This summer I am taking a few easy classes to get some extra credit hours in before the fall semester slams me with more school assignments than I care to partake of. The class I am in right now is about the works of C.S. Lewis. The man is absolutely fascinating.
The presents of C.S. Lewis’ writings have always been a part of my life. Growing up, The Chronicles of Narnia influenced the imagination of my childhood. For hours I would sit and read or listen to these tales. To this day, I believe they helped set a foundation to my current outlook on God and the characteristics I see in Him. As an adult, his works such as The Screwtape Letters and The Problem of Pain have cast tremendous light on my own spiritual beliefs. They both answer tough questions about who God is and why we go through certain life experiences.
Lewis’ depth and perception never cease to blow my mind. The main question that stands at attention is how could someone who so staunchly hated anything to do with God become such an advocate for the cause of Christ? That is where his autobiography Surprised by Joy comes into play.
In this autobiography, he writes about that elusive longing, that bittersweet, wondrous feeling caused by standing on a ridge gazing across a windswept field to purple, misty mountains far in the distance. He terms this longing, “joy.” Lewis models for us how the past can be explored in a way that helps us understand how the Lord was powerfully at work. Even as Lewis shared the various stages of sin in his life—vulgarity to materialism to sexuality—there was not a hiding from it, but a bold recognition of who he was without God. Through the various stages of life, his desire for joy could not be satisfied until he finally bowed his knee to Christ, and when he found Christ his entire life took, including his past, on a heightened meaning.
I never knew all this about him. It casts a whole new perspective to his other works and enriches them with a deeper, passionate meaning. For instance the level of sincerity grows as I re-read The Problem of Pain and think about the suffering Lewis went through as a child. The subject and reasoning becomes far more intense know that Lewis went through a significant about of emotional pain and suffering.
God not only got a firm grip on this man who was living an abominable life, but he helped Lewis capture an understanding for His heart. This is where I find the greatest challenge and assurance. Looking at my own life and the miry pit God raised me from, it blesses me to know that God uses some of the most broken people of this world to exult Himself. This is seen all throughout the Bible, and Lewis is a perfect “modern day” example.