It was a series of fireside chats with a handful of friends that transformed C.S. Lewis from a belief in atheism to a belief in God. He would refer to J.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson as the immediate cause of his conversion and describe his indebtedness toward them as ‘incalculable’. He recounts his initial encounter with God as follows:
“A young atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side. My Adversary would not argue philosophy. He only said, ‘I am the Lord. I am that I am. I am.’ You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humilty which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compel them to come in, plumb the depth of the divine mercy.”
Lewis went on to author lauded commentaries on living the Christian life, but it was the death of his beloved wife that caused him to revisit his doubt and rethink his perception of God. He wrote, “Your bid – for God or no God – will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high.” In other words, it is not a difficult thing to say that we believe in God when it costs us nothing. It is relatively easy to fall into step with like believers when the events of our lives proceed as usual. It is when tragedy strikes, and we spiral helplessly through the dark chasm of the unknown that we begin to understand what it means to surrender control; to live without negotiation.
Thankfully, Jesus does not back away from our questions and doubts; in fact, He encourages them. He does not hold us at arm’s length while we struggle to reconcile what we believe. Knowing His disciple, Thomas, had reservations, He urged him, “Come ahead. See for yourself.” God used Malachi to say to Israel, “Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
“Test me; try me; see for yourself.” No believer could ask for more.
Walking with Christ is not about burying your doubts. It is about lining up to see the scarred hands, the wounded side. It is about pressing in and drinking deeply of His word, His promises, His presence. It is about interpreting the events of your life through His perspective, and not your own.
In 1941, Lewis preached a sermon at Oxford titled, THE WEIGHT OF GLORY. In it, he abbreviated his faith and lent perspective to the rest of us when he wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
I don’t doubt it.
I hope you all have a happy March. We have spotted a couple of bulbs that couldn’t wait any longer to show off their spring wardrobe. I’m loving it!