This post last updated on February 19th, 2022
That’s how Aslan explained unintended consequences to Polly in C.S. Lewis‘ first Narnia story, The Magicians Nephew. The unintended consequences were a result of Jadis the witch after she rebelliously ate from the tree that Aslan gave to the Narnians for “joy and life and health.”
The consequence? To Jadis, the tree became “death and horror and despair.”
Dictionary.com says a consequence is “the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.” I found some interesting similar words to go with that like aftermath, fallout, and repercussion.
How about backwash? Not even joking. It’s in there, too.
Unintended is defined as “Happening by chance, inadvertent, unplanned.” Sometimes that’s what is going on when people say, “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
Have you ever witnessed the unintended, unplanned fallout as a result of someone’s actions? I certainly have, and pretty sure I’m not the only one. After seeing consequences in someone who is intimately close to me, the experience of watching repercussions in a family member’s life really sucks.
My instinct is to rescue them, but we don’t always want to be rescued from our choices, do we? There have been several points in my own messy life when an intervention or a rescue would have been great. Truth is though, when I needed it the most is when I would have been most resistant to the help.
That’s made me realize that when I take action, whether good or bad, there are consequences. Some of those I may never see. Many of them are even unintended.
Some of the consequences of my actions are encouraging to others. Other effects my actions have had on people are better defined as aftermath. Kind of like when a tornado is unleashed on a community.
And sadly, I may never even see or know what effects my actions have had on some people. The trouble with us humans is that we can be such a selfish bunch.
Good and Bad Consequences
The word consequence in modern English usually makes you think about negative things. But did you realize there can be positive consequences to your actions? In everyone’s life’s journey, particularly for the Christian, there are two roads to travel: obedience or rebellion. And both carry consequences, good and bad.
John Piper once said very accurately of the Apostle Paul,
Can you relate to that? Maybe you’re facing the unintended consequences either from your own choices, or as the result of another person’s actions. Or maybe you’re in the middle of a struggle, in despair, or even living in rebellion yourself. Does the idea of life sometimes feeling like a fight, a race, or even a war make you cry out with a resounding “Why?”
I sure wonder why we have to contend with all of the trials and the constant wars over battles already won by Christ on the cross. Death has been defeated, the end of the book is written and the enemy is overcome. So why such a struggle? I agree with Paul when he asks of the Christian life, “Why the race, the struggle, the constant warring against anxiety?”
You could rightly say, “I’m exhausted. I’m in pain. My life is a mess and I can hardly get up and walk, and now you want to use Paul to remind me I need to engage in a race?
The short answer is yes, but before we go there, I encourage you to get a head start by reading Hebrews chapter 12. Maybe even a few times. It speaks about the example of Jesus’ suffering and provides “a serious warning against refusing God.”
Back to Narnia. Polly assumed that because Jadis used the fruit of life “in the wrong way” that it simply wouldn’t work for her any longer.
“Alas,” said Aslan, shaking his head. “It will. Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart’s desire… all get what they want; they do not always like it.”