The Horse and His Boy: God is Sovereign, God is Good

Though the Horse and His Boy is not a well known work of Lewis’ it is an astounding work of fiction that, in my opinion, applies to all people no matter what age.  Shasta, the main character, has always thought of himself as an unfortunate boy, especially in light of his past events where he seemed to get left out.  The scene I want to address in this book finds Shasta as low as one can be, feeling so sorry for himself and his circumstances, that tears began rolling down his face.  What happened next put this to a direct stop.

Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him.  It was pitch dark and he could see nothing.  And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly feel any footfalls.  What he could hear was breathing.  His invisible companion seemed the breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature.  And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there.  It was a horrible shock.[1]

After going through all sorts of possibilities of what this large Thing could be Shasta could not bear it any longer.  He mustered up the courage to talk to It and ask It what it was.  The Thing replied and told Shasta that It was not a giant or something dead, and asked Shasta to tell It his sorrows.  Without noticing the Thing had not answered the question but redirected the entire conversation, Shasta began to tell the Thing his entire pitiful life story.  After detailing his unfortunate experiences the Thing turned to Shasta and said:

‘I do not call you unfortunate,’ said the Large Voice.  ‘Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?’ said Shasta.  ‘There was only one lion,’ said the Voice.  ‘What on earth do you mean?  I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and –’ ‘There was only one: but he was swift of foot.’ ‘How do you know?’  ‘I was that lion.’  And Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued.  ‘I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis.  I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead.  I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept.  I was the lion who gave the Horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time.  And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.’…‘Who are you?’ Shasta asked.  ‘Myself,’ said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again, ‘Myself,’ loud and clear and gay: and then the third time ‘Myself,’ whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.[2]

Shasta was no longer afraid of the Voice, or the Lion walking beside him.  Rather he felt a terrible gladsome trembling in Its presence.  All of the sudden Shasta realized that as the Lion had been talking a light began to grow around Him, so much so that he had to blink over and over because it was almost as bright as the sun.  Then he turned toward the light and saw it.  There stood a Lion, walking beside him that was taller than his horse, soft and strong at the same time.  He caught a glimpse of His face, and jumped out of his saddle and fell on his face before It, without saying a word.  Their eyes met, and the Lion and all His glory around Him vanished leaving Shasta and his horse alone on the mountain path.  A few days later, Shasta was walking on a hillside far away where all the landscape could be seen around them.  Shasta noticed the path he walked on the other night where the Lion met him and was astonished to behold that the path they walked on was a cliff with jagged edges dropping far beneath on the left side.  Shasta warmly thought to himself, “I was quite safe.  That is why the Lion kept on my left.  He was between me and the edge all the time.”[3]

Thus we see Lewis’ purpose in The Horse and His Boy.  His aim throughout the whole story with almost every character was one and the same: to expand and display the reality present in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Aslan, as you have seen, has this kind of encounter with Shasta and many other characters.  All of the characters, even Bree the horse, seem to be down and out when Aslan comes to them with sovereign encouragement one by one.  This story is amazingly helpful because it teaches the reader that those awful circumstances in your own life which you think were the lowest of lows, were precisely the ones that God came to your aid, whether you were aware of Him or not, working them together for your good.  And not only your good, but God worked them the best possible way to get to your best possible good.  Aslan had been shaping, crafting, and carving out Shasta’s life from the very beginning, and when Shasta realized this he was infinitely humbled because such a glorious King such as Aslan was intimately involved with someone like him.  The same is true for all Christian and non-Christian readers.  Thus, I think this story has been, is, and will be used of God to bring many people to Himself throughout the past, present, and future simply because watching Shasta deal with real, hard life, and watching Aslan reveal Himself to Shasta gives the reader a window into God’s heart that is rarely seen in this generation.  Through life, Lewis learned one stunning truth that led his own heart to trust God like no other, namely, that God is sovereign and good.  This is the helpful, not hurtful, message of The Horse and His Boy.


[1] Lewis, 280.

[2] Lewis, 281.

[3] Lewis, 290.

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