On Sunday night, I shared a special conversation with my children about the final book in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. These books are family favorites of ours, and what prompted this particular discussion was the occasion of my oldest daughter finishing her first solo read through “The Last Battle.”
It was one of those conversations I treasure with my kids. We talked about how the Pevensie children find themselves, after their death, in the truest of all Narnias, and how Lewis imagines in this fullest and truest Narnia the biblical picture of the new heaven and new earth that we read about in John’s Revelation. We talked about those incredible lines from “The Last Battle,” like “further up and further in” which the characters repeat to each other over and over, and how Queen Lucy, after marveling that the dark stable was actually the doorway to this newer, fuller Narnia, says, "In our world, too, a Stable once held something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
And we talked about Aslan’s conversation with the Calormene soldier, and how, as much as I love that conversation, I think Lewis got this one wrong. Now if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll just have to read it for yourself. But only, of course, if you’ve read the other books first.
A few hours later, long after my girls were safely tucked in their bed, I thought of another line in “The Last Battle.” It happened when I read that the lovely and grace-filled Kara Tippetts had gone home to be with Jesus. We talked of Kara and her battle with terminal cancer just recently on BreakPoint. In the midst of dying, Kara (a pastor’s wife and a mother of young children) decided to share her struggle with others. Hundreds of thousands of people began to follow her story, and her book, appropriately titled “The Hardest Peace,” became a best seller. Her life encouraged and influenced countless other people.
Though the Tippetts family lives, as I do, in Colorado Springs and though we have many, many mutual friends, I never had the privilege of meeting Kara face to face. She did, though, graciously agree to talk with me on “BreakPoint this Week” after she had reached out to another terminally ill woman, Brittany Maynard. You may recall that Brittany made national headlines when she moved from California to Oregon and announced her decision to end her own life through physician-assisted suicide.
Kara pleaded with Brittany to reconsider, clarifying how meaning can be found in suffering through Christ, whose suffering brought the promise of eternal life. In the way she chose to live her life, love her family, and foster intentional friendship with so many around her, Kara Tippetts bravely embodied these words that she wrote to Brittany.
Kara’s life and death also embody those words from Deitrich Bonhoeffer: “Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.” In Christ, Kara transformed her dying into a living message, not only for Brittany Maynard, but for all of us.
If you don’t know about Kara’s story, visit her blog “Mundane Faithfulness.” There, Kara allowed us to walk through her suffering and struggles at such an intimate, yet Christ-filled, level. And pick up her book “The Hardest Peace.” We’ll provide links to both at BreakPoint.org.
So what now? For her family, especially for her husband and four children, let us plead to the God of all grace for His comfort and that, in His love, they would find that Hard Peace Kara was able to find, even as they mourn. And let us give. A fund has been set up for her children, and we’ll link to it at BreakPoint.org.
And as I think of Kara, I’m reminded of another line, the last line from “The Last Battle”: “now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Publication date: March 24, 2015