Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dear C.S. Lewis

If I could meet and spend a few hours with an author, I honestly don't know how I would choose. Beth Moore, Oswald Chambers, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Ree Drummond....yes, I'd love to say "hello" to them all. But after taking an entire class on his works, I'd love to meet C.S. Lewis and spend time with him.

Regardless of what my professor says, I see analogy in most of Lewis' writings. God and the things of God are intertwined into the stories and mythical tales. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, Beyond the Silent Planet, Till We Have Faces.....and my most recent read: The Great Divorce.

Oh, the lessons I have learned from Lewis. His book Mere Christianity is now one of my all-time favorite reads. But after reading The Great Divorce I realized something so amazing that I had to take time out this morning and share.

Lewis tells the story of a group of people who wake up to find themselves in a type of purgatory. There they meet various ghosts with differing faults. As readers, we easily find those with whom we closely identify. One of the ghosts walked through the land with a lizard on his shoulder. The lizard whispered things in the man's ear and refused to leave the tormented soul alone. An angel with sword drawn approached the man, telling him that the lizard could be killed and therefore silenced. The man explained that he allowed the lizard to accompany him into the land if the creature could keep quiet, which failed.

The angel offered to kill the creature. The man agreed then backtracked crying that he didn't want to be burned by the flaming sword. He tried to move away and say that there was time to kill it later--that it was sleeping of its own accord and wouldn't give any more trouble.

The angel asked to kill it.

The man gave more excuse.

The angel tried again and the creature began to bite and torment the man.

The ghost cried out to the angel, "Why, you're hurting me now."

The angel told him, "I never said it wouldn't hurt you. I said it wouldn't kill you."

The demon lizard begins to chatter and says to the man: "Be Careful...he can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you'll be without me for ever and ever. It' not natural. How could you live? You'd be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn't understand. He's only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn't for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren't they better than nothing? And I'll be so good. I admit I've sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won't do it again. I'll give you nothing by really nice dreams--all sweet and fresh and almost innocent......."

Finally the angel convinces the man to allow him to kill the demon. When he does the lizard lies on the ground--but he doesn't go away. Instead he begins to change shape and grow. He grows into a white stallion with golden mane and tale. The ghost also begins to change. He no longer remains a man but begins to grow brighter and bigger until he is a soldier. The man is able to then mount the stallion and ride away.

I can't do the story justice here...you'd just have to read it in chapter 11 of The Great Divorce, however, my point remains the same....

just like this man with the demon on his shoulder, so often we as Christians carry around that sin that we just can't seem to release. We want it gone, but we can't allow Christ to remove it because it will be painful--it has become too much a part of our being to be easily and painlessly removed. But there He stands--the redeeming Angel--asking to remove it because he loves us.

I know in my life it can take a while before I throw up my hands in frustration. Oh, that wretched sin has been there whispering in my ear "I'm not that bad. I've gone too far in the past, but I'll be good now. See? I'll sleep and you don't have to remove me. We've gone too far together....I can't be fully removed!"

But praise be to Jesus that the whispers in my ear are LIES. He can remove the sin--and stands ready to do it. I just have to say, "Yes, Lord. Save me from myself."

In doing so the sin is cut to the ground. But I love what happens next. The sin doesn't disappear. It can't....we will never forget the sin that once lied in our ears. Instead Jesus makes the sin into something else--something that He can use for His glory. He makes it into the stallion that carries us to do His will--part of our testimony. The removal of sin makes us into soldiers, glowing and ready for combat in His name, bearing His mark.

But what would have happened to that man if he had not allowed the angel to remove the lying lizard? He would have been stuck--forever listening to the lies told him. The sin would have been his god and the driving force of his life.

What about us? Are there whispering lizards in our ears? Are we believing lies that our sin tells us because we are afraid of the pain that will ensue if we allow Christ to cut it away? We can't be warriors and we can't be healed until He completely cuts away the sin. We can have NO TRACE of that lizard in our lives. It will bite and scratch and strive to hold on to us, but Jesus cuts it completely away and makes us into something better. Yes, it hurts. Sin hurts. But He promised to be Jehovah Rapha..."God is my healer"...and bind the wounds of sin.

My God is good. He is faithful. And He wants to heal me of sin.

Something I'll be chewing on all day....

Because He lives,

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