What You Meant

*Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read A Horse and His Boy, this post gives away almost EVERYTHING.*

A fellow heard the prophecy regarding how the baby Cor would one day save Archenland. Desiring the downfall of Archenland, he purposed in his heart to thwart the prophesied end.

His purposes seemed to be accomplished when Cor, now known as Shasta, grew up doing menial labor in the house of an uneducated Calormene fisherman, completely unaware of Archenland and unconcerned with its fate.

But what the fellow meant for evil, Aslan meant for good. His evil action only set the stage for Aslan’s great plan–the prophesied deliverance.

A Tarkaan saw the boy working hard in the fisherman’s tent. Desiring a slave with whom he could do whatever he wished, he purposed in his heart to buy the teenaged Shasta.

His purposes seemed to be accomplished when the fisherman begins to barter, selling away his “son” for a few crescents.

But what the Tarkaan meant for evil, Aslan meant for good. The Tarkaan’s evil intentions only gave the impetus for Shasta to begin his flight.

A stepmother sees her step-daughter and hates her. Desiring to have away with her, she purposed in her heart to marry the girl off.

Her purposes seem to be accomplished when the engagement goes through and the girl leaves her home.

But what the stepmother meant for evil, Aslan meant for good. The stepmother’s evil intentions only made a way for Aravis and Shasta to meet, and to become traveling companions.

Dozens of characters, each with their own purposes. The pleasure-seeking Lasaraleen. The lust-driven Rabadash. The conquest-happy Tisroc. The favor-currying Vizier. Even Shasta and Aravis have their own selfish motivations.

Evil actors seem to drive the story to its deadly end.

But all the evil actors, however much evil they meant, had no power against the purposes of the main Actor.

Each actor is a free agent, acting according to the intents of his own heart–and it seems that every actor’s intents are evil. Even the “good” choices were often made with poor intentions: pride, self-preservation, shame. Every bad choice is fully the actor’s responsibility. He clearly chose, of the evil in his own heart, to act as he did.

Yet every evil perpetuated out of the evil in man’s heart was turned into good by the sovereign hand of Aslan.

Conversely, any good that any actor did was not out of the good in his own heart (as though he had good in his heart out of which to act), but was generally the result of the direct hand of Aslan–the Lion at their heels, driving them wherever He willed, compelling them to ride faster than they thought themselves capable of riding.

As such, no actor deserves glory for his good actions; each actor only deserves punishment for his evil.

Yet Aslan, in His mercy, withheld just punishment from many who did evil–and justly received glory for every good deed.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
~Genesis 50:20

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge
This post is yet another collection of notes from my reading of The Horse and His Boy for Carrie’s Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge.