From time to time I’ll bust out a little devotional meditation based on a line of thought started by a random story. This is one such line of thought, and I’m relatively sure it’s similar to the line of thought George MacDonald would have wanted to stir up:
I’ve been reading George MacDonald’s story, The Golden Key with my daughter the past two days. I’ve read it before, but it has been a couple of years. I had forgotten how moving the description of the land of shadows is:
After a while, they reached more open spaces, where the shadows were thinner; and came even to portions over which shadows only flitted, leaving them clear for such as might follow. Now a wonderful form, half bird-like half human, would float across on outspread sailing pinions. Anon an exquisite shadow group of gambolling children would be followed by the loveliest female form, and that again by the grand stride of a Titanic shape, each disappearing in the surrounding press of shadowy foliage. Sometimes a profile of unspeakable beauty or grandeur would appear for a moment and vanish. Sometimes they seemed lovers that passed linked arm in arm, sometimes father and son, sometimes brothers in loving contest, sometimes sisters entwined in gracefullest community of complex form. Sometimes wild horses would tear across, free, or bestrode by noble shadows of ruling men. But some of the things which pleased them most they never knew how to describe.
About the middle of the plain they sat down to rest in the heart of a heap of shadows. After sitting for a while, each, looking up, saw the other in tears: they were each longing after the country whence the shadows fell.
“We MUST find the country from which the shadows come,” said Mossy.
“We must, dear Mossy,” responded Tangle. “What if your golden key should be the key to it?”
Of course Plato’s Allegory of the Cave comes to mind, but so does a famous quote by C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory:
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
Every day, especially Sunday, we see shadows. And the beauty of a shadow is that it is cast by an object with real weight:
- Colossians 2:16 ¶ Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
And until that day we say with the singer,
- Song of Solomon 4:6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. 7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
Now we get the foretastes of worship, then we will dwell in a shadowless land from which all of the glorious shadows come. We will have Christ – the substance, the body, the reality – in his fulness. He is the glory of the place, but also truly the key of entry:
- Luke 11:52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.