So I recently finished Mere Christianity. Believe it or not, it is the first C.S. Lewis book I’ve ever finished outside of the Narnia series. Took me a long time to get through it – mostly because I have a hard time with nonfiction. Give me a fiction book, and I will devour it voraciously – just Saturday I finished an entire book in one sitting. Nonfiction books I tend to plod through carefully and painfully, no matter whether I think the subject is interesting or not.
But Mere Christianity was excellent. I know everyone says it is excellent – but I was still very pleasantly surprised. One of the last chapters really stood out to me. Well, a few of the last parts did, but there was one in particular that really hit me and I wanted to write about it – so now I am looking through the book, since it has been a week or so, trying to remember which one it was. And I think I found it. 😛 It is the chapter on whether Christianity is hard or easy.
Lewis reminds us that God says to give Him all, as a Christian. That he doesn’t want bits and pieces of you – or, as Lewis puts it, branches – He wants to chop the entire tree down so that He can work in you. What really struck me, and I didn’t like it, but at the same time I recognized its truth, was this sentence: “Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked. The whole outfit.” I mean – what Christian thinks of handing over innocent wishes and desires along with potentially harmful ones? I had to pray about that one – because handing over my wishes to be a writer was surprisingly painful – especially since I already thought I had given it to God and realized I hadn’t.
Handing over the desires to show people in my office what it meant to be a Christian was also hard, because what harm could there be in that? It took me awhile to figure out that, yes, God wanted that part too. Because one, if I said or did something He wasn’t ready to show them, it could turn them off to Christianity instead of on, and two, I was trying to be the example to them instead of letting God be the example to them. It was a humiliating lesson to learn. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t witness to them – it only means that I need to hand that desire over to God so that He can control when and how I witness to them. At least that is what I decided. Either way – God still wants and needs control of it – all of it.
“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. . . For what we are trying to do is remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way – centred on money or pleasure or ambition – and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly.”
This paragraph also strikes me as so true. What harm can it be to be happy while we follow Christ, right? Plenty of harm, if it means placing ourselves above Him. If it means not handing even those joys and goals to Him and letting Him work an even greater purpose in our lives.
And then there was this paragraph. The challenge. The one that I am trying to take most to heart because it is a key step to implementing what I have learned.
“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.”
Living a life completely centered in Christ is not easy. But neither is it easy to live a life centered on yourself. For me, it is worth the sacrifices to let God rule in my life because I know, no matter how hard something might seem, He always has my best at heart and I trust Him more than I trust anyone in my life – yes, even my husband. 🙂 And, to my utter surprise, I have discovered one of the hardest parts is giving up wishes and desires you believe to be innocent. Yet, that is what it means to give your all to Him. And in the end, I firmly believe, you and the people around you will be better for it.