Fortunate Son (Exodus 15:22–27)

God saves. His people sing. Then, they grumble! The children who praise and thank you at the beach, whine and moan on the way home.

God saves. His people sing. Then, they grumble. Yet, God is gracious! The children who praise and thank you at the beach, whine and moan on the way home, but you don’t drop them off at the nearest convenience store, you drive them all the way home.

God saves, we sing—this is the essences of salvation. We sing, then we grumble, yet God gives grace—this is the story of sanctification. In this wilderness of life east of Eden and south of the new heaven and new earth, sin remains in us, but it never exhausts the grace found in God. Grace that will drive us all the way home. Grace that will drive sin out of us.

I don’t understand my friends who think otherwise, but in my opinion, The Horse and His Boy is one of the best in Lewis’ Narnian tales. From one perspective, Shasta’s life has been a series of unfortunate events: abandoned as a child on foreign pagan soil to become a slave, finally gaining opportunity to seek his freedom, only to be exhausted by one obstacle after another. Journeying alone in the night he begins to complain that he must be the most unfortunate boy in the world. His grumbling is stunted by the terror of realizing he is not alone. After the unknown Thing travels alongside him for some distance in the darkness Shasta finally breaks the silence.

“Who are you?” he said, barely above a whisper.

“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.

“Are you – are you a giant?” asked Shasta.

“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”

“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world.”

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. and then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

“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 lions the first night, and—”

“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”

“How do you know?”

“I was the lion.”

And as 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 as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the 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.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

“Who are you?” asked Shasta.

“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.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.

Shasta, was brought by the Lion to a regal home, for unbeknownst, he was heir to the throne. Unbeknownst, he had saved the kingdom—though really it was all Aslan’s doing. Unbeknownst to Shasta, Aslan, by all these trials, was changing Shasta, fitting him for this kingdom. Likewise, God’s strange, wise providence guides His people home, for His glory, and for their joy. No more grumbling will be heard, all will be song.

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