The emotional and redemptive conclusion to The Wingfeather Saga

It is difficult to read The Wingfeather Saga and not compare it to Narnia and Middle Earth. Each was written by a man devoted to following Jesus. Yet none of the stories are so overtly Christian that they are inaccessible to non-believers. And they certainly don’t beat you over the head with their faith. Instead, spiritual themes are deftly woven into the story, and you are left with a field of jewels to be discovered over and over as you read.

This is probably going to sound crazy, but The Wingfeather Saga is higher on my list than The Chronicles of Narnia. I love both series. I have read each numerous times, and cannot wait until my boys are old enough for us to start reading them together. But there is a thickness to the world of Aerwiar that I find missing in Narnia.

51ipnoqIuXL._SS300_The Warden and the Wolf King is the conclusion of the Wingfeather children’s journey, and it is bittersweet. It is bitter because it is over, but sweet because it is a fitting end to a wonderful series. This fourth and final book continues the themes started early in the tale. More than anything I read this series as a story of identity. Who are you? Who am I? Who did the Maker create me to be? This is the defining question for each of the children. We watch as they journey to discover and accept who they are. Throughout the series we see the impact of this question of various characters. When one accepts who he was created to be, he thrives. When he does not, he becomes something hideous and dangerous.

I once heard someone say Good Will Hunting is a great film because each person walks out of the theater thinking it was about him or her. Each character has moments the audience can relate to throughout the film. The Wingfeather Saga is like this. Over and over I found my experience reflected in the lives of Peterson’s characters. I am convinced, if you read these books, you will find your experiences in these characters as well.

As we move through the books, Peterson’s writing gets better and better. The story builds and the pace quickens to an incredibly emotional and redemptive conclusion. The Warden and the Wolf King continues the emotional resonance of The Monster in the Hollows. I wept with Janner and Kal in the cave outside Clovenfast and am holding back tears even now thinking about Janner running into fray with Artham’s words echoing in his mind. These books are a gift, and I could not recommend them more highly.

Hercules, Antaeus and falling upon God

imagesWhen Hercules wrestled with Antaeus he found that every time he threw him down upon the ground the enemy arose stronger than before. But when he discovered Gaea – the Earth – was the mother of the giant, and that every time her son fell back upon her bosom he rose with renewed strength, then Hercules changed his tactics. Lifting Antaeus high in the air, away from the source of his strength, he held him there till he brought him into subjection.

We, who are not children of Earth but children of God, could learn much from the lesson of Antaeus. We too, whenever troubles cast us back upon the bosom of our Father, rise with renewed strength. Just as Antaeus let Hercules, who was smaller in stature than he, lift him away from his source of power, so circumstances, infinitely small and trivial, may drag us away from God. Troubles, misfortunes, disappointments and handicaps, if they but throw us back upon God, if they merely give us the opportunity of bringing into play our God-directed imagination and our heaven-blessed sense of humor, may become converted into marvelous good fortune. For trouble, if it merely turns us to God and hence renews our strength, ceases to be evil and becomes good; it becomes the best thing that could possible come to us, next to God himself. For our growth in power and happiness depends upon the number of seconds out of each twenty-four hours that we are resting in God.

-The Soul’s Sincere Desire by Glenn Clark

Great Rivalries: Evangelism vs. Discipleship

I use to believe evangelism and discipleship were at odds. In my experience people were focused either on winning souls or encouraging believers to follow Jesus more deeply. I thought it was rare to find someone who balanced the two. We either spent the majority of our energy getting people to accept God’s gift of salvation or helping those who have already accepted his gift to grow deeper. This paragraph is ridiculous when you think about it, and I am a little embarrassing to admit I thought this way, but you probably recognize what I am talking about. There is a friendly rivalry between evangelism and discipleship.

Why is there a rivalry? Is it because of the way we describe becoming a Christian? Is it possible the divide comes from a definition of salvation that focuses on a moment and not a lifestyle? I wonder, would we see this divide if we defined salvation as becoming a disciple and not a decision to acknowledge our sin and believe in the salvific work of Jesus on the cross? What if we changed the way we defined salvation? What if we stopped seeing salvation as a moment, and started seeing it as a relationship.

Salvation is a decision. But I don’t think it is a decision to believe. It is a decision to walk with Jesus. This decision means acknowledging we are sinful and we cannot change on our own. It means acknowledging the death resurrection and ascension of Jesus as the inauguration of God’s kingdom on earth and in our lives. But it also means we are choosing to follow Jesus, to live in constant relationship with him and to actually be his disciples.

To be fair, most evangelists I have known do talk about salvation as a decision to follow Jesus, but unfortunately much of what we do does not support this. It is very difficult to lead this kind of conversion from a stage. Choosing to follow Jesus, becoming a disciple, requires community, and it is far too easy to raise a hand in a service, pray a prayer and walk away without community. We frequently communicate that someone should know the date of his salvation, but becoming a disciple is often more like a blooming flower than a lighting bolt decision. We argue who is in and who is out. If salvation is agreeing to a set of beliefs, you can define who is in and who is out, but it is much more difficult to determine who is following Jesus and who is not.

Salvation does not come because we believe we are sinners and Jesus died for our sins. Salvation is entering a master-disciple relationship with Jesus because he demonstrated his great love for us by sacrificing himself for our sins. If we started teaching and acting as if this was true, there would be no rivalry because there would be no difference between evangelism and discipleship.

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