Sailing Unto Glory: Christian Perseverance Insights from C.S. Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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This is the third post in a series concerning The Chronicles of Narnia novels.

This third post concerns the third novel Lewis wrote about Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In this third story, Lewis vividly illustrates temptation, perseverance, and trusting God in the Christian faith.

For those who are wanting to see a sort of table of contents, here are the ten insights from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The first three concern pride, as Lewis illustrates it so well in the character of Eustace. Then two of the insights are about temptation in general. And then many of the final insights have to do with heaven, a desire to go there, and Christian perseverance.

1. Pride is Ugly
2. Pride Produces Much Rotten Fruit
3. God Lovingly but Painfully Humbles Those with Pride
4. There are Particular Temptations for Each of Us
5. God Protects and Delivers in Temptation
6. How Beautiful Heaven Will Be!
7. God is Both the Fearful Lion and the Saving Lamb
8. The Goal of All the Stories is to Know Jesus the “I Am”
9. You Should Desire to Go to Heaven, but You’ll Go in God’s Timing
10. The Happiness of Persevering All the Way to Glory

1. Pride is Ugly

It is no surprise that in the Narnian book possibly most concerned with sin, temptation, and perseverance, Lewis focuses so much on pride. In his famous work, Mere Christianity, Lewis helpfully argues that pride is the essence of all sin. And he shows that pride on full display in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the character of Eustace.

This pride shows up over and over in the first half of the book. He is simply not a nice boy, and he looks down on others. His pride is especially evident when Eustace thinks he’s better than others (29) and when he thinks it is always others’ faults when bad things happen (45).

Instance after instance could be recorded of Eustace’s pride, but for now I will just comment that Lewis is clearly trying to convey this pride as ugly, or gross, or distasteful. When you read it, you’re drawn to the courage of Edmund or the kindness of Lucy, and you’re repulsed by the ugliness of Eustace’s pride.

This is an applicable insight from Lewis because he doesn’t want us to think that pride is just wrong. Instead, it is ugly. It affects people. It must be dealt with. And in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he shows how God truly can humble those in pride.

2. Pride Produces Much Rotten Fruit

But before Lewis illustrates the humbling of pride, he first shows the many negative results that pride brings. Eustace not only is prideful in his heart, it affects who he is. Lewis wants to show that his internal rottenness brings out rotten fruit.

First, Eustace’s pride leads him to complain all the time. This shows up especially in his diary. Below is his first diary entry. You can hear his complaining over and over again:

August 7th. Have now been 24 hours on this ghastly boat if it isn't a dream. All the time a frightful storm has been raging (it's a good thing I'm not seasick). Huge waves keep coming in over the front and I have seen the boat nearly go under any number of times. All the others pretend to take no notice of this, either from swank or because Harold says one of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to Facts. It's madness to come out into the sea in a rotten little thing like this. Not much bigger than a lifeboat. And, of course, absolutely primitive indoors. No proper saloon, no radio, no bathrooms, no deck-chairs. I was dragged all over it yesterday evening and it would make anyone sick to hear Caspian showing off his funny little toy boat as if it was the Queen Mary...I've been put in the worst cabin of the boat, a perfect dungeon, and Lucy has been given a whole room on deck to herself...The food is frightful too” (30-31).

Second, Eustace’s pride leads him to be unthankful. At one point, Lucy very kindly gave her some of her water rations—something that shows her graciousness, especially considering the nastiness of Eustace. And this is Eustace’s response in his diary:

“Lucy gives me a little of her water ration. She says girls don't get as thirsty as boys. I had often thought this but it ought to be more generally known at sea” (74-75).

Third, Eustace’s pride leads him to be foolish. When the ship is anchored and they were planning on what to do on the island, Eustace could only think of himself. And it ended up leading him to make a dumb decision:

“As Eustace lay under a tree and heard all these plans being discussed his heart sank. Was there going to be no rest? It looked as if their rest day on the longed-for land was going to be quite as hard work as a day at sea. Then a delightful idea occurred to him. Nobody was looking—they were all chattering about their ship as if they actually liked the beastly thing. Why shouldn't he simply slip away? He would take a stroll inland, and a cool, airy place up in the mountains, have a good long sleep, and not rejoin the others till the day's work was over” (78).

