Even when I’m not shopping around for new lessons to learn, God seems to use the writings of C.S. Lewis to nudge me toward the truths he’s trying to teach me.
There’s something about that man’s words that penetrate my heart so deeply. He’s got an incredible gift for constructing sentences that simultaneously pierce my conscience and bathe my soul in hope.
For someone who’s lately been feeling like reading my Bible is more chore than joy, and wondering why my prayers seem so drab, Lewis’s words about the ebb and flow—or peaks and troughs—of the Christian’s journey were fitting.
From The Screwtape Letters, ch. 8: (Just so we’re all clear, this entire story is told from a demon’s perspective.)
Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.
Well, that’s encouraging, at least I’m in good company.
And later, discussing the process of growth and the possibility of overcoming emotion with the will, he writes:
He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs– to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best.
Go back; read those last two lines again.
… Then somebody grab me a tissue, I have something in my eye.
One’s not (really?) a horrible person for (hypothetically, asking for a friend) allowing
my thoughts to veer into the irreverent during morning devotionals? JOB, exactly how many more chapters of your complaining do I have left to read; stop scratching your boils, you’ll only make them bleed. And Paul, dial back that intensity, all that talk about beating your body into submission is making me uncomfortable.
And just when I thought Lewis couldn’t possibly have more to say to me, one of Christ’s precious little turdlings, he concludes with this:
He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. … Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
Seriously, I need the Kleenex.™©®