Fifty years ago today, Jack Lewis entered the High Countries (as he called it). This man’s testimony (going from Atheism to Christianity), though marked by imperfections, is also marked by incredible richness and above all was a voice of sanity in an era of madness. He had a prophetic edge to much of what He said, and now we are living in an age of thought which he foresaw, and warned us to flee. The postmodernist mantra of the subjectivity of truth, the diminishment of reason for the sake of “communalism,” and the misdirected use of joy and desire were all things Lewis combatted, decades before they became the prevailing “winds of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).”
God has strategically used Lewis to change my life. Not only that, but in seasons of difficulty, darkness, even discouragement . . . the ink of Lewis’ pen was used by the Spirit of God to illuminate the truth of the all-satisfying joy found in Christ. One season of my life, while I was traveling quite a bit (with my sister Jaclyn), we listened to Focus on the Family’s radio theatre versions of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” It was as if God had us spending a season in Narnia, to learn the richness of resting between the paws of the Great Lion.
Thus, I want to pay homage as it were, to a man whom I owe a certain debt of gratitude. Though he was flawed, the trajectory of his life was ever onward, ever deeper, ever forward into the truth and glory of Jesus Christ. Here are a few Lewis gems which still move me deeply.
Faith in the Unseen
“One word, Ma’am,” [Puddleglum] said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
Puddleglum, from The Silver Chair
Puddleglum taught me that to be a true man of God, will often require standing in the face of this world’s enchantments, defying it to its face, stamping out its alluring fire, and boldly declaring that I will follow Christ no matter the evidence of the “deceiver.” Feelings, emotions, philosophies all lie; God cannot lie. Thus, I will live as a Narnian, even if there is no Narnia!
The Centrality of Christ
“There have been men before . . . who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself . . . as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.”
The Great Divorce
This pithy quote, and the rest of this book, awakened me to the danger of pursuing the doctrines, philosophies, ideas, attributes and moralities of Jesus, rather than seeking Jesus. I want to be a man that knows Christ; not merely about Christ. I want to love God for Himself. Which leads to the next gem:
The Surety of His Love
“I am in Love, and out of it I will not go.”
The Great Divorce
I have come to realize that the wiliness of the flesh is such, that it would deceive the soul into thinking that true joy and delight is found in some temporal, earthly pleasure. When I realized the surety, the stability, the unchangeability of the One in Whom I rest, I began to realize the absurdity of looking for delight anywhere else! As the hymn says, “O ‘twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.
Living for Eternity
“If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”
The Great Divorce
Yes, another quote from “The Great Divorce.” As Jonathan Edwards so well stated, “Oh God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” Lewis taught me that if I am living for this earth, I will not see heaven. The pathway to joy is living for the world to come. Oh the power, glory and wonder of living for eternity’s joy!
The Ache for Him
“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Lucy’s tears have often become my own. When I read Narnia, Lewis’ other works, and even other godly authors the ache in my heart is not for the fantasy world of Narnia, it isn’t for the philosophical eloquence of these writings, the ache in my soul is to count all things loss and that I may win Christ (Phil. 3:8, 14)! All too often the flesh will be content with Narnia alone, the Spirit filled man yearns for Christ alone. Narnia has helped me know Christ, the true Lion, better. Thus, I can say with Lucy, it isn’t Narnia . . . it is the Lion Himself I ache for! Oh, to know Him!
The Best is Yet to Come
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
The Last Battle
Yes and Amen. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will someday soon be fully revealed. We are fools to chase after the trinkets of earth, when life in Christ Jesus offers unto us surpassing, ever-growing, eternal wonder, joy, pleasure and delight. Heaven will be sweet for the believing soul, because Christ is there; and is He not the sum of all beauty? The fragrance of all delight? The altogether lovely One? The chief among ten thousand? The fairest of the fair? More precious than silver?
And Still the Light Grew
One little phrase in “The Great Divorce” describes what ought to be taking place in the believer’s soul: “and still the light grew.” In Christ’s light, we see light (Ps. 36:9). The dawning of the Gospel-sun has come, shadows must flee, darkness must hide its face, death’s sting is removed, and Christ shall be the lamp of that heavenly city. Lewis faithfully allowed the light of the glory of God, as seen in the face of Christ, shine more and more in his life, work, and writing. May we too bask in the blazing brightness of the Gospel truth. Or, as Solomon’s bride declares: “I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go (Song 3:4).”
PS-I realized that May12, 2013 was the 50th anniversary of A.W. Tozer’s death. Thus, a tribute to him will be forthcoming!
Update: Here is the tribute to Tozer!