Tag Archive | C.S. Lewis

The Eternal “Why?”

This post is a part of my 10-minute Tuesday series. I take a one-word prompt and write for 10 minutes without heavy editing and see what happens. Heresy? Hopefully not! Just realize that things are not necessarily fully thought through. Consider it food for thought.

When my kids turned 3, they all entered the “why?” stage. Any answer they were given or thing they were told always prompted the question, “Why?” from them. Not wanting to squelch curiosity, I would answer as much as I could, but eventually I would grow weary of it and say, “Just because!”

Morgan's birthday9

Somehow, “why?” is a question we want answered all the way through our lives. It’s something we challenge God with often. And it’s not something that we get an answer to very often. “Why do I have to go to bed now?” turns into “Why is this happening to me?” Why do I have to suffer? Why is my child dealing with cancer? Why did you let my husband die?

Unlike us, God does not grow weary of our questions, but on the other hand, He doesn’t choose to answer our “whys” very often either.

Maybe “why?” isn’t actually the right question. Maybe we need to be asking, “How can I know You better through this?” What can I learn about You? How am I going to walk with You through this? How are You going to reveal yourself to me?

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I don’t think God cares that we ask, I just don’t think He owes us an explanation. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORDFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I don’t think that’s quite the equivalent of “because I’m the mom, that’s why,” but there is a strong element of trust that needs to go into our life with the Lord. We know from Romans that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romas 8:28). As C.S. Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

For our good and His glory. That’s why.

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Open-Heart Surgery

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I use a one-word prompt provided by a friend and write for just 10 minutes without heavy editing and see what I come up with. Today’s prompt is “surgery.”

In the evenings, my family is reading out loud the classic At Home in Mitford by Jan Caron. Yesterday’s reading including a scene where Hoppy Harper, the town doctor, was telling Father Tim, the main character in the stories, how it was when his wife died several years before.

Mitford

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“I’ve been away from church so long . . . so long away from . . . believing.” Hoppy leaned against the wall, avoiding the rector’s gaze. “I’ve been very angry with God.”

“I understand.”

“He operated without anesthetic.”

He looked at the man who had lost his wife of sixteen years, and saw the sure mark that bitterness and overwork had left. Yet, something tonight was easier in him.

At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon, p. 148

 

 

Loss can feel that way, like surgery without anesthetic. Hoppy’s wife had died of cancer, and he wasn’t really ready for it. And it hurt.

A lot.

It was a good analogy for the town doctor to describe the pain he felt.

People in the medical profession know that deep infections have to be cut out in order for healing to happen. If there is an abscess, work will need to be done. A gangrened limb has to be cut off. It’s really better to get these things taken care of before such dire measures are needed.

Likewise, God will perform surgery on our hearts whenever there’s something that needs to be cut out: idolatry, envy, covetousness. But He can also pry open our closed hearts if we aren’t letting ourselves be known by others.

We were created to live in community, and if we’re not experiencing authentic community, God may need to get our attention to let us know that we’re holding ourselves back.

Just having friends isn’t enough. We need to be willing to open up ourselves, to be real, to be known, to be authentic. If we don’t do this ourselves, we might find ourselves experiencing depression or extreme loneliness. It’s not healthy for our hearts to hide themselves.

There’s also a scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Dawn Treader where the boy Eustace, who has been turned into a dragon because of his greed and generally obnoxious personality, has an encounter with the lion, Aslan. In order to be turned back into a real boy, Eustace has to undergo a type of surgery.

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After several attempts to free himself from the terrible dragon scales, Eustace hears Aslan say,

“You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I had turned into a boy again.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, pp 90-91.

Our scaly hearts need God’s attention. And He won’t always use anesthetic. But we can be assured that the outcome will be worth it.

Ezekiel 33:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (New International Version).

 

Sweet Surprise

secret_surprise_2For my 30th birthday, my husband threw me a surprise party. We went out to dinner and were just planning on going home and hanging out. This was before we had kids, just 9 months after we had gotten married and 4 months after we had moved to Florida from my home state of California. Needless to say, my stress level was very high, even though some of those events were good ones. Like the getting married part.

When we got to our apartment, I was met with a sweet group of friends all gathered to celebrate my day. It was truly a surprise, which is often hard to pull off, and a lovely reminder of how much I am loved.

Those kinds of surprises are great. Others, not so much. Like when your favored team loses to a major underdog in the surprise performance of the century (looking at you Virginia). I don’t like those kinds of surprises.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book back in 1955 titled Surprised by Joy, which tells the story of his conversion to Christianity. Although he says it’s much less a chronology of events than it is a look at his life as only C.S. Lewis can tell it.

Surprise. Something unexpected.

I remember when my kids were little and I wanted them to keep a secret about secretsomething, like a gift for someone, I would tell them it was going to be a surprise rather than a secret, because I wanted to ensure that they didn’t keep secrets. I knew the stories of abuse that have happened with a relative who would tell a vulnerable child that this behavior would be their secret. They weren’t ever to keep secrets from us.

