
When I first landed back on American soil, I felt like I had stepped out of the wardrobe. Not that Bolivia is like Narnia by any means (if you go there with those expectations, you will be sorely disappointed), but because I felt a lot like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. In the words of Howard and Bonnie Lisech, a couple that spends their lives equipping missionaries for the field:
“In Narnia, they had experienced the breathtaking beauty of the place and its citizens; they had discovered things about themselves they had not known before; they had conquered evil; they had known love on new and different levels…”
I may not have traveled on the back on a centaur or the breath of a lion. I surely was not crowned queen of anything. Our banquet feasts consisted less of fresh, rich foods and more of whatever we could throw together from our pantry.
But, I was given an opportunity to step into a different, mysterious world. I did witness breathtaking beauty on the tops of mountains and in quiet conversations with friends. I was exposed to the reality of my own sin and my desperate need for a Savior. I stared evil straight in the face on the streets of El Alto. And I came to know Love more than I ever have through presence, sacrifice and gratitude.
What a strange, gorgeous life I lived in Bolivia.
As I gingerly place my two feet outside of the wardrobe, I can’t help but doubt and ask questions.
Did this year mean anything? Did I accomplish anything? Did I make a difference?
Why has everything changed?
Throughout my year in Bolivia, I reread all seven books in C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece, The Chronicles of Narnia. It gave my mind a place to escape to when life got tough. It was my refuge, a place where God showed up in the thoughts of sweet Lucy, the sacrifice of Aslan, and the battle won for all of time.
So as I wrestle and doubt and fear and question, I cannot help but return to one conversation between a sobbing Lucy and a gentle Aslan.
I am Lucy, as tears fall, fearful of the future, leaving Narnia, saying goodbye to Aslan in that sacred place.
Aslan tenderly reassures Lucy, “This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
God was there in Bolivia. I got to know Him better there for a little while. In the midst of the suffering and joy that was this wild year, “the Father knows me and I know the Father.” (John 10:15)
Of all the tasks accomplished at work for justice, Bible studies performed, brothels and survivors and perpetrators prayed over, blog posts written, mountains summited, and relationships developed, they are mere dust in comparison with the eternal glory of knowing God.
All our striving and hustling is secondary to the worthy prize of knowing Him.
If I was sent to Bolivia for no other reason, if all other things fade away, if my striving adds up to nothingness, then it is not in vain. For this very reason I was sent to Bolivia: to know Him better. And because of my time there, I now know Him better here. With a heart more open to His will than it has ever been, my deepest desire is to know Him better with each passing season, in whatever wardrobe or world I step into.
My prayer for you is that in whatever wild season you may find yourself, you will know Him better there.