An excerpt from The Joyful Christian – Readings from C. S. Lewis

The question of Faith…arises after a man has tried his level best to practice the Christian virtues, and found that he fails, and seen that even if he could he would only be giving back to God what was already God’s own. In other words, he discovers his bankruptcy. Now, once again, what God cares about is not exactly our actions. What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind of quality–the kind of creatures He intended us to be–creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add “and related to one another in a certain way” because that is included: if you are right with Him, you will inevitably be right with all your fellow creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim, they are bound to be in the right positions to one another. And as long as a man is thinking of God as an Examiner who has set a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain–as long as he is thinking of claims and counterclaims between himself and God–he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy.

When I say “discovered”, I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion. Of course, any child, if given a certain kind of religious education, will soon learn to say that we have nothing to offer God that is not already His own and that we find ourselves failing to offer even that without keeping something back. But I am talking of really discovering this: really finding out by experience that it is true.

Now we cannot, in that sense discover our failure to keep God’s law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that, if we try harder next time, we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say “You must do this. I can’t.” Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, “Have I reached that moment?” Do not sit down and start watching your own mind to see if it is coming along. That puts a man quite on the wrong track. When the most important things in our life happen, we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, “Hullo! I’m growing up.” You can see it even in simple matters. A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake. As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to everyone in a sudden flash–as it did to St. Paul or Bunyan: it may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.

So perhaps we need to get to the point of Surrender.

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6 Responses to “Faith”

  1. L.T. Elliot January 10, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    >Timely post. I'm in that state right now and am leaping in, trusting that God will be with me while I act.

  2. Janet Oberholtzer January 10, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    >Good stuff … I like C.S. Lewis. A lot of his writings make me think hard to get them – and I wasn't ready to think hard this early on this cold (10F) morning, so I almost skipped it, but then decided I should read it and I'm glad I did!

  3. Terra January 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    >You are quoting my favorite author, and this is a very wise post. I call C.S. Lewis my Christian mentor.
    The story of his conversion is very moving, he admits he fought long and hard against becoming a Christian, and when he finally was captured by God's love, he "surrendered".
    One word picture he paints is of when he was riding in a motorcycle sidecar with his brother driving, which is part of the conversion experience for him.

  4. Corinne January 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    >I haven't read much of C.S. Lewis, but have been meaning to for quite a while (off to write on my list of must reads before I forget…)
    Thanks you!

  5. BeckeyZ January 11, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    >You know…I listed you under "blogs that crack me up" on my blogroll…but if you keep posting such awesome thought provoking entries, I may have to move your blog over to "blogs that feed my soul". Ahhh heck, maybe I should just put you on both lists.

    Love ya!

  6. ♥ Kathy January 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    >I like that

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