Made For Another World: The Gift of C.S. Lewis
If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The room was decorated beachy, with shells and paintings of blue and white. The twin beds were draped in coastal-themed comforters. The night stand was ordinary wood and on it sat a lamp. There were no windows in the room, just sheetrock and décor and light from the lamp.
It was in this room in a condo Gulf Shores, Alabama that I opened Mere Christianity – and my life will never be the same. The room was ordinary, windowless, but the light that shone was brilliant and penetrating. It was the light of truth.
I think a lot but I’m no intellectual. I never was and never will be. At the time in which I met Lewis’ writing I was a college student, which is to say I was unaware of the real world. I was self-indulgent and my perspective was small. Nothing extraordinary for a young man, I reckon.
Having grown up in excellent, orthodox churches, I had met God somewhere along the way. I know not when. I just don’t remember not knowing him. Even as a child the Lord was scary close. I remember once I was awaken from sleep in a sweat, my conscience seared by the need to confess some vandalism I had committed. I walked through the dark to my parents’ room, woke them, and told them. My parents are, and always have been, gracious and loving. There was no fear of them. I knew then that my sin was a grievous offense and that I was compelled by God himself to confess what I had done. This was young repentance, an acknowledgement of my transgression and a turning from it towards confession and grace. I tasted grace.
So as I opened the paper cover of Mere Christianity, I opened it as a believer. I knew Jesus and I needed no convincing. I was just immature and young, my mind fresh and unseasoned. I was ripe for the harvest.
As I walked into the mind of Lewis in the book, my mind exploded. Lewis was so bright, yet approachable. He was so clever, yet dead serious. I had to read pages over and over because the insights washed over each other like the waves nearby. When you read something life-changingly profound it is very hard to read the next sentence without hanging on the previous wisdom. So it was messy reading for me and I struggled through it with exuberant joy.
My heart was engaged and my mind was overloaded. As Lewis quipped and argued and opened pathways to wonder, I changed. I saw through a door I did not know existed, a door to rational Christian thought combined with imagination and love. It was orthodoxy, but not in the way of repeating liturgy over and over because it’s true. It was fresh orthodoxy, new truths about God that I had not imagined. I couldn’t have imagined them.
C.S. Lewis died November 22, 1963, along with John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. He was 64. I am one of his many admirers. There is so much to say about Lewis, but for me I can say he ignited my soul through his writings. Or, more accurately, God ignited my soul through Lewis’ writings.
I don’t know how we meet others in heaven, but I dream of meeting Lewis in a dark pub on side street somewhere. I would love to buy him a pint, shake his hand, and maybe he can blow my mind some more.
Thank you, Lord, for the mind of C.S. Lewis.