But surprises are meant to be fun. I like to think of them as good. I think that’s what Lewis found as he came up with the name for his book. He was an atheist. He didn’t know what he would find when he turned back to God. Joy was unexpected.

In some cases, we may wonder why we are surprised at the things God does. We ask Him joyto provide, and He does it. Sometimes it’s not in the way we expect, so we can call that a surprise, but not the fact that He does it.

It’s not the same as being startled.

It’s different than being shocked.

Some people don’t like surprises, and if I had to guess, I would say that it’s because it takes a modicum of control away from them. Just tell me what’s going to happen already. I want to know what to expect.

But that’s where trust comes in.

I’m not in charge, and if I allow myself to be surprised, I might just be blessed by a God who wants to give me all good things.

Like C.S. Lewis and joy.

 

images from tonnerdoll.com; nameberry.com; crosswalk.com

10 Random Nuggets (not the chicken kind)

* If you teach, people will learn; but who you are is what they’ll become. (Pastor Van Fielden)

* The desert is a transition. For the Israelites, it was a really long transition, but it was a transition nonetheless. They weren’t going to stay there. We often resent the desert, but it is the place where God does His deepest work. (Pastor Van.)

* I used to think the the American Sign Language sign for “reign,” as in “Our God reigns” was inappropriate, until I watched Morgan taking riding lessons and listened to what her instructor was saying. If you don’t let the horse know you’re the one in charge, it’ll do whatever it wants. Kind of like us if we don’t heed the directions of the reins that God is holding. So He reigns in our lives when we let Him hold the reins in our life, thus the sign–two hands acting like they’re holding reins and moving back and forth as if directing a team of horses.

* “When I find myself in the cellar of affliction, I always look about for the wine.” (Samuel Rutherford)

* “If You took Your eyes off of us, we would be undone.” (Pastor Greg Riggs) Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

* “Truth is too important to kill it in the streets for the sake of peace.” (R.C. Sproul)

* “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” (C.S. Lewis)

* God feeds the birds, but He don’t throw the worms in their nests.” (Andy Andrews)

* “When you demand your rights, your joy decreases. When you give up your rights, your joy increases.” (John MacArthur)

* “Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm. Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low. Oh no, You never let go. Lord, You never let go of me.” (Matt Redman)

Thankful today for:

297. salad

298. fro yo

299. communion

300. iced tea

301. staples

302. cacophony

Making My Life Count

I always wanted to write the great American novel. I wanted it to be something that withstood the test of time. Now, at the age of 50, I find that pipe dream becoming like so much smoke. What do I really have to say, anyway? I have no story in me just waiting to get out. Will I ever? I don’t know. But I’m learning that I need to be satisfied with where God has me, while still trying to be all that God wants me to be.

But I was thinking about different writers I’ve read. Some of them have been good, some not so much.Take Dostoyevsky for example: now, that man could write. His amazing works have definitely stood the test of time, but I doubt I could get my children to read him. They are much more of the Harry Potter generation.

Speaking of which, how in the world did J.K. Rowling come up with the amazingly imaginative, complicated and action-packed plot, sustained through 7 novels? I admit, I loved the Harry Potter series. That doesn’t always go over well in the evangelical world. But, as a writer, I thought they were very well written and fun. I am amazed at her ability to tell an enchanting tale. She certainly had an impact on life. There’s now an entire theme park in Orlando based off of her creation. Amazing.

But is J.K. Rowling on the same level as Dostoyevsky?

Nicholas Sparks, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Danielle Steele. All of them have become very wealthy writing books people like to read. And making movies out of them. But have they changed the world? Words are powerful, so if their words have gotten even one person to look at things differently, then yes, they have changed a small corner of the world.

C.S. Lewis? J.R.R. Tolkien? Masterful storytellers whose books finally made it to the big screen. Did they change the world? For those who have been touched by their works, they have certainly had an influence.

For good or for evil, words change lives.

I’ll be honest with you, I struggle with my motivation for writing this blog. Do I just write so that people will read it and think it’s great? (Thank you to those who have hit the “like” button over the past couple of months.) Or do I write because to not do so would be like not breathing? Is it so ingrained in me that I simply must write lest I die? Or do I just want to cause someone who reads my words to say, “Huh. I never thought of it that way before”?

I want to change the world. But I know without the power of Jesus in my life, that won’t happen. And maybe my world is just the three kids I call my own. If my influence is only on them, and that is what God has called me to do, then that should satisfy me.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 New International Version).

Offering to God everything I do, whether it’s writing, copy editing, or teaching a classroom full of 2nd graders. Everything. And let Him do with it what He may. Write because He compels me to, not because someone might think it’s a good read.

But it sure would be nice to see my name on the jacket of a book some day.

Thankful today for:

69. the beach
70. three days alone with my husband
71. corporate discounts on hotel rooms at the beach