“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
Have you read the last book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle? If not, you must! In my opinion, it is one of the most underrated books. I will not tell you much about it here because it’s too good to spoil. The only thing I am going to discuss from it today is the concept of “further up and further in.” The quote above is said by the unicorn when he first sees the new Narnia, Alsan’s Country.
Most of us do not enjoy the thought of dying. We probably don’t really even enjoy the thought of going to Heaven if It means leaving the things we enjoy about our life here on earth. This is because we have yet to go further up and further in. How does one do that? The answer is to abide.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
John 15 is such an important chapter because it tells us how to grow in our faith, works, and love of the Lord. And it isn’t difficult at all. Just like a branch clings to the vine, all we need to do is cling to Christ!
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Cling to Christ and He will bear fruit in and through you! And not just any fruit, the Fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
This fruit bearing happens here and now on earth. You don’t have to wait until Heaven. As long as sin is in the world, there is going to be tribulation here, but Christ in you will not only help you bear it all but will actually make the world a better place. This is because being a more loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, patient, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled person will not only be good for the person but for those around them too. Think how the world would be if we had millions and millions of people clinging to Christ and bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. It would almost be Heaven!
So how to cling?
In case isn’t clear, the clinging is the abiding of John 15. And the way to abide is to read your Bible and pray continually. In other words, seek the Lord with all you’ve got.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Why do I have to read the Bible? Can’t I just pray all the time? No. Read the Bible. It is God’s words to us. We speak to God with words, He speaks to us through the Bible. It’s a conversation! It isn’t too hard for you. War is hard. Childbirth is hard. Reading the Bible is not hard. And when you do open it and read it, maybe start with the book of Ezra to see an example of how important Gof thinks it is for His people to read His Word. But make sure to keep reading from there. It doesn’t matter where you start, just read it! I listened to sermons and did devotionals for years but never read the Bible. I knew a lot of things to say to hold up a conversation with another believer but the depth of what Christ did for me on the cross had not penetrated my heart and I was not regenerated. There is something about actual Scripture that opens our eyes and changes us. That something is that Scripture is alive and active.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The words of Hebrews 4:12 are true. But you have to experience it for yourself. It’s like a having a baby. Before you are a parent, everyone tells you how the love you have for your baby is different than anything you’ve ever felt before. You can try to imagine it, and you can even like the idea, but until you actuall have the baby you don’t really know. Open your Bible right now and you’ll be on your way to understanding the Narnian Unicorn, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”
And don’t forget to pray.
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray to God your worries, pray to God your thanks, and pray to God His words too. Praying Scripture brings you so close to God. Here’s how to do it. Let’s say you are in John 15 that we were discussing before,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Pray John 15:1-5 to God by saying somethng like, “Thank for being our True Vine and our Vinedresser. Thank you for pruning me to bear more fruit, and thank you for making me clean. I know I can’t bear the Fruit of the Spirit by myself, I need you to bear it through me. Please let me to continue to abide in you always. Let me seek you with my whole heart. Amen”
Read your Bible and pray as much as you possibly can. And don’t forget to go to a sound church to gather together with other believers. You won’t believe the difference this will make. Little by little you will know Christ more and more. And eventually you will actually want to see Him in Heaven! How many of us like the thought of Heaven after death but couldn’t care less if Jesus was there or not? But Jesus is the point, and He’s a good point. He’s not safe, but He’s good.
Sure, the thought of death will probably always be a little scary because we don’t know when it’s coming or what it will feel like, but the fear of death can absolutely go away when you seek the Lord with your whole heart.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:55
Further up and further in!