This will be my last email to the congregation, and this Sunday’s message will be my last sermon for the next 14 weeks. I am deeply grateful to our Church Council for granting me this Sabbatical Leave. Of course I will miss you all very much. And while Leanna and I are looking forward to a time of learning and leisure as we traverse the steps of the Apostle Paul, the truisms that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “there’s no place like home” will surely come into play. We will keep you in our prayers, as I hope you will periodically keep us in yours.
The good news is we have a stellar line up of guest preachers, missionaries, and Crosswalk staff lined up to fill the pulpit during the summer months. This will be a fantastic summer at Crosswalk!
I’ve assembled just a few of the “not so famous” C.S. Lewis quotes that offer us SEVEN MAGNIFICENT life lessons as followers of Jesus.
1. Faith is a Life-Long Adventure
C.S. Lewis was converted to Christianity in 1931. Over twenty years later he came to an understanding forgiveness of his sins, not on a merely intellectual level, but on an emotive and experiential level. This was a delightful episode (he called it “perhaps the most blessed thing”) that reminded him of the Christian adventure. This is what he wrote to a friend on Feb 5, 1954:
About 2 years ago I made a similar progress from mere intellectual acceptance of, to the realization of, the doctrine that our sins are forgiven. That is perhaps the most blessed thing that ever happened to me. How little they know of Christianity who think that the story ends with conversion: novelties we never dreamed of may await us at every turn of the road.
2. Always Choose to Pursue God Over Happiness
And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
So wrote Lewis in his epic work, Mere Christianity. There is much that dazzles the eyes in today’s word, and most people seem to follow this age old mistake of choosing their own happiness over which is good and right and true and noble. Of course the strange but winsome ‘boomerang effect of Christianity is that whenever we put God first, joy will ultimately follow. Elsewhere in Mere Christianity he wrote: “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
3. Listen to the Holy Spirit Every Day
It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
How do we gain the victory over the stress and pressure of Silicon Valley life? Only by investing in what the ancients called the contemplative life. It is by a life of daily prayer and reflection on what is really important in life. Each day will be a better day if we take time for God.
4. There is Nothing More Important than your Faith in Jesus as Lord
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
C.S. Lewis spent his life defending and promoting the Christian Faith as one worldview that makes sense and as that which is rightfully the greatest priority in life. I meet so many people whose Christianity is nothing more than an intellectual belief that has little or no impact on their everyday life and decision making.
5. Always Forgive
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.
No Comment Necessary.
6. Trust the Bible
In 1953 Lewis wrote to Mrs. Emily McLay about interpreting the Bible and the problem of understanding the Bible’s teaching about predestination and free will. This lengthy letter is summed up in one sentence:
But though there is much to be puzzled about, there is nothing to be worried about.
7. Have Faith that for Those Who Love the Lord, the Best is Yet to Be
Lewis wrote many times to an American lady named Mary Willis Shelburne. She was old and frail, and wrote to Lewis complaining of the pain she was in, and that she was afraid of death. Unbeknownst to him, Lewis (known to his friends as “Jack”) was only five months away from his own death. This is a portion of what he wrote on June 17, 1963:
Dear Mary Willis,
…Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? …You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
Remember, tho’ we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round – we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you, ‘Peace, child, peace.’ Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?
Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.
Yours (and like you a tired traveler near the journey’s end),
I love the simple statement, there are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
Many blessings, and have a great summer,