02 August 2016

Complete and Ecstatic Happiness

C. S. Lewis, in a 1933 letter to his friend Arthur Greeves, with a compelling re-orientation to overcoming sin. 
God not only understands but shares the desire which is at the root of all my evil—the desire for complete and ecstatic happiness. He made me for no other purpose than to enjoy it. But He knows, and I do not, how such happiness can be really and permanently attained. He knows that most of my personal attempts to reach it are actually putting it further and further out of my reach.

I may always feel looking back on any past sin that in the very heart of my evil passion there was something that God approves and wants me to feel not less but more. Take the sin of lust. The overwhelming thirst for rapture was good and even divine: that part of lust need not be rejected. But it will never be quenched as I tried to quench it. If I refrain—if I submit to the collar and come round the right side of the lamp-post—God will be guiding me as quickly as He can to where I will get what I really wanted all the time.

When we are tempted, we must remember that just because God wants for us what we really want and knows the only way to get it, therefore He must, in a sense, be quite ruthless towards sin. He is not like a human authority who can be begged off or caught in an indulgent mood. The more He loves you the more determined He must be to pull you back from your way which leads nowhere into His way which leads where you want to go.

I think we may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion (it raises its head in every temptation) that there is something else than God—some other country into which He forbids us to trespass—some kind of delight which He “doesn’t appreciate” or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as He can, or else a false picture of what He is trying to give us—a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing.

No comments: