November 29, 2010

The Screwtape Letters

This is almost it, folks.  Tomorrow's post will round out a month of daily posts.  Wow, it went by fast.  Tomorrow we'll also reveal the winners of the Sally Clarkson book giveaway ... last chance to throw your name into the ring!

Since I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis this month, I want to share a couple of passages that have stuck with me.  This is one marvelous book!  It's fiction, but bursting with rich Biblical themes.  Adjusting to the perspective can take a couple of chapters, e.g. "The Enemy" is God since it's an exchange between demons, but it doesn't take long to get into the story.  What an amazing reminder that there are powers at work that we don't see but are part of reality, whether we're giving them any attention or not!

It seems one cannot go wrong reading a work by Lewis.  What a gift God gave to the world in C.S. Lewis; I'm so glad He called him to be His own!


Okay, on with the show.  Two of my favorite passages concern the topics of suffering/trials and dying to self.

On Suffering/Trials: (p. 45-46)
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite.  Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.  The reason is this.  to us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense.  But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing.  One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth.  He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself - creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.  We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons.  We want to suck in, He wants to give out.  We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over.  Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united with Himself but still distinct.

On Dying to Self: (p. 68)
Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way.  Remember always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them.  When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means 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.

The latter quote I have found to be quite true in my own life; though I never could have expressed it so eloquently.  God has taken this people-pleasing woman and turned her away from manipulation and self-aggrandizement to service for the joy of serving and loving God and others.  Things I used to do because I felt I had to in order to get my way or look good, I now do because I want to.  Only God can do that - free us from what binds us and then hand it back to us, repackaged to bring us delight, because He created us in specific ways, with specific purposes in mind.

I could quote so many more paragraphs from The Screwtape Letters.  Instead, I"ll leave you to pull the book off the library or bookstore shelf!

1 comment:

  1. i've always been timid of reading the screwtape letters, but you're tempting me...

    also, not sure you noticed but i want to be added to the give away...either of the first two books would be a interesting :)