I have loved the writings of C.S. Lewis ever since I read Mere Christianity in my first year of Bible college. Granted, it took me about 2 months to finish it because, let’s be real, C.S. Lewis arranges sentences, and expresses ideas I couldn’t even fathom thinking up.
I first read A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis after losing my grandmother at 18 years old, the day of my high school graduation. Although the circumstances of our losses were different, (C.S. Lewis’ wife died of cancer after only a few years of marriage), I so identified with the struggles he so brilliantly expresses. This week, nearly 12 years later, I found myself picking up this book again, due to a homework assignment for one of my classes. I came across the following excerpt that stopped me in my tracks:
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? …Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
We observe as C.S. Lewis discovers that the depth of pain he was experiencing became the litmus test for what he really believed about God, His goodness, His existence, and his own faith.
How often do we revolt against the proving, refining, and testing of what we claim to believe?
We begin on this journey confessing our faith in God, His plan, and His intention in our life; and rightly so. However, God is in the business of convincing us, often through painful circumstances, of the things we have already claimed to believe. This “convincing” comes to us in rough packaging, making it difficult to discern the treasures that lie within. However, if we accept the packaging (i.e. the circumstances) as they come to us, than we avail ourselves to the treasures of faith, strength, love, revelation, communion, and so many others.
God wants us to “own” everything we claim to believe. And ownership comes through battling it out with God when the testing comes. We see this play out with Jacob at the Jabbok River in Genesis 32:22-28.
“Jacob was left all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, ‘let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ ‘What is your name?’ the man asked. He replied, ‘Jacob.’ ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
The pain of being “left all alone” was Jacob’s opportunity to battle through what he thought he knew, and believed, into possessing what he NOW knows and believes. Jacob wasn’t willing to let go until he owned the blessing.
When you find yourself in the “thick of it”, so to speak, don’t let go. God is waiting to bless you and He wants you to battle it out with Him, so that He can also say to you, “because you have fought with God and with men, you have won.”
Well, only you’ll know, and there is much to win, but what I can say is, what you “win” in the battle can NEVER be taken from you.