I love good stories. Which is why I love C. S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia.
I’m reading through the series again for the first time since middle school and, wow, I enjoy them so much more this time (weird how that works).
Okay, question. As you read novels, do you find it easier to identify with the heroes or the villains? It depends on the story, I suppose, but I find it easier to project myself into the hero’s life. Do you find that true as well? Maybe it’s because we all long to be gallant and valiant and noble so, if we can’t be that in real life, at least we can vicariously live through the heroes of whatever story we’re reading (or watching) at the time. But also, let’s face it, most of the time we consider ourself the protagonist of our own story so it’s a natural default to transpose ourselves into the role of the good guy (or girl).
However, on this journey into Narnia, as much as I want to be identified with the courageous, heroic and brave characters like Peter, Susan and Lucy, I’m finding I identify more with Edmund than anyone else. Edmund. The traitor. #humbling.
Most of us know the story (and if you don’t, spoiler alert).
Edmund basically sells his siblings to the devilish White Witch for candy. He chooses to fill his stomach rather than fight for his family. Greed wins and the White Witch, revealing her true colors, exacts payment.
As all of Narnia assembles to fight the Witch and her cohorts, Aslan comes on the scene. Aslan—the Great Lion who causes winter to flee and spring to rise. Aslan—the true King of Narnia. Aslan—the one who is really in charge of this whole shindig. And as the Witch enters Aslan’s camp with the repentant Edmund, Aslan meets her and all eyes are fixed on them in trepidation.
“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.
“Well,” said Aslan. “His offence was not against you.”
Later we see the Story of all stories unfold on the Stone Table as Aslan sacrifices himself—a willing victim who has committed no treachery in a traitor’s stead—thereby reversing the deep magic and turning death itself backward.
Edmund, who had a debt he could not pay, was undeservedly freed. His debt paid by a sinless sacrifice.
Yeah, I can identify with that.
However, what I’ve never seen before was in book three, The Horse and His Boy, when it is now King Edmund that’s sinned against.
“Your Majesty would have a perfect right to strike off his head,” said Peridan. “Such an assault as he made puts him on a level with assassins.”
“It is very true,” said Edmund. “But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.” And he looked very thoughtful.
Cue the tears. I’m crying again even as I type this. To whom much is given, much is required and Edmund, who was the recipient of spectacular grace and love, had remarkable sympathy for other traitors, even those whose treachery was aimed at him.
Do we identify with Edmund in this regard? Do we find ourselves dishing out the compassion constantly given to us? Do we love as we have been loved? Do we, former rebels who committed cosmic treason, spend our lives seeking the redemption of other traitors? Or do we allow redemption and the knowledge thereof to puff up and lead to a high and haughty disposition more akin to the White Witch than Aslan the Great?
Praise for lavish grace that pays our debts, crowns us as royals in service to the High King, and allows even traitors to mend.