“If I run away, it’ll be after me in a moment,” thought Jill. “And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth.” Anyway, she couldn’t have moved if she had tried, and she couldn’t take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.
“If you’re thirsty, you may drink.”
They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, “If you are thirsty, come and drink,” and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
I mentioned before that The Silver Chair is my favorite book in The Chronicles of Narnia, not only because of the character of Puddleglum, but also because of its theme of obedience and faith. It also contains a lot of passages which can be interpreted in the light of Scriptures, such as the excerpt I quoted above, which is from Chapter 2, “Jill Is Given a Task.”
In the story, Jill and Eustace had just stumbled into Aslan’s Country, a rich forest where “huge trees, rather like cedars but bigger, grew in every direction” and where there was “not a breath of wind in that cool, bright air.” While Eustace was trying to keep Jill from falling off a very high cliff, he lost his balance and fell himself, only to be saved by the Great Lion, Aslan, who blew him all the way to Narnia.
After crying a lot by herself in horror of what happened (the Lion had left her after blowing Eustace off), Jill started feeling very thirsty. She looked around and finally saw a stream, which was “bright as glass,” instantly making her feel even thirstier than before. Before she could stoop for a drink though, she noticed the figure of the Lion lying by the stream.
While she was debating to herself whether to run or drink, the Lion spoke. “If you’re thirsty, you may drink.” He is obviously giving her permission to approach and drink from the stream.
While Jill was still standing, uncertain of what to do and unsure of who said the words, the Lion spoke again. “If you are thirsty, come and drink.” This is now more than giving permission, he is actually giving her an invitation to drink and quench her thirst.
Jill finally realized that it was the Lion who was speaking to her, and it frightened her. “Are you not thirsty?” the Lion asked her. After replying in the affirmative, he said, “Then drink.” This is not only an invitation, but an outright instruction or directive to approach Him and drink from the stream.
But what is it about the water that is so important that he not only needed to permit Jill to drink it, but he had to invite and even order her to do so when she hesitated?
Aslan knew that the water will quench Jill’s thirst. He understood how thirsty Jill was, and knew that she needed a drink of water to clear her head and prepare her for the task he was about to give her.
In the same way, Jesus understands our thirst – be it physical (like thirst for water), mental (like thirst for knowledge) or emotional (like thirst for love). In His own time and in His own way, He provides the things that would quench this thirst.
But there’s one more thirst that we all have, and which Jesus alone can meet. It’s our inherent thirst for God. As it says in Psalm 42:1-2: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.” But how do we quench this thirst?
There was one interesting occasion when Jesus offered water to someone too. In John 4, He told the Samaritan woman, “… those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” The water He is referring to, the Living Water, is Himself. And He permits, invites and instructs all of us to quench our thirst for God through Him.
And when the Lion – or Jesus, the Lion of Judah – tells you to drink, the best thing you can do is to do as Jill did. “She went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted.”