Crowns

I dreamed a lot this morning on the way to waking up. Most of it is gone now, but at the end, the very last thing, was a crown: I remember holding a crown in my hands, a jeweled filigree circlet. I looked carefully at how the light shone through it and reflected from it, glinting on faceted jewels. And then I woke up.

A couple of days ago I revisited the movie adaptation of the first book in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” (If you don’t know the story, go read that instead of this. It’s very good.) The main characters followed by the story, the Pevensie kids, are promised crowns too. They are told their kingdom is already present, and in fact is waiting for them to save it, with many people already gathering to fight under their command. The kids (who have been in this strange land for less than a full day) receive this news incredulously. Their first impulse is to leave, but events conspire to make them stay and keep moving toward this impossible, prophesied destiny.

I think about my dream of a crown, and this story about kids who are promised crowns, and am reminded of another story promising crowns. The book of Revelation is full of the imagery of crowns. 1 Peter calls the children of God a “royal priesthood.” Jesus himself speaks about the Kingdom of God. I am sure he means a kingdom ruled by God, but I’m also thinking about the Narnia story again, in which there is a High King who crowns the four kids as kings and queens to rule under his authority. This is not unlike what the Bible says — starting at the very beginning of the story, when God made a man and woman and gave them dominion over the world they lived in. That dominion has never been revoked. Whether or not we consider ourselves royal, humankind has been given authority to create and shape our world.

Today, thinking about crowns and all of these ideas regarding royalty and authority, I find myself identifying a lot with the Pevensie kids, specifically at the point in the story where they discover they’ve tumbled into something much bigger than they expected, with other characters already treating them like avenging royalty when they can barely comprehend the idea. All along their story, they find more is expected of them than they knew, and the people around them take it as a given that these kids will rise to the situation — and in the end, they do. Not without fear, uncertainty, and pain, but they also discover bravery and faith within themselves that they never expected either.

I feel rather like that, thinking about the Bible’s promises. I don’t know to what degree these promises about royalty are literal and to what degree they are metaphorical, but I know for certain that I don’t feel worthy of them. I feel neither like a princess nor an acolyte. I don’t have the grace of a good queen or the devotion of a good priestess. I don’t live up to those roles. But the Bible already treats me as though I do.

God doesn’t wait for any of us to live up to these standards. He adopts us into his own royal family immediately, and then gives us situations in life that train us up to this identity or show us where we fall short of it. But when we fall short, we are royal children who fall short. We are never working to earn our crowns, we are trying to learn how to grace the crowns that are already being forged for us in heaven.

I don’t know what I think about this truth. I am grateful I’m not expected to earn this impossible thing; that’s very good, because I don’t think I could. I wonder why God would give me this gift, but he’s wiser than me and I have to credit him for knowing what he’s doing. It makes me want to live better, to live in a way that’s more worthy of what I have been given. The best kings and queens know their position is actually one of service, to take the best care of that which is in their trust. That’s the high standard we are called to grow into, following the lead of our own High King.

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