Fourth, Eustace’s pride leads him to be greedy. This is the last straw in his pride in the book. Eustace finds all this treasure, and he sleeps on top of it. Lewis writes,

“Sleeping on a dragon's hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself” (91).

And I think that this is Lewis’ major point about pride in the book: Pride turns you into a beast. He illustrated this clearly with Eustace. Eustace was so selfish, he complained all the time, he was foolish, he was greedy—and it ended up turning him into a beast.

3. God Lovingly but Painfully Humbles Those with Pride

Yet once Eustace realized he was a beast, there was hope of change. This is where Lewis’ insights on pride turn very hopeful.

After his shipmates recognized that the dragon was Eustace himself, they wondered how in the world they could continue to care for him. And it is here that Lewis narrates his point:

“They tried not to talk of it when he was there, but he couldn't help overhearing things like, ‘Would he fit all along one side of the deck? And we'd have to shift all the stores to the other side down below so as to balance,’ or, ‘Would towing him be any good?’ or ‘Would he be able to keep up by flying?’ and (most often of all), ‘But how are we to feed him?’ And poor Eustace realized more and more that since the first day he came on board he had been an unmitigated nuisance and that he was now a greater nuisance still” (104).

Eustace realized his pride and how he was a nuisance. As he would later admit, “I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly” (110). This is the first step. But how could he rid himself of the pride?

Aslan. Only Aslan could do it. Eustace at first tried taking off his beastly skins, but it kept going. But then Aslan offered to do it for him. Eustace recounted the situation like this:

“‘Then the lion said—but I don't know if it spoke—"You will have to let me undress you.” I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.’ ‘I know exactly what you mean,’ said Edmund. ‘Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt—and there it was lying on the grass’” (108-109).

Eustace admitted he was desperate. He couldn’t pull his pride off himself. But Aslan could. Yes, it hurt—Eustace even said it was worse than anything he’d ever felt—but he knew the goodness in it. He knew the pleasure of it. Aslan was able to humble him in his pride.

I also love how Lewis has Edmund chip in with, “I know exactly what you mean.” This brings us back to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Edmund’s pride. Edmund didn’t turn into a dragon, but he himself painfully had to see the results of his pride. And just as with Eustace, only Aslan could change him as well.

In sum, Lewis’ insights about pride are very interesting and convicting, but most importantly, they are very biblical. The Bible has much to say about pride, but one cannot help but think that Daniel 4 was in Lewis’ mind as he was writing about Eustace. In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar is so full of himself that God says that in order to humble him, he literally will become a beast. And he does (Daniel 4:28-33). But then once he realizes that God is God, and he is not, he is humbled and brought back to his normal self (Daniel 4:34-37).

But then the chapter ends with these beautiful words from Nebuchadnezzar—words which Eustace, Edmund, myself, and everyone else who has struggled with pride can gladly can attest to:

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

All of God’s ways are right. And the good news for us is that he is able to humble those who walk in pride. We each can build up beastly skins of pride on us like Eustace. But we have a loving God who is willing and able to lovingly, albeit painfully, undress us.

4. There are Particular Temptations for Each of Us

Once Eustace is healed, Lewis moves on from the pervasive sin of pride and focuses on specific temptations. As the children sail eastward and stop on the various islands, they encounter different scenarios and enticements.

The Dangerous Temptation of Greed

On one of the islands, they find a pool of water with magical powers. Whenever anything hits the water, the object turns to gold. When you are reading the narration, it is clear that they are amazed by what they see. The end of a rod they dipped in the water turned to gold; and the toe end of Edmund’s shoes turn to gold. And they even see a body of solid gold at the bottom of the pond, showing that one of the old lords from Caspian’s land had fallen in. But you don’t sense the greed aspect of it at first as you’re reading.

But that all changes when Caspian decides to test it to see if it can really turn anything into gold. Once the test shows that it truly can turn anything into gold, greed enters in.

‘The King who owned this island,’ said Caspian slowly, and his face flushed as he spoke, ‘would soon be the richest of all the Kings of the world. I claim this land for ever as a Narnian possession. It shall be called Goldwater Island. And I bind all you to secrecy. No one must know of this. Not even Drinian—on pain of death, do you hear?’ ‘Who are you talking to?’ said Edmund. ‘I'm no subject of yours. If anything it's the other way round. I am one of the four ancient sovereigns of Narnia and you are under allegiance to the High King my brother.’ ‘So it has come to that, King Edmund, has it?’ said Caspian, laying his hand on his sword-hilt.” (127-128).

