Thursday, February 10, 2011

C.S. Lewis

I'm working my way through a great book: C.S. Lewis Readings for Meditation and Reflection

Thought it might be neat to blog about it as I go...would LOVE your thoughts and comments!

The Intolerable Compliment

“When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a love, in fact marshall us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.“ --The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3, C.S. Lewis

There are a lot of things that I have begged God for that He has not given me. I desperately wanted to marry my college sweetheart; even before we dated I wanted to marry him. I wanted my son to sleep all night those first few months he was around. I can remember standing over his crib while he cried; begging God to just let him sleep…which I knew even then was really asking God to just let ME sleep. I thought—why? Why wouldn’t the Lord want us to sleep? I cried out for the healing of many people that died. I remember distinctly my cousin’s wife who was in a coma just three months after her twin boys were born. I prayed fervently and believing that her healing would come. I just KNEW that she would be okay, that their family would be okay. She died about 9 months after the coma began, just around her twins first birthday.

That’s the one that changed the way I prayed. I don’t know if I’ve ever prayed believing that way since K died. I wasn’t close with her, I’m not even close with my cousin her husband. Not the way I am with other family and friends. But for some reason I was sure that she would be healed. I was confident, maybe even to the point of arrogant, in my God. I had it figured out, she would be healed and all in my family must acknowledge God’s hand in our lives. Why wouldn’t he want that for us, for her, for my cousin and their boys.

I’m learning, not I have learned but am learning, to ask of God again. It’s not that I stopped praying that day, I just started praying for easy things. And always praying for God’s will…”Thy will be done” “align my will with yours” The underlying tone being, align my will with yours so I won’t be disappointed. C.S. Lewis’ incredible examination of what it means to be disappointed reminds me. Aligning our will with God’s is not about avoiding pain or disappointment. It is about acknowledging the Rightness of the one True and Holy God. That God is God, and we are not. That just as our parents begged us to believe that they knew what was best for us…yet…God does not beg us to believe Him. He does in fact know better than me.

“He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the wall of his cell…Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.” --The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3, C.S. Lewis

I’m glad that I didn’t marry my college sweetheart. My husband is much more than I ever could ask for. I’m glad (believe it or not) that I spent so many sleepless nights with my son. I even find myself missing them…sometimes. I am not glad that my friends and family were not healed. But, I think that’s okay. Because I am learning to pray again, and to trust Him and His will. Asking for big things in spite of the unknown result is about being in relationship with the God of the universe. Letting Him in to the longings of my heart and being honest with Him (and myself) lays the groundwork for a deeper commitment and understanding of how He loves….and how I want to trust.


  1. Beth,

    This is my favorite post so far. How moving, touching -- truly to the point of *tears*. Thank you for being such a silent encouragement to me here at the end of this day.

    You are one gifted lady, Beth. What an example to me that you are using your talents for the Lord!


  2. Thanks Ashlie; I actually thought of you guys when I was posting this. I'm relieved it was an encouragement to you. Prayers to you and your family!