“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves — that, though we cannot, yet these projections can, enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can’t. They tell us that “beauty born of murmuring sound” will pass into human face; but it won’t. Or not yet.
For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” – C.S Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Posts Tagged ‘C. S. Lewis’
“This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash.” - C. S. Lewis
Looks pretty good to the kids (all three of us).
Two of the bloggers I read have been talking about how real life is not as clear cut as we sometimes would like it to be. As a matter of fact, it’s down right messy, broken and confusing. And if anyone offers you easy answers…well… like C. S. Lewis said, “Let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies – these over-simple answers.”
Brant Hansen has come back from a short blogging hiatus with two posts (must reads, in my opinion) about his own stuggles, and it turns out, lots of other folks’ same stuggles. “Fellow losers” comes from his second post.
Dan Edelen posts here about using the words “I don’t know” when trying to answer the question, “What’s God trying to teach you through this circumstance?”
Both really speak, in different ways, about our compulsion to tidy up our messy, unfinished lives so that we look like we’ve got it all together to anyone who happens to be watching. We’ve all done it, most of us have done it so long we don’t even notice it anymore.
The problem is, it’s a lie, and it makes us a lie too.
For a lot of years I dismissed the “Because you’re all a bunch of hypocrites” standard reason why folks don’t go to church, because I thought they were using it as a smokescreen. Of course we’re all hypocrites, that’s a given. They just didn’t want to deal with God and their own messes.
I still think it is a smokescreen, sometimes. But I also think that there isn’t much that is as unattractive and repulsive as a sales pitch from someone you know is a fraud. And they know we are frauds.
We tell them, “You need Jesus. Just trust in God and he’ll make your problems disappear. Your marriage will be better, your kids will have straight teeth and straight A’s, and you’ll get that promotion. Oh yeah, remember to tithe and God will pour out the financial blessings, pressed down and shaken together.”
Then they look at our lives and know it’s a lie. The divorce rate among evangelicals is a little above national averages, our kids need braces and tutors too, most of us dislike our jobs as much as they do and tithing usually results only in having 90 % of our income to live on.
I’m not saying God doesn’t help with at least some of those things, sometimes. I’m just saying God isn’t as easy to pin down as we lead folks to believe. Psalm 77 says, “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen…” Isaiah 55, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” His ways are past tracing out according to Paul in Romans. But we think the only way people will believe us is if everything has easy answers… and six steps to an easy life.
I think about the only thing we (us, not Jesus) have to offer this world of brokenness is the truth. The ugly, rough edged, I need prozac, I don’t know the answer, I’m a mess and that’s who God prefers to love, truth.
A little honesty, that’s all.
Wouldn’t you breathe a little easier if this Sunday your Pastor got up in the pulpit and started his sermon with the words, “Fellow losers…”? I mean, after the shock (and the laughter) wore off, wouldn’t it be nice not to have to carry around the heavy load of pretending everything was fine? If the “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” face we put on when get out of the car and walk through the parking lot wasn’t needed, wouldn’t your step be a little lighter?
Do you want to know what is attractive to this world? Having real hope in the midst of the same trials and tribulations everyone on the planet shares. Being honest about what a life trying to follow Jesus looks like. Cavities, warts, confusion, chemical imbalances and all.
When we show that to those who are watching, then they might just listen to what we are saying.
“A sacrificial life is the means, and the only means, by which a life of faith matures.” Eugene Peterson in The Jesus Way, (pg. 50)
This sentence has troubled me a bit, maybe more than a bit, the last couple of days.
Let’s rephrase. “The only way my faith will mature, can mature, is living a life of sacrifice.”
But that’s exactly what I don’t want to do. I want the bigger house, the relatively new cars, vacations every year at the beach and God’s favor, wisdom and the kind of spiritual depth that puts me in the same class as Brother Lawrence, A.W. Tozer and Mother Teresa. I don’t want to give up anything. Or if I have to, make it as small a sacrifice as I can. Like C. S. Lewis’ description, I’m “very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them all right, but he does hope that there will be enough left over to live on.”
It’s fear really. Fear of knowing what might happen if I don’t keep God at arms length. You see, I know, like Teresa of Avila, how God sometimes treats his friends. And I’m afraid of what he might ask of me, what I might have to lay on the altar.
I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to a lot of guys who fear the same thing. But to do anything about that fear is a ways beyond the norm in the American church. Instead we go on whistling through the cemetery. And then in an incredible act of chutzpah, I (we?) still expect to have it all, and anyone or anything that keeps me from having it all better be ready for a lot of whining and hissy fits.
What would it look like if instead of saying, “Mine!”, I said, “It’s yours.”? I might start growing up a little.
“There are very few people
who realise what God would make of them
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace.” -St Ignatius