Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feeling Like Peter - Movie Review of Prince Caspian

Originally Written 7/2009

I’m beginning to feel a lot like Peter. And I’m not talking about Peter, the Apostle.

I’m talking about Peter in the movie Prince Caspian.

I never did a review of the movie so much of that will be covered here. Overall, I liked the movie, though the moral was not as clear as in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I know that many people did not like the movie, particularly for its focus on fighting and its portrayal of Peter.

I really like the portrayal of Peter for several reasons. In the book, the Pevensie children transition back and forth from Narnia without much emotional exploration. Given that Lewis was writing children’s stories, it’s not surprising nor is it a failure that he does not go into this emotional depth. As an adult reading the story, however, it always felt lacking. What reason could there be for the older children not seeing Aslan when Lucy did? How do you go from a 30+ year old High King to a nobody teenager again, man that’s gotta be tough.

In the movie, this is explored, especially in Peter’s character. Starting out, he is angry, even bitter towards Aslan because he does not understand what Aslan is doing. “It’s been nearly a year…” complains Peter as he wonders why they haven’t been taken back into Narnia. He preferred Narnia to this world, preferred being King. He resented being thrust back into a boy’s role with no power or influence.

In many ways, he believed it was a mistake that they ever stumbled out of Narnia. But for reasons he didn’t understand, Aslan had not fixed the problem. A year later, Peter is confused and angry, hence his willingness to fight anyone. Susan had seen it all before and Edmond was instantly in support of his brother.

Back in Narnia, Peter is back in his element. Immediately he resorts to his command authority and it often conflicts with Caspian’s leadership. But something is different—he’s not all that interested in Aslan—he is fighting to restore what he sees as his kingdom—early on, Peter fights only “for Narnia”. You hear his battle cries during the castle onslaught. He’s trying to “do it on his own”, something which the White Witch tempts him with later on after his failure—“you know you can’t do this on your own.”

I believe Peter doesn’t see Aslan when Lucy does because—one, he is angry and resentful towards him, and two, he no longer trusts Aslan nor relies on him—Peter’s reassertion of command authority brings with it an “I can only depend on myself”. Because Peter didn’t understand Aslan, he stopped looking for him—stopped waiting for him. Despite his experience with Aslan, Peter lives and acts much more like Trumpkin, who doesn’t believe in Alsan at all—Peter has become a functional atheist.

Peter’s situation influenced those around him who followed his lead. Edmond didn’t see Aslan in part b/c he was taking his cues from Peter and falling back into that role. Susan didn’t see Aslan in part b/c she really didn’t want to be there at all. At the end of the Narnia stories, she is the only one who doesn’t come back b/c she is no longer a ‘friend of Narnia”.

Peter even influences Lucy, who did see Aslan—she follows Peter anyway—in this way, the blind was leading the seeing. Lucy still had a childlike faith and a love for Aslan—but she let the pressures of others stop her from going to him. This is something that Aslan mildly rebukes her for when he says, “and why did that stop you from coming to me”, after Lucy had said the others didn’t believe her.

Peter is like many Christians. Time elapses in our walk with Jesus and we forget. We build up certain expectations of what we think God is doing or should do—we assume we know His will—and then it doesn’t happen like we think it should. Prayers seem unanswered—we step out on faith and it feels like God isn’t holding up His side of the venture. And so we get frustrated, confused, resentful and sometimes angry. We’re tempted to lose hope, we’re tempted to become functional atheists who try to do it all on their own strength. We pray less often, we read the Word less and don’t get as much out of times of fellowship and worship. It saps the strength out of us. Our spiritual vitality drains away.

This is why, in many ways, I feel like Peter. Last year, about this time, my family and I stepped out on faith, jumped off the high dive, in stepping down from my pastoral position in Macomb, IL. We didn’t have a position already lined up, we didn’t know where we were going. We believed God would provide. Provide a short-term job; provide a buyer for our house, provide a new pastoral position.

Early on, it looked like God would do it all. I got a temp. job for $10/hour that very week. We had some early showings of the house. Our search was up and rolling. We thought we knew the will of God and were seeing it played out. Then, things began to change—He wasn’t working on our timetable anymore. I was laid off from that job on Dec. 23rd and couldn’t find another one until March. The house has yet to sell and has become like a rope holding us back. We feel led into church planting and He gave us a location and a vision but there have been delays and frustrations.

