No. I didn’t really see an apostle. I am not of the Mormon church and do not believe that the office of apostleship continues today. What I am talking about is a glimpse into the past by looking at the present.
I tutor a 4th grade boy, unchurched (well, barely churched), ABC (American-Born Chinese), goofball of a kid, named David. One thing he has a hard time with is spelling and reading comprehension. He’s a nut-case, and can easily throw me off topic, but I’ve found that he has other needs besides just scholastic issues…David has a soul/spiritual need. It seems like God (go figure…He usually does God-things like this) has put me in a unique position to minister to this young soul. His parents are busy at a local restaurant, working nearly 7 days a week for 12 hours a day. He has a little sister (who is extremely annoying and usually throws things at him…his words, not mine) and a great-grandfather who cares for him when his parents are not there. Yes, a GREAT-grandfather. One with a lot of indigestion. But I digress.
This boy has some serious emotional issues that he covers up with a “I’m a tough kid and really very funny” attitude, but during my two hours a week with him, he confesses a lot of his heartache with me. Between the small issues that come with being a 10 year old boy and going to school and having a little sister and the very big issues of felt neglect from his parents and no one really listening to him and a confusion about why things are the way they are in the world, I have become the sometimes mute sounding board for him. This, I think has been one of the most important parts of our time together. Again, I digress.
To try to hit two birds with one stone, I have decided to go through the Chronicles of Narnia with him. It’s a great book series that touches on some very big points of life. I think it’s very adept at handling big things with seriousness and the small things with levity and yet putting it all into perspective by showing the greatness of God and the Kingdom He rules (through Aslan). C.S. Lewis was nothing if not a speaker to people where they are and this book series hits the nail on the head for children. By going through these books, I’m hoping to give David a larger view of life, a clearer view of God, and an increased vocabulary by reading something enjoyable. The books have everything: love, friendship, honor, deceit, betrayal, adventure, battles, evil, good, and Truth. There is death and life and hope and despair seen through the pages. We first read The Magician’s Nephew and now we are going through The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Kids amaze me with their perceptiveness. As I said, this kid is mostly-unchurched, but he has heard enough to have equated the way Aslan creates Narnia with a song to God creating our world. He understood immediately that Aslan was sad after talking to the Witch privately because he was going to sacrifice himself to save Edmund.
The glimpse of the apostles came when we finished the chapter where the Witch stabs Aslan through the heart and the two sisters, Susan and Lucy, are looking on. The chapter builds in darkness and despair, with the Witch and her minions mocking and spitting on Aslan. His beautiful mane is shaved off to where the girls can’t hardly recognize him. We had all of two minutes left of our hour together and so I stopped there, waiting to continue the next chapter the following week. David said to me, “You don’t have to worry about me reading ahead. I’m too much afraid.”
I’ve had his parting line in my head all weekend. I have been a Christian, it feels, all my life. I went through the salvation prayer at age 7 and was baptized when I was 10. I fully gave my life over to God when I was a freshman in high school and decided to serve Him in my life as a missionary the following year. It seems that God has continually brought to my attention what the despair of a non-believer is. I was amazed in high school to learn from my history teacher (after the class was over, of course) that people across the globe were not Christians not because they had heard the Gospel and refused it, but because they had NEVER even heard the name of Jesus. I knew right then that my purpose in life was to proclaim His name to those who had never heard it before. Even in our world of technology, I have crossed the seas and met people who have only heard the name of Jesus as an expletive, but no more. They might know about “crossing themselves” like the Catholics, but the understanding does not go any further. Here, in my hometown, I am meeting more of the same.
I know that Aslan is not a perfect rendering of Jesus. There is no such thing because only He can represent Himself, but he’s a great picture of Him. David does not fully understand the gravity of the story and how he can put himself into the story and insert God into it as well. But he has come to love and respect Aslan and understood that he represents something Greater and Nobler than he has encountered in his small life. The sadness on his face, the way he sat on the edge of his seat up to the moment when the Witch kills Aslan, I felt that God allowed me to look through a window again to the past. I could see the disciples watching in horror as their beloved Friend and Companion, the One they had put so much Hope into, gave His life and allowed Himself to be beaten, mocked, and killed. And they had to wait, just as David will continue to wait for tomorrow, to know the rest of the story. They didn’t understand that this was completely necessary.
They even waited without hope. I know what it is like to wait, but most of my waiting has been with hope…no, all of it has been. Even if I can’t hope for a good end to the immediate circumstance, there’s still the overall ending hope that comforts through the temporary sadness. The disciples, and David, did/do not have this. It’s sometimes a shock to me to encounter people living without hope, but it’s good for me. It reminds me of what’s important.
I can’t wait to continue reading through the series with this child. His mind and heart are open to God and God is teaching Him things through our time together. I’m treasuring it and I feel like David is too. There’s something exciting and relieving to know that there is something greater than yourself and your own small story. The idea that no matter how big your problems may be, there is something, Someone, greater than them, and He has a plan for good…and YOU fit into it. In fact, His plan is FOR you.