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Jim Langley: Surmising Shadowlands

Many agree that C.S. Lewis was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, continue to captivate children and adults to this day, and I imagine these stories will remain popular for centuries to come.

In his final novel in the series, entitled The Last Battle, Lewis ends the 16th chapter with an alluring description of the afterlife. Let me share the closing lines of that final chapter with you: “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

The term frequently used for afterlife by the main characters in the Narnia series is Shadowlands, which alludes to what lies beyond the veil of this life as we know it. In essence it declares a hope that cannot be described of a future heavenly existence for eternity.

There have been numerous books written on Heaven and supposed first-hand accounts from those who have left their earthly shells for a short time and had some sort of out-of-body experience. And, many theologians have attempted to describe what lies ahead — usually using John’s vivid vision found in the Book of Revelation.

Frankly, I like Lewis’ subtle approach in coining the word Shadowlands. In that final chapter of The Last Battle, entitled “Farewell to Shadowlands,” we find Lucy and her whole family have been killed in a train crash and they are once more with Aslan as they prepare to enter the Reality of Heaven.

Heaven is real, but no one can describe it, and I’m certainly not going to make an attempt to do so in these few paragraphs. Instead, let me reference what the Bible says in two accounts — one in the Book of Acts and the other in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.

Let’s first go to Acts 14:19-20 dealing with Paul being left for dead in Lystra by a mob, where we read, “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

Next, let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 where we read “I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know — God knows. And I know that this man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows — was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.”

In verse seven of this same chapter, Paul informs us he was given a thorn in the flesh, in order to keep him from boasting of this heavenly experience. In fact, he explains that he was buffeted by a messenger of Satan to keep him from exalting himself afterward.

Yes, there are mysteries that are meant to remain mysteries until we enter our proverbial Shadowlands. Lewis understood this and, frankly, I’m satisfied to simply know beyond the shadow of a doubt that paradise awaits those of us who have given control of our life to Christ.

We really don’t need to know any details of what awaits us in Paradise other than being certain that there will be no more suffering, no more pain and no more tears. That’s sufficient for me and I trust it works for you as well.

Do you have assurance of your salvation? Are you prepared to enter God’s kingdom or are you unwilling to accept His wonderful gift?

As I understand the gospel message, the good news, God gives us free will to either accept His plan of salvation or face the consequences of missing out on paradise and an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. All you must do is simply admit your sinful nature, turn away from the sin in your life and ask God to forgive you of your old nature. Christ did the rest on that cross 2,000 years ago!

Please do join us in Shadowlands.

Passages to Ponder

» Isaiah 25:6-8

» Luke 23:39-43

» 2 Corinthians 12:6-9

» 2 Peter 3:11-13

» Revelation 7:15-17

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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