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Posts Tagged ‘C. S. Lewis’

There’s this song I’ve always loved by PFR that says, “I never want to be satisfied…”  And the song is really speaking about being stagnant and not growing.  So the more I think about it these days, the more I think the wording of the oft repeated line is off.  It shouldn’t be “I never want to be satisfied” but rather “I never want to be complacent.”

Because never being satisfied is bad.

Yes, we are told in the scriptures to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to strive to enter the narrow door and to strive together for the faith… But we are also told that Jesus is the bread of life and the living water and that no one who drinks the living water He gives will be thirsty again.  And we are told that we are to “cease striving” and know that God is God!

There is a place to yearn for God like the deer yearns for water and we certainly do not want to become complacent.  But we must also learn contentment.  To be content in God and with God.

One of the main themes that really struck me when reading C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra was the issue of contentment.  He hints at, suggests and alludes several times throughout the book that our being discontent is a result of sin.  Since sin entered the world, we seem to have these voracious appetites.  And I am not simply referring to an appetite for food.

But let’s start there.  Why can we not be content with a simple, single serving of something really delicious – like ice cream.  Why are we not satisfied with it?  Why must we always go back for more and more?  Watch people – or watch yourself – at a buffet.  The tendency is to eat more because it tastes so good – not because we need it, but because we simply think we must have more.

The same holds true for material possessions, for love, for attention, for achievement, for success, for praise… the list goes on.  After reading Lewis, I’ve begun to think that our materialistic society is not causing us to be unsatisfied and discontent so much as it is simply the end result (and also reinforcing) this sinful tendency we already have!

In reading a vastly different book this evening, another picture came to mind.  Perhaps because writing this blog on Lewis and contentment was on my mind.  Or because Lewis did have a fascinating book on what hell might be like.  Or because this new author was already referring to hungering for God and having unsatisfied (his term was roving) appetites.  In speaking of these things, this author used the illustration of a tape worm.  He had a friend who kept eating and eating but was losing weight.  Truth is, the friend could have “starved” to death while eating all the time!

But it was the word “worm” that struck the chord and brought all those notes together into a new melody for me.  Jesus referred to hell as a place where the worm does not die.  Now I’m fairly sure he was not referring to tapeworms, but doesn’t it make a good illustration?  Correlation?  Where the worm never dies? You can eat and eat and eat but never be satisfied.  Our sinful state is like a tapeworm that never allows us to be satisfied…

Just now BarlowGirl’s “Psalm 73” song came on and even as I type I can hear them singing over and over, “My God’s enough for me.”

Isn’t that the truth?  God is all we need.  God provides all we need.  We should be content in Him.

I think in part we, being sinful, are naturally prone to being discontented.  To having that tapeworm.  But, praise be to God, his sacrifice on the cross means that the chains can be broken and that sinful nature does not need to have control!  The tapeworm can be removed!

But, creatures of habit that we are, it takes us awhile to unlearn the voracious hunger that will not be satisfied.  We must learn to be content in God.

Because our God is enough.

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Because this was one of the most profound dreams that I have ever had (and it has stuck vividly with me over the past 8 years) and because I actually reference it often, I thought I would write it out here.  (The bulk of this was taken from a MySpace blog that I wrote in 2005, though I have filled in the rest of the dream somewhat.)

In the spring of 2002, I had a dream I will never forget. It was a wondrous dream, stemming out of books I’d been reading (‘Great Divorce’ by CS Lewis and ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ by John Bunyon) and an intense passion for holiness and purity and serving God that stemmed out of my internship with AIM the fall before, the New Testament class I was taking with Dr. Fairchild and even recent conversations I’d been having with friends.

And in the dream I came to a great and wide river. It was a turbulent river and on the other side was God’s country (as best as I can define what I understood in my dream). I was not alone, there were others who stood beside me.  And though it wasn’t in the dream (or I simply don’t remember it), we had all been on this journey together.  And when we had at last come to the border of God’s country, there was this river. And I knew we had to cross it. But the river was a river of fire. Everyone hesitated. But something drew me on. I knew I had to trust God that it was okay for me to cross. So I went right in.

And I remember that the river burned, the pain was real and yet somewhat distant as though a memory after the fact. It hurt, but it did not kill. I was not sure how long I was in the river, but I came to the other side. And when I did I was surprised to see that the heavy backpack which I had carried upon my back was now empty. All the weight had burned away. I felt light and clean and pure…
In fact, I woke still feeling light and clean and pure.  And that feeling lasted almost all day long.  I have had nightmares which I can’t seem to shake for  hours or days.  But this – this was wonderful and I would not have wanted to “shake it” even had I been able to….

It was actually a two part dream.  The second part was rather weird (and perhaps somewhat heretical) and involved God’s country having (or being) a cafe with high tables and in the center of the tables were miniature Hershey bars.  And they had to be small because even just a little taste was so pure and so real chocolate that you could hardly stand it.  It was marvelous! And God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (in body – hence a bit of tritheism there) were serving us in this cafe.  And I, like Peter, didn’t feel that was right.  I should be the one serving, I kept thinking… and so that second part of my dream was bizarre and it has had its own meanings and implications in my life.

But the river of fire has stuck with me.  Though more faded than I’d like, the memory of it is almost still tangible.  As though even now I can somehow remember the feel of the burning and of feeling so clean and pure.  And this dream has resurfaced over the years in a myriad of ways.  And I suspect God will continue to bring it to mind as He continues to work in my life…

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