Their greed turns them against each other. It’s shocking because Edmund and Caspian have always been so for one another. But this temptation really struck them both. (And they would’ve probably fought, if they weren’t stopped by Aslan.)

The Dangerous Temptation to Vanity

Lucy interrupted Edmund and Caspian when they were tempted to greed, but she soon was about to be tempted herself. When she was reading the Magician’s Book she comes across a spell she can say that would “make beautiful her that uttereth it beyond the lot of mortals” (153). The Book then shows her what would happen if she uttered it. She would be even more beautiful than Susan—even to the point where Susan would be “jealous of the dazzling beauty of Lucy” (154). (And Lucy gets so close to saying it, but she is stopped by Aslan.)

The Temptation to Fear

Finally, on the Dark Island most of the characters are tempted to fear unto despair. They all want to turn back. Only Reepicheep (who is the emblem of perseverance in the book) wants to continue on, trusting in Aslan.

So these all show that we are each tempted to sin in various and numerous ways. Lewis illustrated this well with greed, vanity, and fear.

5. God Protects and Delivers in Temptation

Yet the point above about the particular temptations for each of us only sets up the larger point that Lewis wanted to make. And it is that God can deliver us in the time of temptation. He makes this crystal clear because in each of the temptations listed above, it is Aslan who suddenly intervenes and keeps them from going further down the path of sin.

With Edmund and Caspian and the temptation to greed, Lucy stepped in and told them to stop. But as she was speaking, she saw something:

‘Oh, stop it, both of you,’ said Lucy. ‘That's the worst of doing anything with boys. You're all such swaggering, bullying idiots—oooh!——' Her voice died away into a gasp. And everyone else saw what she had seen. Across the grey hillside above them—grey, for the heather was not yet in bloom—without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen. In describing the scene Lucy said afterwards, ‘He was the size of an elephant,’ though at another time she only said, ‘The size of a cart-horse.’ But it was not the size that mattered. Nobody dared to ask what it was. They knew it was Aslan. And nobody ever saw how or where he went. They looked at one another like people waking from sleep. ‘What were we talking about?’ said Caspian. ‘Have I been making rather an ass of myself?’ (128-129).

Aslan’s presence makes them move on. He takes away the pull of the temptation. In fact, Aslan even altered their minds a bit to confuse their desire for greed. After they really couldn't remember what they were talking about, Lewis writes, “They had not much to tell him for the memory of the last hour had all become confused” (129). Aslan protected them from greed.

The same protection was abundant with Lucy’s temptation to vanity. After she saw how amazing it would be to be prettier than Susan, she was set on saying the spell (even though she knew it probably wasn’t right):

“‘I will say the spell,’ said Lucy. ‘I don't care. I will.’ She said I don't care because she had a strong feeling that she mustn't” (154).

But then Aslan protected her:

“But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming towards her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterwards that it hadn't really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once” (154).

Aslan lovingly showed up at just the right time for Lucy, as he did with Edmund and Caspian.

Finally, Aslan worked in the temptation to fear as well. When they were on the Dark Island and all seemed lost, Lucy was the one who prayed to Aslan. Everyone else was saying that they’d never get out, but Lucy turned to him. And right after that, they started getting out. Here’s the account:

“Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, ‘Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.’ The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better. ‘After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,’ she thought. ‘Look!’ cried Rynelf's voice hoarsely from the bows. There was a tiny speck of light ahead, and while they watched a broad beam of light fell from it upon the ship. It did not alter the surrounding darkness, but the whole ship was lit up as if by a searchlight. Caspian blinked, stared round, saw the faces of his companions all with wild, fixed expressions. Everyone was staring in the same direction: behind everyone lay his black, sharply-edged shadow.

Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, ‘Courage, dear heart’, and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face” (186-187).

Aslan was represented by the albatross. He was responding to their fear. He delivered them. Even though the others didn’t fully know it, Lucy did. Right after they made it out, Lord Rhoop said to Caspian, “You have destroyed it [the Dark Island]!” (190). And to this, Lucy rightly replies, “I don’t think it was us” (189).

