In CS Lewis’ fictional masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, Lewis crafts a story about a seasoned demon named Uncle Screwtape who is guiding his nephew Wormwood in the ways required to keep a human away from intimacy with a Holy God. I read this a couple of years ago on a whim and was surprised to find that I loved it. It is classic Lewis – helping us to see through these fictional letters how we, believers in a loving God, get in our own way when it comes to living out our love stories in the world. There are countless quotes from that book that I could share and write about but I personally love this one from one of Uncle Screwtape’s letters to his demon-in-training nephew:
“When [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”
This has been a theme that’s come up over the past year or two for me – the fact that following the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, makes us more human; more ourselves. I’m finding this to be true and it looks so much different than I would have originally thought. This following of God has not made me any more successful financially or physically. In fact, having a child and making the spirit led choice to be her primary caretaker at home has understandably done the opposite to both my body and our pocketbook!
But even in spite of those realities, I’m finding my way towards an inner peace and joy that I had not considered possible over the past 15 years. Oswald Chambers put it this way the other day:
“[Becoming human] is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God… We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises— human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, [living and loving as a beloved child of God]. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God— but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people…this is not learned in five minutes.”
I’ve paraphrased Chamber’s words slightly here for clarity’s sake as he’s a bit Puritan at times. My favorite part is his gracious final sentence: “This is not learned in five minutes.” Ha! How true that is. I definitely feel like I am stumbling forward most days.
So for my own sake, and for you all, my readers, I’m considering a short series of posts entitled “Becoming Human.” These will be short posts about how a journey in partnership with God brings out the real Courtney, or the real insert your name here. I’m not entirely sure where this will go but I look forward to what we’ll discover together. I do think it will look a lot like a slow, perhaps at times difficult, but ultimately joyful path towards humble reliance on a God who knows us better than we know ourselves.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7