Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Lesson From C.S. Lewis On His Birthday: You Are Never Too Old To Dream

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis
Today, November 29, 2011, would have been C.S. Lewis’s 113th birthday. It makes me think of the quote from Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings who was 111 when he said, “Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

C.S. Lewis is of course famous for his theological treatises, as well as his fairy tales. What interests me is that late in life, C.S. Lewis wrote less theological treatises and more “children’s” stories, believing that lessons are learned better when told in story form.  Beyond believing that he was right, it interests me because many of us as we age tend to move away from fairy tales and fantasies, exchanging such frivolity for the mundane and serious.  I may be fantastic in my belief, but I suspect that Lewis was more of a child when he died than when he was a young man.

This is important.  Actually it is, in my mind, of critical importance. Namely, I believe we must work hard as we age to continue to dream, continue to set goals, some of which are fantastic. Dreams are what give the soul life; wishful fantasies are important to bring joy to the mundane drudgery in which we too often live.

Dreaming can become difficult the older we get because we are afraid of disappointment. Past failures cause us to be afraid to trust… to trust ourselves or to trust that God will not disappoint.  We must learn to dream big, but to hold such dreams loosely. We need to trust God that He will always fulfill our wildest fantasies…as long as they are good for us.  In the same way that a parent must temper a child’s desires, God will not always fulfill every fantasy of ours. But just like a parent who loves her child, God will fulfill every healthy wish.  In fact, He generally will fulfill far beyond what we could have hoped and dreamed (cf. Ephesians 3:20).

So in honor of C.S. Lewis’s birthday, dust off some of those wild ideas, dream big, and set a new, fantastic goal.  Put the fear in the backseat and floor the accelerator.  Turn the radio up, and let your hair blow in the wind… no matter how old you are.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We Live...Starved For Solitude, Silence, and Privacy

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” C.S. Lewis
Privacy is a rare commodity; solitude is virtually extinct; and most of us start getting worried when we experience lengthy silence.  It is, quite frankly, a recipe for disaster.  C. S. Lewis talks about true friendship as stemming from the deepest part of a person, from the secret place of the soul, the inner chambers of true self. We are built to live in community, yet silence, solitude and meditation are critical for spiritual growth, to examine ourselves, and as we learn of ourselves, learn to be a good friend.  It is no coincidence that time for devotions is often referred to as, “quiet time.”  God’s voice is most clearly heard in silence, solitude, and privacy.

Please understand.  There are many who read this that are lonely, and are sick of the solitude.   The pain of loneliness is a terrific burden.  As I mentioned above, we are built for community.  Yet, for most of us, we need to learn to value solitude and silence.  We need to learn to value it because it is so important to be able to meditate and to develop a true friendship with God.  And it really is about learning to value it because setting aside time for silence to be alone with God is choice.

Most of us live in a very busy world. It is dangerous. Busyness withers the soul.

In silence, solitude and privacy we find friendship…with the God of the universe.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Your Whole Life Is A Continuum Toward Wholeness or Destruction

‎"Your life is a continuum where wholeness is on one end and destruction is on the other. Each decision you make is moving you one direction towards wholeness and peace with God, or away from Him." C. S. Lewis
I have a friend that often reminds me that, "There is no such thing as the status quo; change is inevitable.  We are either improving or going backwards." He is right, and C.S. Lewis applies this principle to our relationship with God.  There are, however,  two unfortunate things. 

First, most of us tend to like the status quo. We don't like change.  We like where we are at and are fearful of messing up a good thing.  We fail to truly understand that, in the case of the Christian, all change is good, even change that brings about pain.  Instead of being wary of change, Christians need to be people who enthusiastically embrace change.  Roosevelt's oft quoted saying, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" is truer for the Christian than for anybody else because we have the assurance that all things, even painful things, will benefit us.

The second unfortunate thing is that being fallen, we tend to sabotage our path to wholeness.  As Paul said in Romans, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want." (Romans 7:18-19). The key is to acknowledge our tendency, to embrace the forgiveness that is made available to us, and to repent, that is, turn back around and head toward wholeness. There is never a time when you have gone too far down the road of destruction. We can always turn back toward God. 

True wholeness is found only in Him.  When we are not moving toward Him, we are ultimately on the path of destruction.  Make a decision today to move toward wholeness, that is, to move toward Him.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pain But Without Stain

“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”  C.S. Lewis
Like many of sentences written by C.S. Lewis, this one sentence is packed with a host of powerful truths.

First, God foresaw all of our tribulations. This is not insignificant.  Often, if you are like me, our first thoughts when the inevitable trials come are something akin to, “God has forgotten me.”  We subconsciously feel that God is supposed to protect us, and since He is not protecting us, then He has forgotten about us. 

Which brings us to the second truth, namely He has not only not forgotten about us, but He has specially prepared us to survive.   For one thing, we have a Savior who suffered immensely and was tempted in every way. For another thing, the Holy Spirit works in our lives now to comfort (Romans 8:26), to guide (John 14:26), and to intercede on our behalf (Romans 8:26).

The third truth is simply that we will suffer pain in life, but that He will bring us through it without stain and actually in better shape than we were. This truth has to be hammered home, however. Namely, we can be walking perfectly within God’s will, but we will still suffer pain.  The “prosperity gospel” will tell you otherwise. It says that if you are suffering it is because you do not have enough faith.  As far as I am concerned, that is a carefully crafted lie by the Devil himself.  No, you can be walking perfectly in God’s will, and you are still guaranteed to suffer.  God does not protect us from pain.  We will metaphorically suffer bruises, bumps, and broken bones.  The greatest comfort of all is, however, that God will take those injuries, heal them, and bring us through it stronger.

Amen, what a Savior!