In all these accounts, Lewis beautifully shows that not only is there a way out of every temptation, but that God himself can deliver us. It isn’t only that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). But it also is that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptations” (2 Peter 2:9). God rescues from temptation. Lewis illustrates this wonderfully.

And it is especially important to hold this truth tightly as we as Christians think about how we will each make our way to glory. The journey to glory is long—or as Jesus said, it is narrow and hard (Matthew 7:14)—but thanks be to God that he is with us, delivering us from temptations we’d give in to all the time. Jude said it so well: “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling away and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

6. How Beautiful Heaven Will Be!

As the sailors make it closer to the Aslan’s country, Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader makes more insights about heaven and God. And in typical Lewis fashion, he doesn’t just describe it with propositions, he uses powerful imagery.

The Loveliest Story

In the Magician’s Book, Lucy comes to a spell that shows her the loveliest story she’s ever read:

“On the next page she came to a spell ‘for the refreshment of the spirit’. The pictures were fewer here but very beautiful. And what Lucy found herself reading was more like a story than a spell. It went on for three pages and before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all. She was living in the story as if it were real, and all the pictures were real too. When she had got to the third page and come to the end, she said, ‘That is the loveliest story I've ever read or ever shall read in my whole life. Oh, I wish I could have gone on reading it for ten years. At least I'll read it over again.’ But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldn't turn back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left-hand pages could not” (156-157).

Lewis here, in this book about persevering unto glory, is giving a glimpse of what it might be like when we do enter heaven. It’ll be the ending (and the beginning!) to the loveliest story ever. And just in case you think I’m just over analyzing this, Lewis makes it clear a few pages later when Lucy is talking to Aslan:

“‘Shall I ever be able to read that story again; the one I couldn't remember? Will you tell it to me, Aslan? Oh do, do, do.’ ‘Indeed, yes, I will tell it to you for years and years. But now, come. We must meet the master of this house’” (160).

Staring Into the Sun Without Blinking

Then as they get even closer to the east and Aslan’s country, they start to experience the glory of it:

“Now, the light grew no less—if anything, it increased—but they could bear it. They could look straight up at the sun without blinking. They could see more light than they had ever seen before. And the deck and the sail and their own faces and bodies became brighter and brighter and every rope shone. And next morning, when the sun rose, now five or six times its old size, they stared hard into it and could see the very feathers of the birds that came flying from it” (230).

They were seeing beauty, and they were being changed so that they themselves could bear the beauty.

Running Up a Mountain, Wrestling with an Elephant

And as they travelled closer, the beauty got more and more captivating:

“There seemed no end to the lilies. Day after day from all those miles and leagues of flowers there rose a smell which Lucy found it very hard to describe; sweet—yes, but not at all sleepy or overpowering, a fresh, wild, lonely smell that seemed to get into your brain and make you feel that you could go up mountains at a run or wrestle with an elephant. She and Caspian said to one another, ‘I feel that I can't stand much more of this, yet I don't want it to stop’” (237).

A Sound So Good that It’ll Break Your Heart

Then as they are at the edge of Aslan’s country, they hear a beautiful sound:

"And suddenly there came a breeze from the east, tossing the top of the wave into foamy shapes and ruffling the smooth water all round them. It lasted only a second or so but what it brought them in that second none of those three children will ever forget. It brought both a smell and a sound, a musical sound. Edmund and Eustace would never talk about it afterwards. Lucy could only say, ‘It would break your heart.’ ‘Why,’ said I, ‘was it so sad?’ ‘Sad!! No,’ said Lucy” (243).

This is one of my favorite descriptions of heaven in the book. The children heard and smelt a taste of heaven. And they said afterwards that it would break your heart if you tasted it. But not because it was sad, but because it was so beautiful.

Becoming Like Children Again

Finally, as they paddle onward to the very edge of Aslan’s country, Lewis states that they start to feel like children again. He writes,

“And though they had felt—and been—very grown up on the Dawn Treader, they now felt just the opposite and held hands as they waded through the lilies” (245).

As Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

7. God is Both the Fearful Lion and the Saving Lamb

Yet the most stunning thing they see as they get to the very edge of glory is something very unique. Lewis describes,

“Between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles' eyes they could hardly look at it” (245).

