As I think of C.S. Lewis, quotes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Weight of Glory immediately spring to my mind. These I share with you.
The following three quotes speak of the tension we are invited to live in as Christians but often fail to do so, namely, the tension between the twin realities of God’s transcendence (God beyond us – wholly other) and God’s immanence (God with us). Lewis communicates a God who inspires knee wobbling fear (reverence, awe-fullness), whose ways are not our ways (wild) but who is good (loving, wise, gracious, merciful) and even playful (God as friend).
“Is he-quite safe? I still feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”
“He is wild you know. Not like a tame lion.”
“Oh, children,” said the Lion, “I feel my strength coming back to me. Oh, children, catch me if you can!” He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made a high leap over their heads and landed on the other side of the table. Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hilltop he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur, arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.
I absolutely love this last line that speaks of Lucy uncertainty of having played with a thunderstorm or a kitten – that is our God: transcendent yet immanent.
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
In the above quote C.S. Lewis challenges the level of our desire for God and the things of God implying that most of us are very content with something much, much less than God has in mind for us. This passage speaks to me regarding my tendency to stuff myself with the cotton candy pleasures/distractions of this world and then have no appetite nor desire for the marvelous banquet God has for me.
Do you tend to see God more as a “kitten” or a “thunderstorm?” What is lost in overemphasizing one over the other? What are the benefits of holding on to both the immanence of God (kitten) and the transcendence of God (thunderstorm)?
What is the level of your desire for God? What are the mud pies that you are content making that hinder you from entering into all God has for you?
Larry Warner is founder and president of b, a spiritual formation ministry working with pastors, missionaries, seminarians, and churches; he is a retreat leader and spiritual director; he teaches at a number of seminaries and is a consultant for churches. He is author of Journey with Jesus: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. He has been married for thirty-five years and has four children and three grandchildren.