While in the fifth grade, I discovered in my school library a series of books that would have a significant influence on my life. They were the stories of children taken out of this world, and dropped into another world. There, they had exciting adventures and had a very real encounter with Good and Evil, before their return to their normal lives. The books were the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, which started with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and ended with The Last Battle. They captivated my imagination with Lewis’ depiction of the lion, Aslan, and his repeated redemption of Narnia from attacks by evil.
Especially influential to me were the events in the final chapters of The Last Battle, in which the Pevensie children and their friends, now grown older, find themselves back in a Narnia that is all made new, and is actually part of Aslan’s Country. There, they were told that they were now there to stay, that this Narnia would never see evil again, and that all of their lives to this point were just an introduction to the story that was yet ahead. This idea of what heaven might be like fascinated me, and made the whole concept a bit more real.
A few years later, I came across the Space Trilogy that C.S. Lewis also wrote. In this series, Elwin Ransom from earth has adventures on Mars (Malacandra) and Venus (Perelandra), and learns the true nature of our solar system, and the fallen status of our own Earth (Thulcandra, the “silent planet”). The future restoration of Earth was discussed in the last chapters of Perelandra. Similar to what was mentioned at the end of the Narnia series, Lewis again stated that the whole of our history was just a mis-step at the start of a long journey that would be more wonderful than could be even imagined.
Despite my young age, these glimpses of heaven motivated me to learn more about the real story of God in our world, and drove me to learn what the Bible said about it. And as my enjoyment of music expanded to include Jesus Music, I was always attentive for songs that talked about heaven.
Chris Rice has written serveral songs about heaven; he has a vision of what it might be like, and communicates it beautifully in his music. One that I had listened to before, but did not really hear all the lyrics until just recently, hearkens back to the Narnia stories I read in my childhood. The oddly named song, Nonny Nonny from his 2003 album Run The Earth, Watch The Sky, contains these words:
… My adolescent 70’s
Reads just like the Pevensies adventures
‘Cause every perfect now and then
I cought a glimpse of Aslan’s mane
And I longed for His treasure
Something in His mystery was drawing me
To love the Author of my own biography
Nonny Nonny Odle’ee
River washes over me
Up for air and carry me away
Nonny Nonny Odle’igh
Run the earth and watch the sky
Playing hard and waiting for the day
Nonny Nonny Odle’ay
All grown up and living fine
Biographies all intertwined with billions
And soon He turns the final page
We’ll look the Author in the face
Then the book really begins
‘Cause something tells me all these years of memories
Are only the first sentence of eternity …