So what was it? It was a lamb. Specifically, it was “the Lamb.” Lewis continues:

“They came on and saw that it was a Lamb. ‘Come and have breakfast,’ said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice. Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted. ‘Please, Lamb,’ said Lucy, "is this the way to Aslan's country?’ ‘Not for you,’ said the Lamb. ‘For you the door into Aslan's country is from your own world.’ ‘What!’ said Edmund. ‘Is there a way into Aslan's country from our world too?’ ‘There is a way into my country from all the worlds,’ said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane. ‘Oh, Aslan,’ said Lucy. ‘Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?’ ‘I shall be telling you all the time,’ said Aslan. ‘But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder’” (245-247).

Aslan is the Lion. And as Lewis made clear earlier in the book, he is not a “tame lion” (162). Yet at the same time, when they get closest to glory and Aslan’s country, he reveals himself to them as the tender Lamb. He says he is the Bridge Builder. That he provides the way into his country.

This is our God. Lewis captures it so well. He is both the fearful Lion and the saving Lamb (Revelation 4:5-6).

8. The Goal of All the Stories is to Know Jesus the “I Am”

At the end of the book as the children continue to talk to Aslan the lion and lamb, Lucy and Edmund ask him if they will ever come back to Narnia. Aslan answers them, and then he shares the reason for them even coming into Narnia ever in the first place. It is quite insightful. Here’s the dialogue:

“‘Please, Aslan,’ said Lucy. ‘Before we go, will you tell us when we can come back to Narnia again? Please. And oh, do, do, do make it soon.’ ‘Dearest,’ said Aslan very gently, ‘you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.’ ‘Oh, Aslan!!’ said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices. ‘You are too old, children,’ said Aslan, ‘and you must begin to come close to your own world now.’ ‘It isn't Narnia, you know,’ sobbed Lucy. ‘It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?’ ‘But you shall meet me, dear one,’ said Aslan. ‘Are—are you there too, Sir?’ said Edmund. ‘I am,’ said Aslan. ‘But there I have another 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’ (247).

I love this because it is both crystal clear and clever. It is clear that Aslan is not having them come to Narnia again. They are getting older. And the purpose of Narnia is for children to know him. But Lucy and Edmund still are to know him. And this is where it gets clever. They ask him if he is in their world, and he responds with, “I am.” And then he says he has another name there.

So this is why they were brought into Narnia—and this is why Lewis obviously wrote these books! “So that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” It’s all about knowing Jesus better and better.

The children wanted Aslan. This is what mattered to them. As Lucy said so well, “It’s you.” How could they live without him? This is what true Christianity is all about. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

9. You Should Desire to Go to Heaven, but You’ll Go in God’s Timing

The last two insights from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader concern entering glory itself. First, Caspian himself wants so badly to go to Aslan’s country, but it is clear that he shouldn’t. It isn’t his time. Here’s the long dialogue:

‘Friends...we have now fulfilled the quest on which you embarked...I am going with Reepicheep to see the World's End,’ said Caspian. A low murmur of dismay ran through the sailors. ‘We will take the boat,’ said Caspian. ‘You will have no need of it in these gentle seas and you must build a new one in Ramandu's island. And now——' ‘Caspian,’ said Edmund suddenly and sternly, ‘you can't do this.’ ‘Most certainly,’ said Reepicheep, ‘his Majesty cannot.’ ‘No indeed,’ said Drinian. ‘Can't?’ said Caspian sharply, looking for a moment not unlike his uncle Miraz. ‘Begging your Majesty's pardon,’ said Rynelf from the deck below, ‘but if one of us did the same it would be called deserting.’ ‘You presume too much on your long service, Rynelf,’ said Caspian. ‘No, Sire! He's perfectly right,’ said Drinian. ‘By the Mane of Aslan,’ said Caspian, ‘I had thought you were all my subjects here, not my schoolmasters.’ ‘I'm not,’ said Edmund, ‘and I say you can not do this.’ ‘Can't again,’ said Caspian. ‘What do you mean?’

