Holly Wagner co-pastors Oasis Church in Los Angeles, California , alongside her husband, Philip, and she oversees the women’s ministry of Oasis—GodChicks—which has grown beyond the church walls to reach thousands of women each year. Holly is a popular conference speaker and has written seven books including, GodChicks, Daily Steps for GodChicks, WarriorChicks and GodChicks and the Men They Love. Holly and Philip have been married for 26 years and have two adult children.
Lessons from Narnia on Beauty and Bravery – A Study Guide for Women
The life that you and I have been entrusted with will include moments that demand bravery, and will include moments that demand that we take a risk.
In the gospel of Matthew Jesus told us, “Don’t think I have come to make life cozy.” Often we spend years looking for a ‘cozy’ life, a safe and comfortable life, and yet the very reason we are alive on the planet at this time in history is to see the work of our Father done. And there is nothing safe or ‘cozy’ about that! Retreating behind our ‘white picket fence’ life is not why we are here.
Micah 5:1 says “Now gather yourself in troops o daughter of troops, a state of siege has been placed against us…”
There is a war going on. A war for the sons and daughters of the King. And you and I have been commissioned as His soldiers. We have been given the mission of bringing justice where injustice has reigned.
The Chronicles of Narnia has painted and continues to paint this very story. In the newest installment in the Narnia series, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we are once again reminded, in such a creative and compelling way, that we each have a mission fulfill, temptations to overcome and it will take all of us working together to achieve it.
As Edmund complains about his cousin Eustace, Lucy’s attention drifts to a pretty young nurse flirting with her handsome soldier. Without thinking, Lucy begins to mimic the nurse. There are three things we see… 1) Lucy sees love and beauty. 2) Lucy desires love and beauty. 3) Lucy mimics the image of love and beauty.
- In our image crazed society, how much of what we do concerning love and beauty is subconsciously inherited?
- How do movies, magazines, television, and music affect the way you think about love and beauty?
- How does what you see in the media compare with what God’s word says about women, love and beauty?
I’m not exactly sure why we women feel the need to waste time trying to be someone else…but we have done so and perhaps still do. About seventeen years ago, I remember trying to figure out exactly what my role on the planet should be, and how I should live it out (just a little light thinking!). Therefore, to help me on this journey I thought I should look at other women who were further along life’s journey then me. This is a great thing to do…only I tried to be them. I wore the same kind of clothes they did, fixed my hair in the same styles and basically tried to be them.
You and I are supposed to learn from others, but we are not to try to become them!! We each have our own unique role to play at this time in history and we will only play it by being comfortable in our own skin. Other people should inspire me…that’s good. When I cross over into comparison…that’s bad because it becomes destructive. I can never be anyone else, I can only ever be a better me!
Lucy and Edmund receive a disappointing letter from Susan. Edmund makes the statement, “We don’t matter as much.” Lucy gazes in the mirror and asks, “Do you think I look anything like Susan?” We’ve all been there, asking questions about ourselves in comparison to others. The underlying question is usually, “Am I beautiful?”
- The movie so far sets us up to see that Edmund and Lucy are both in an environment where they are not valued. How do you think our environment affects the way we see ourselves?
- As we are growing in our own skin, encouragement to be ourselves (and to be our best self!) is crucial to a healthy self-image. When our parents, closest family members, and friends are absent, silent, critical, or damaging with words, what happens to our internal selftalk? What happens in our relationships when we have a negative internal dialogue?
- Eustace makes fun of Edmund and Lucy, calling them orphans. Some of us may not have grown up as orphans, but we can still have an orphan’s heart. Can you see how feeling abandoned would make someone feel un-loveable, and even wondering if they are beautiful? Have you ever felt this way?
- If you are struggling with your own internal conversations, try standing in front of the mirror and reciting Psalm 139. Here are some other scriptures for you to memorize when negative thoughts come into your mind: Psalm 68:5-6; Psalm 27:10; Jeremiah 29:11; Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 45; Song of Solomon 4:7
When the Dawn Treader finds land, there are no Narnia flags in sight. Stepping onto shore, they discover a castle. Inside the castle, there is an open ledger, which leads them to know that slave traders are doing business in this castle. Immediately they are attacked – Caspian and Edmund taken captive; Lucy and Eustace taken to be traded.
