Monday, July 30, 2012

Of fantasy, truth, and peace...

I love stories, particularly when they illustrate a deep truth in a non-pretentious way. I think I (and many others) got this from God. After all, Jesus used stories to illustrate truths!

One of my very, very favorite stories is a fantasy trilogy. This story has magic and mages, swords and prophecies, as well as one of the most beautiful romances I've ever read. I love the story because the magic and wisdom so often symbolize truths that seem to come straight out of Scripture--without preaching at all.

One section describes the peace that God gives in such a poignant way.

You see, the world loves to talk about peace. Jesus talked about peace. But the two are not the same.

When the world talks about peace, they mean no fighting. No one saying what you want to do is wrong. No trials and tribulations. No death and destruction. Even the Jews thought that this was what the Messiah was coming to bring.

Jesus said differently. He said, "In this world you will have trouble. But fear not, for I have overcome the world."

But so often the concept of peace in the midst of trouble is just too abstract for people to imagine. That's why I'm kidnapping a paragraph for use as a parable.

In this story:
  • The kingdom is being threatened by a terrible kind of evil and destructive magic. The main characters have been working to discover what it is, who is behind it, and how to stop it.  
  • Morgan, the heroine, is learning to deal with things that frequently overwhelm her with their darkness. 
  • The elves stand for the perfection of beauty, harmony, music, etc. You might say that they almost represent what the world would have been if sin had not messed things up so terribly.
  • Lothar is the archenemy. He is the evil mage whose lifeblood feeds off of the destruction of everything that is good.
  • Miach is the hero mage. Once upon a time when he was young and foolish, he spent a year in Lothar's very, very dark and evil dungeon. His parents both died rescuing him, so he's got a past that he's had to learn to deal with, too.  Much like all of us.
  • Furthermore, Miach knows that facing Lothar and stopping all of the evil and darkness is his job. What he has to do gets more and more unpleasant as the books progress, much like the paths our lives take sometimes.

This is in the final book of the trilogy, and they are in a room with Morgan's brother. Outside of that room, however, they are surrounded by the enemy. They are on their way to a place that is simply saturated with evil. They have to stop what no one else has been able to, and they still have not figured out how to do it. On the table are spells of evil that they suspect are what is working against them.

In other words, nothing's looking particularly good at the moment.

But it is here, in this place of darkness, that Morgan begins to realize something very special.
Morgan sat back and listened to them. ... She realized at some point during that discussion that the peace she'd felt before was still surrounding her, as if it had been a quiet spell of elven glamour cast by someone who loved her. The contrast between that and the spells of evil that sat on the table was startling, but she found that she could tolerate it more easily now. She looked at Miach as he laughed at something her brother said and wondered if he had that same sort of tranquility somewhere deep inside him, a peace that not even the horrors of Lothar's dungeon could touch.

She suspected so.

That is what the peace that Jesus gives is like. It is something deep within us that is not dependent upon outward circumstances. It is not upset by guilt over things in our past, and it is not affected by the path that lies ahead of us.  It is more powerful than all those things, for it can "reign in our heart" if we let it. It is a fortress inside of us... a place of refuge that we can remain in, even as we face the darkness around us.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."   - Jesus

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