Learning now to ride “those winged, shining and world-shaking horses”

August 19, 2013

In the last chapter of C.S. Lewis’s Miracles, Lewis faces head-on the challenge of imagining “heaven”—as in our ultimate future life on the other side of resurrection—as physical and bodily. We have many things working against us: naturalism, mysticism, Deism, Platonism—not to mention that the most exalted of our own modest spiritual experiences seems to render our own bodies beside the point.

Each of these challenges to our imagination, he says, is a symptom of the same problem: our bodies and spirits have been estranged from one another since the Fall. “Spirit and Nature have quarrelled in us; that is our disease. Nothing we can yet do enables us to imagine its complete healing.”[1]

In resurrection, however, as hard as it is to imagine, the rift between physical and spiritual will be healed. He concludes with this striking analogy of the relationship between our present and future bodies:

These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else—since He has retained His own charger—should we accompany Him?[2]

Twenty-five years ago, as a scientifically-minded young Christian student trying to make my way through Georgia Tech with my faith intact, I fell in love with the music of Keith Green. His Ministry Years Vol. 1  (It’s still in print! Buy it!) was in constant rotation on my portable CD player. Even then, however, I found his song “I Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven,” with its depiction of heaven so down-to-earth—so corporeal, so physical—hopelessly childish and naive.

While it’s hardly my favorite Green song, I now view my rejection of Green’s imagery as childish and naive.

Here’s a pristine-video-quality performance of the song, which according to YouTube, comes from The 700 Club. I’m guessing from around 1980.

1. C.S. Lewis, Miracles (New York: HarperOne, 1996), 259-60.

2. Ibid., 266.

2 Responses to “Learning now to ride “those winged, shining and world-shaking horses””

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Great! Who knows, maybe we will really get to see the “real” Reepicheep when we get there!

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