- In our society today, millions of people have been taken captive. And it will take all of us, working together, to bring freedom. Human trafficking is a global problem, affecting millions of people every year. The problem is so large that it generates more money than Nike, Google and Starbucks combined. ()
- Were you aware this happens all over the world… including right here in the US?
- Can you imagine the terror of a victim kidnapped and sold into slavery? What other times in history have we seen the emancipation of people groups?
We can be a solution to this global problem, even within the context of our day-to-day lives, particularly by raising awareness. There are several organizations battling this atrocity. There are two close to the heart of our local church.
- The A-21 Campaign, founded by Christine Caine fights global trafficking, particularly in Greece and Eastern Europe. Christine raises awareness all over the globe, as she travels with her family all year long. Visit www.A21.com to raise awareness and support this organization.
- The other organization is called Treasures, and was founded by Harmony Dust. Harmony and her team are based in Los Angeles, battling domestic trafficking and trains other outreach teams across the USA to fight this issue in their local communities. Visit www.iamatreasure.com to see how you can make a difference.
Just like Edmund and Lucy were sent to Narnia at a specific time to bring justice, you and I have been sent to the planet at this time in history to bring justice where so much injustice is evident. This is our moment. This moment…full of poverty, human suffering, pain, abuse and sorrow. God has trusted you and me with this moment! It is not an accident that we are alive at this time in history. Our amazing God is counting on you and I to do our part in bringing his love to so many hurting people. So don’t get freaked out at all the darkness that surrounds us…but realize that we are here to be the light.
How very brave it was for Rhince’s little girl, Gael, to have followed her father onto the ship. Her mother was trafficked by the slave traders, and Rhince has joined the crew in order to find her. Lucy welcomes Gael aboard the ship. Gael bows to her queen, in reverence. I imagine that Gael had witnessed Lucy’s bravery as she was kidnapped, and I can’t help but wonder if Gael was inspired by watching the example of Lucy? I like this thought… it’s biblical. Titus 2:3-4 encourages us older women (and we are all older women, because there is always someone younger than we are!) to train the younger woman. We are to lead by example.
- There are some circumstances in our lives we don’t choose. I didn’t choose to battle breast cancer, but I had to. I had to rise up and trust God, leading the women around me in courage and strength (and yes, there were plenty of mornings when I would have preferred the fetal position!). Can you think of a time in your life when you had to be brave? How did this impact the people in your world?
- I have had to navigate some challenging moments in my marriage, always aware that there are younger women looking to me to see who to do it. Who is counting on you to lead well? Is it your daughters? People at school? A neighbor’s kids?
In Narnia, Lucy was a queen – she had to lead a life of influence as royalty. And yet, in Cambridge, far from Narnia, perhaps it wasn’t easy for Lucy to remember who she is. However, even living in Cambridge, she was still a Queen of Narnia. You are the child of a King. In the eyes of heaven you are royalty, and must bravely lead on this earth as such.
- What does it meant to you that you are a daughter of the King?
- Are there times when you have forgotten that you are royalty?
- Are you able to connect your ordinary life to heaven’s perspective on who you are?
- Who encourages you to be your best self? How can you invest more time in relationships with those people?
While sleeping on the beach, invisible spirits kidnap Lucy. There were two reasons that Lucy was kidnapped by these spirits: 1) She is female. 2) She can read. And while this scene did offer a bit of comedy, it made me think.
- There is a very real agenda against women in many parts of the world today. We have an enemy and he hates us – we are both wanted and hated for our gifts. Have you experienced any injustice simply for being a female?
- Studies show in countries where women are oppressed, there are higher levels of poverty, injustice, famine and lack. Oppressing half the world is extremely limiting!! What places on the globe have you heard about where women are treated as second-class citizens? Are you willing to discover their needs, gather your girlfriends and do something… write letters, pray, knit blankets, mail clothes and toys, contribute financially to make a difference?
Coriakin shows the crew a holograph map of Narnia, pointing to Dark Island, where the previous six Lords were sent before them. He gravely warns them that they will be tested. His final encouragement: “Be strong. Don’t fall for temptation. To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness inside yourselves.” We can gather that Lucy will face her desire to be someone else… her perception of beauty.
- Each of us has struggles and issues on the inside of our hearts. Joyce Meyer, another leader in the faith often says, “The battle is in the mind.” What is one of your biggest internal battles?
- Who are some of your trusted and safe friends? (Remember a friend will encourage you to be your best self, without making you feel less than. They will use discretion with your stories, and love you with the truth.) Have you shared this internal struggle with them?
- Has fear or jealousy played a significant role in your journey so far?
- Where do you think you learned these emotions? How can you take steps to overcome fear and jealousy?
Lucy has discovered the Book of Incantations, a green mist forms behind her as she begins to read, “An infallible spell to make you she – the beauty you’ve always wanted to be.” The book becomes a mirror and she sees her sister Susan. Realizing the spell has turned her into Susan, she says, “I’m beautiful.” As she is about to tear the spell from the book, it roars like a great lion.
We are all supposed to do great things on the earth. And we are each given different gifts, different tools with which to do those great things. None of us has time to waste being jealous of another. What is with that anyway?? I have been given unique gifts and talents to help me fulfill the purpose I have on the planet. So have you. Your gifts and talents won’t help me fulfill my purpose…so me wanting them is ridiculous. Sometimes us girls can be so nasty to each other! (Don’t shake your head like you don’t know what I am talking about!!) We look at someone with a talent and get jealous and mean, rather than encouraging her as she runs her race, fulfilling her purpose.
- Here’s a little something I’ve noticed… There will always be someone smarter, prettier, skinnier, curvier, “better” than you. That’s why comparing ourselves to others is a painful waste of time. How much of your time is spent comparing yourselves to others? How has this hindered your relationships with other women?
- Have you ever wished you were someone else?
- What measures did you take to be like them?
Do you remember hearing, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” in the movie Snow White? I just don’t love this idea. First of all, it communicates that there is actually a “fairest one of all”. Second, it activates the temptation in us all to compare ourselves to others. Finally, it initiates destroying someone else in order to be the “fairest one of all”.
No doubt its difficult to be a woman these days… just walking in the grocery store and seeing People’s 50 Most Beautiful People can make us feel ashamed about our thighs, the bump on our nose, and the pounds we want to lose since our baby was born. We can even begin to feel ashamed of who we are – that we don’t measure up to the standard set by the world around us.
But who says what is beautiful? And when did we decide to agree with them (whoever they are!)? Over the years, leading women in Los Angeles for the last 25 years, and visiting other countries around the globe to encourage value in God’s daughters, I have seen some of the extreme measures people will take to hide their own beauty as they pursue someone else’s. Everything from plastic surgery in some Asian countries putting steel rods in legs to make the women taller to skin die in other nations to make darker skin lighter.
I’d like to suggest another standard… Heaven’s. God created each of us GodChicks uniquely – all shapes and sizes, colors and textures and we are beautiful just the way He made us. Psalm 139 tells us how we are to think about ourselves:
For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s
womb. I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and
for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my
inner self knows right well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was
being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if
embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of
darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your
book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when
as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16 Amplified
To toe the line of temptation is to risk loss of value, purpose and potential. Sometimes we are able to overcome a temptation in the moment, yet we will hold on to things that keep positioning us to make less than the best choices. For example, maybe you are working on your health (you know, eating more leafy green things); however, there are a few packs of M&M’s in the top of the cupboard (just in case!). Perhaps the better decision is, to the best of our ability, eliminate temptation. Lucy kept the incantation she tore from the book about beauty. Lying in bed, we see her wrestle with the temptation. She glances at Gael and then covers her head to speak the spell over her life.
- Why did Lucy keep the spell she tore from the book? Why do we feel the need to keep a Plan B in the cupboards of our heart, just in case doing the right thing gets too hard… or boring?
- Lucy looked around to see who was watching… and then she hid herself. When we give in to temptation, why do you think we feel the need to make sure no one’s watching?
- Why do you think we hide? Is there a behavior, an attitude, a habit, a hurt you are hiding? Share that with a trusted and safe friend this week, so that you can experience new levels of freedom in your life. Study 1 Corinthians 10:13 this week.
After Lucy speaks the spell and she has become Susan, she finds herself in a world without Lucy and where she herself is Susan. There is no Narnia, and she realizes she doesn’t like it. Aslan makes an appearance and asks, ”What have you done, child? You wished yourself away and with it much more.”
- In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve made the decision to believe the lies of the enemy and sin against God, God asks them, “Where are you?” Like Aslan asking Lucy, if God already knows the answer to this question, why does He ask it?
- How does Aslan’s strong encouragement, “You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.” make you feel?