I still believe we correctly discerned God’s will in stepping down from my pastoral position. But now we are asking the questions… “how long Lord?” When will these steps of faith we’ve taken come to pass? For me, like Peter, “It’s been a year” how long are we going to have to wait? Have we missed something in His will? Are we not listening?

I honestly don’t have an easy answer for this type of question.

Unfortunately we are strained, emotionally, spiritually, physically. My current job is overnights at Wal-Mart. While I am thankful to have it, it doesn’t come near to supporting our family, especially with the house payment. If not for the love and generosity of family and a good couple of friends, we would not be making it.

God may very well use the Wal-Mart position as a blessing as I should be able to transfer up to a local store in Shorewood. However, the longer it takes, the less likely as they are in a hiring crunch. We are now trying to sell our house “By Owner” and we’ve dropped our price. Hopefully it will move soon.

It’s hard not to get frustrated. It’s hard to keep the lines of communication open when you begin to sound more like a complaining record that keeps skipping back over the same material over and over again.

But here is where I believe faith is proved genuine. When you don’t know. When you don’t have all the answers. When things are not easy. The light shines in and through the darkness. His word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. In times like this, He is more like a flashlight than the sun. He is lighting the next step or two ahead, not a mile ahead. We may see the destination or the horizon, but not all the twists, turns and valleys in between. We must walk with Him and trust Him. We must yearn and seek after Him in spite of the uncertainties. And be honest with Him about what you’re thinking and feeling (He knows it anyway). But trust Him anyway—trust what He has shown you and who He is and keep walking.

To quote Caedmon’s Call—we have to realize that when we are down in the valley and the flood of God’s grace and presence comes, it’s the valleys that fill first.

Update: 3/18/11

Wow, I never finished this or posted it that I can find. It’s been almost two years and things have not resolved. The house never sold in our possession. We moved onsite to Shorewood, IL to plant The Pursuit. A month later our funding was pulled. A month after that, we had to move to Murray, KY with family where we’ve been for over a year.

Jobs have been hard to find. The first job I found was serving at a brand new restaurant—wasn’t making much money… and then it burned to the ground not even 6 months into its opening. I have been recently hired on permanently at Collegebookrenter.com doing customer service. This has proven a great blessing.

My search for a new Ministry position has also proven challenging. I’ve made it to several churches’ last cut, but never been the one called. Many times the enemy likes to use that against me and my confidence.

Not even supply preaching is happening like I thought it would. Last fall, my wife and I took on the college ministry at our church, using our church plant material to provide some identity.

In any event, it’s been almost 3 years since my family and I stepped out on faith and very little has gone “according to plan”. There are days I feel more like Peter than ever. But there are many others in which I am compelled to trust and wait that His plans have always been better than mine and that there are things I must be faithful at doing in the meantime.

I have certainly had opportunities for the Kingdom of God that I never would have had if things worked out my way. I’ve met and hopefully influenced people in a way that honors my Savior.

I have had the opportunity to do some writing that I have been led to do but never had the time to do. I’ve made good progress into a book on the life of Jacob.

I’m reminded reading this again—Who’s Kingdom am I fighting for? Mine or His?

Have I been acting like a Functional Atheist trying to do everything by my own strength, power and wits?

Is my confusion and struggle in this walk steadfast through the struggle? Am I leading my family accordingly, my wife and kids, to see God as Lucy did even in the midst of the uncertainty?

Lord, I want to confess my confusion. My expectations have not been met because my understanding of You is too small and limited.

I know You are here with me wherever I go for You have promised never to leave or forsake me.

I call out to You for resolution, a light for my path. Help me be faithful wherever the path goes. Help me discern Your voice and leading. Help me depend on You and not my own strength or wisdom.

Help me to be a light especially to my family. I pray that my wife is not discouraged. I pray my children do not lose heart because of our uncertainty. I pray this experience strengthens their ability to trust You even when nothing makes sense. Even when things don’t “work out” when we’re trying to be faithful.

Help me not to relate to You with the attitude, “I’ll do this for You so You will do this for me.”

You are my portion and great reward—if I have nothing else but You, I have all I will ever need.

Help me to live this way every day—drive away despair from me. Give me a renewed hope and strength.

Thank you for sustaining me in all this experience.

Help me be more like Peter from the Bible. Help me be like Peter from the movie in that I have courage to fight and trust in Your deliverance.

May You be exalted.

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