I used this episode from The Silver Chair as an illustration of the need to obey God even when it doesn’t make sense during a sermon I preached on Genesis 22 (Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac) last fall. If you remember, the children are given four “signs” by Aslan to help them complete their task of finding prince Rilian. The fourth sign was that they would know the prince by this, that he would be the first to ask them to do something in the name of Aslan. The problem is, the person who fulfills the sign is the prince of the Underworld who is tied to a chair because he is under an enchantment – and to make matters worse, they have just promised each other that they will not untie him no matter what!
“Oh, what are we to do?” Said Jill.
It was a dreadful question. What had been the use of promising one another that they would not on any account set the Knight free, if they were now to do so the first time he happened to call upon a name they really cared about? On the other hand, what had been the use of learning the signs if they weren’t going to obey them? Could Aslan really have meant them to unbind anyone – even a lunatic – who asked it in his name? Could it be a mere accident? But then, supposing this was the real sign? They had muffed three already; they daren’t muff the fourth.
“Oh, if only we knew!” said Jill.
“I think we do know,” said Puddleglum.
“Do you mean you think everything will come right if we untie him?” said Scrubb.
“I don’t know about that,” said Puddleglum. “You see, Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign.”