‘If it please your Majesty, we mean shall not,’ said Reepicheep with a very low bow. ‘You are the King of Narnia. You break faith with all your subjects, and especially with Trumpkin, if you do not return. You shall not please yourself with adventures as if you were a private person. And if your Majesty will not hear reason it will be the truest loyalty of every man on board to follow me in disarming and binding you till you come to your senses.’ ‘Quite right,’ said Edmund. ‘Like they did with Ulysses when he wanted to go near the Sirens.’ Caspian's hand had gone to his sword hilt, when Lucy said, ‘And you've almost promised Ramandu's daughter to go back.’ Caspian paused. ‘Well, yes. There is that,’ he said. He stood irresolute for a moment and then shouted out to the ship in general. ‘Well, have your way. The quest is ended. We all return. Get the boat up again’” (238-240).

Through Caspian, Lewis here is making a biblical point about about the Christian and glory. Caspian clearly wants to go to Aslan’s country. He sees how wonderful it is. He thinks he has done his part. He has persevered and been faithful. But as everyone lets him know, it isn’t his time. He still has responsibilities.

It is clearly reminiscent of what the apostle Paul said when he was writing to the Philippians. He made it clear that he wanted to be with Christ, but that it was necessary to stay for the good of the people until Christ so chooses. Here is what Paul wrote, and you can hear the situation with Caspian echoed in his words,

“To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again” (Philippians 1:21-26).

Caspian wanted to go to glory, but it was necessary for him to remain and continue. His desire was good, it wasn’t wrong—of course he wants to go to Aslan’s country—but it wasn’t his time.

10. The Happiness of Persevering All the Way to Glory

Yet right after the dialogue with Caspian, there is a character, Reepicheep, who does enter into glory. And throughout the whole book, it was clear that he was the one who was persevering and on his way. He knew it, and he looked forward to it.

As they were getting closer to the end of the world, it was Reepicheep who got so excited about the sweetness of the water:

“‘Sweet!’ he cheeped. ‘Sweet, sweet!’ ‘What are you talking about?’ asked Drinian crossly. ‘And you needn't shake yourself all over me, either.’ ‘I tell you the water's sweet,’ said the Mouse. ‘Sweet, fresh. It isn't salt.’ For a moment no one quite took in the importance of this. But then Reepicheep once more repeated the old prophecy: ‘Where the waves grow sweet, Doubt not, Reepicheep, There is the utter East’” (228).

As they get closer and closer, his expectation and excitement grows even larger:

‘And what do you think will be waiting for us at the bottom [of the edge], eh?’ said Drinian. ‘Aslan's country perhaps,’ said the Mouse, its eyes shining. ‘Or perhaps there isn't any bottom. Perhaps it goes down for ever and ever. But whatever it is, won't it be worth anything just to have looked for one moment beyond the edge of the world’” (231).

Reepicheep knows it will be worth anything just to have one look.

Then towards the very end of the book, he finally enters into glory himself. It is a beautiful scene as he is full of joyful expectation:

“‘This,’ said Reepicheep, ‘is where I go on alone.’ They did not even try to stop him, for everything now felt as if it had been fated or had happened before. They helped him to lower his little coracle. Then he took off his sword ("I shall need it no more," he said) and flung it far away across the lilied sea. Where it fell it stood upright with the hilt above the surface. Then he bade them good-bye, trying to be sad for their sakes; but he was quivering with happiness. Lucy, for the first and last time, did what she had always wanted to do, taking him in her arms and caressing him. Then hastily he got into his coracle and took his paddle, and the current caught it and away he went, very black against the lilies. But no lilies grew on the wave; it was a smooth green slope. The coracle went more and more quickly, and beautifully it rushed up the wave's side. For one split second they saw its shape and Reepicheep's on the very top. Then it vanished, and since that moment no one can truly claim to have seen Reepicheep the Mouse. But my belief is that he came safe to Aslan's country and is alive there to this day. As the sun rose the sight of those mountains outside the world faded away. The wave remained but there was only blue sky behind it” (244).

The Mouse that trusted in Aslan had courage and excitement as he looked forward to glory, and he was “quivering with happiness” as he entered glory.

I love that Lewis doesn’t describe what Aslan’s country looked like for Reepicheep. That isn’t the point here. Instead, all we know is that it definitely was wonderful. The reader was getting taste after taste of it’s beauty throughout the book. And then at the end of it, someone finally gets there. Reepicheep makes it. It was all worth it. His courage, his trust, his perseverance all paid off. He made it.

So will it be for those who trust in Christ—for those who persevere unto glory. The Lion, Lamb, and 'I Am' will say to his pilgrims, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:23).