Lucy apologizes as she realizes how awful it was for her to speak the spell. Each of us is irreplaceable…one of a kind…priceless! And sometimes I wonder if it isn’t like a slap in God’s face when we refuse who He made us to be and want something else. No one else can take your place.
- Who in your world is looking to you to lead the way? If you decided to be someone else, name a few people who would miss out on what you bring?
- Lucy’s temptation that she would need to overcome was her desire to be like her sister. Eustace was tempted by riches; Edmund by power. We all face temptations, and must overcome them. What tempts you? What could distract you from fulfilling God’s purpose in your life?
- Have there been times that God warned you as you struggled with a temptation?
- Like Lucy, did you change the direction you were headed?
- Who is a voice of reason in your life, that can help you remember who you are in moments of weakness?
Some of us have experienced and overcome hell on earth (rape, abortion, sexual abuse, eating disorders, cutting). Somewhere in your close world, there is a young woman going through what you’ve already gone through… and she needs to know what you know.
Since they can’t figure out what to do with Eustace the Dragon, Caspian, Reepicheep, Edmund, Lucy and Gael stay with him on shore. Gael stares at her locket and confesses that she misses her mommy.
- How important was it that Lucy related to Gael in that moment?
- What’s your story? What have you overcome and what have you noticed that another woman in your world needs to overcome?
- Take her for coffee and share what you know with her this week – we were not designed to do life alone… we all need each other.
Visit www.oasisla.org/video-archive/ to watch GodChicks Stories and my personal story of overcoming breast cancer.
I just love Eustace and Reepicheep’s relationship. Eustace is quite a brat, but you know what, in some way, we all are. We all come with an “as is” tag. In order to engage in real friendship with people, we have to love them “as is” and they have to love us “as is”. As Eustace is turned into a dragon, Reepicheep encourages him that perhaps what’s happened to him is extraordinary and that he could have extraordinary destiny… “something greater than you could have imagined.” He was right! Eustace helps save them all in the end!
- Not sure about you, but if my friend suddenly got herself turned into a dragon, I’d be a bit freaked out! Have you seen someone you care about in a sticky situation, but were able to see further than the moment into her extraordinary purpose?
- Think about Mary and Elizabeth – Elizabeth could have thought Mary was half crazed (come on, pregnant with the immaculate conception child?!) Instead, she rejoiced, and spoke words of encouragement and purpose over Mary. When’s the last time you encouraged a friend in her purpose?
- What’s on your “as is” tag? How can you love others “as is”?
Remember Jonah and the whale? Well, I just love that Eustace, in the body of a dragon, discovered his purpose and realized what a “sod” he was in his little boy body. He was changed forever, just like Jonah. If you’re in a sticky situation (hopefully not a dragon body), know its temporary and God will use it to change your life.
Later in the movie, as Lucy joins the others in battle and has put on her armor. She has a conversation with Gael. Gael tells Lucy, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you.” Lucy very wisely replies, “When you grow up…you should be just like you.”
Lucy has not only learned the important lesson of being who we are, but that her actions will influence another generation.
- Who is being influenced today by your actions?
- What younger woman can you bring into your world to help and encourage?
The first words that Lucy read while on Magician’s Island was a spell that makes unseen things seen. As she is said the spell Caspian, Reepicheep and Edmund were in mid-battle with the invisible spirits. They began to laugh as they realized the previously frightening spirits were actually short, fat, strange looking creatures, who were funny looking, not frightening. Often that’s how it is with us. The unknown and unseen appear terrifying. Fear, anxiety, doubt, worry, agitation can cripple us. It is only when we see our enemy for who he is that we realize he is merely shifting shadows, smoke and mirrors.
- What current enemies are you facing? Foreclosure on your home? Trouble in your marriage? Worry about your kids?
- Write the emotions attached to each problem or issue (anger, fear, doubt, worry, anxiety). Find a scripture in God’s word to battle that emotion and post it somewhere you can see it daily.
- Read James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (NIV) Does this scripture build trust in your heart toward God? (I’m so grateful He’s nothing like our enemy!!)
Just a thought… Sometimes we just have to do things afraid. Fear is an emotion, not a deciding factor. Perhaps you are afraid to try again in your marriage, in ministry, as a mother… Don’t let the fear stop you. Try again. Do it afraid.
As the Dawn Treader is swallowed into the eerie fog, Caspian faces his past. Edmund faces the familiar spirit of the witch again (I’m getting pretty sick of her!) You ever notice the evil in this film, and the devil in our case, never really seems to have any new tricks? He haunts us with our past, and he threatens us with a familiar spirit (a temptation, habit, hurt, or struggle). This works in our favor, because in order to defeat our enemy, we must know him, his tricks, and his deceitful ways, so that we can continue to defeat him in our minds.
- Have you struggled with letting your past dominate your present? Is there a video playing in your mind (something your father said, a situation you were victim of, a mistake you made)?
- What does God say concerning your past? Read Psalm 103:11-12 this week so you can be convinced of God’s perspective on a forgiven past.
- Do you have a familiar spirit that threatens you? A hurt, a struggle, a habit? What do you do when you feel tempted by this? Share this struggle with a trusted and safe friend, and then commit to saying “No!” like Edmund. Go ahead and practice yelling at the devil!
Later, Caspian realizes he’s been focused on what was taken from him, rather than what was given to him. Remember, God is the “Great I am”, not the “Great I will be” or the “Great I was”. Practicing living in the present… in the now moment. Don’t miss what’s right in front of you!
We are called to be liberators. We are born for such a time as this, to execute justice on this Earth. Never has there been a more exciting time to be alive, and God decided to trust us with time in history, to see people set free and set in right relationship with him. We see Lucy fighting alongside the crew for the freedom of people. She protects Gael as the serpent attacks the ship and when she reaches for Susan’s bow and arrow, Gael encourages her that she can do it.
- People are hurting everywhere we turn… in our neighborhoods, in our communities and across the globe. We hold the key of Christ in our hands. When’s the last time you turned the key for a friend, a neighbor, someone in your local community who needed you to?
- Its time to join the battle. People’s souls hang in the balance, and we cannot afford to be spectators to a great spiritual battle happening right now. How are you actively engaged in seeing people set free? What can you do to re-engage or to engage for the first time? (Try joining a recovery group, a small group at your local church, or supporting a social justice cause)
Remember if you are an older woman, that the younger women in your world can encourage you, support you and strengthen the purpose in your life. We need them as much as they need us!!
One of my favorite speeches in the movie was one made by Caspian as they are preparing to head into battle:
No matter what happens here, every soul who stands before me has earned their place on the crew of the Dawn Treader. Together we have traveled far. Together we have faced adversity. Together we can do it again. So now is not the time to fall to fear’s temptations. Be strong. Never give in. Our world, our Narnian lives depend on it. Think of the lost souls we’re here to save. Think of Aslan. Think of Narnia.
He was reminding them that together they have come far and that there is a cause worth fighting for. I would like to say that to you.
Together we can accomplish the impossible, and there is certainly a cause worth fighting for!
- What do you think when you read this verse? Genesis 11:6 (AMP) says, And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them.
- I am not sure of everything that that verse could mean, but it does seem to be saying that if you and I walk as one people in unity, then nothing will be impossible to us! Not the AIDS crisis, not homelessness, not ________. You fill in the blank.
- God created us with all of our uniqueness and all of our differences, so we must not have to be the same to be ‘one people.’ What do you think it take for us to walk as one?
- What is a cause worth fighting for? Bringing the love of Jesus to people? Rescuing the orphans? Or__________? You fill in the blank. And are you fighting for it? Or are you sitting on the sidelines? What can you do to get back in the fight?
In the closing scenes Aslan utters some very important words, “Welcome, children. You have done well.” Matthew 25 tells the Parable of the Talents. The story is all about what you have in your hand, and what you do with it. Two of the people multiplied their resources, while one buried his resource in the sand. To the ones that used their resources well, the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” They were faithful with what was in their hands – they were faithful with little, and would be made ruler over much. You and I only get one life, and James tells us that this life is but a vapor. Do you realize how tiny a vapor is? That’s our life in comparison to eternity.
- What are you doing with your one and only life?
- What’s in your hand? Is it a marriage, children, ministry, a career, a writing gift, a bank account? How can you commit to faithfulness in what’s in your hand?
- God uses what’s in our hands (which sometimes doesn’t look like much!) to fulfill what’s in our hearts (a massively amazing dream that seems disconnected from our current reality). How can you connect the dots between what’s in your hand now and what’s in your heart?
We all want to meet Jesus and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Live your one and only life well. Love God. Love people. Make Jesus Lord over your life. And try not to get much more complicated than that !
…your value…far above rubies and pearls…
- Old Testament, Proverbs 31, verse 10