So the other day, after using a quote from CS Lewis's Weight of Glory, I did the only natural thing--I reread it. And I remembered why it is my alltime favorite short essay of Lewis'. Just so you know, I count Jack Lewis (as his friends and family called him) my hero. In college, I bought/read/reread everything he ever wrote, and all the biographies I could get my hands on. I have practically an entire bookcase dedicated to his works alone. To say that he was influential on my life so undervalues that influence I should hardly say it. (Beve, by the way, has his own dead hero, who, coincidentally died on exactly the same day as Lewis (and JFK, actually), AW Tozer, who is quite remarkable in his own right.)
The book of essays entitled Weight of Glory is one I got from a library sale when I was in college in Eugene, Oregon. It still has the stamp from Northwest Christian College inside the front cover. I read it first sitting in the stacks of that small college library. That Christmas I'd received a CS LEwis calendar, with quotes on every page, and I discovered this little gem:
"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit--immortal horrors and everlasting splendours."
The first time I read these words, sitting on the old lineoleum of in a back corner of that dark library, it was like scales fell from my eyes and every person I met took on greater value. Those boys I had crushes on, as well as those who stood too close and put their hands on my shoulders, making me shudder. The girl whose high-pitched laugh grated on my nerves as well as the ones whom I shared all my confidences with. Immortal. All of them, one way or another. I know, probably most of you already had this figured out by college, but it was a revelation to me, and changed how I treated others. And, not inconsequential, it changed how I looked at our land of the free and home of the brave. This nation is not the be all and end all of life, it is not even the be all of this world. Every superpower, every civilization someday passes away--from Mesopotamia to the US. And to give my allegiance to such temporary things was short-sighted of me.
And it made me find this book of essays that I'd never read before. And I have to tell you, Lewis has the very ring of truth here. The idea that it is good and proper to desire the approval of our Heavenly Father, that such approval is the natural result of growing up in Christ, this flew in the face of what I'd previously considered humility. And then this phrase, "To please God" touched the core of my longing. And touched me again the other night. Just think--we can please God. Really, the God of the universe, the one who set stars into space, can be, indeed is pleased by us--this is the most breath-taking idea. Isn't it? As Lewis says, "It is a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain."
But it's true. We are the apple of His eye, the Psalmist says (more than once, actually!). We are the fixed--everlasting--object of His affection. Enough that Christmas happened, enough that Good Friday and Easter.
So this day, as we look ahead to another year of walking with Him, as we look forward to another year of loving those He loved, or--in the hardest cases--asking His Spirit to love those whom we find difficult to love, let us make it our goal to please Him. Let us say to Him, as the firstborn of all Creation asked Him, "Glorify Yourself in me, Father." Don't simply be glorified in me, but Glorify Yourself in me. Let all that I do aim toward that--to allow His glory to shine through. May we always point toward the bullseye that is His pleasure.
If you have never read this essay, do yourself a favor--get your hands on it.