CS LEWIS died 50 years ago today. He is one of my favorite authors. He has shown me that the life of the mind and of faith are not incompatible—they complement each other. A Christian thinker and apologist, he was also a world-renowned professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature. He was a voracious reader, an excellent writer, and from what I've heard over the Internet, an engaging radio show host.
I read Mere Christianity in 2004. My friend Paul Balite gave it to me as a present. I could not grasp him at first—his sentences were short and crisp, but they were so packed with meaning that I had to pause and reread entire pages and sections again. Following his thought process humbled me—Jack, as he was fondly called, was a brilliant man. That he was a faithful Christian excited me even more; that he was seriously joyful about Christ made my heart explode in excitement.
I read The Chronicles of Narnia on the same year. I borrowed books from our church library. I could not finish the entire series all at once because I didn't want my fascination to end. I wanted to reserve the last book for the perfect time and had only finished it in 2012, when I was stationed in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. It was worth the wait.
I've read most of his works, but the most striking was Surprised by Joy, his autobiography. I even used it for my college yearbook creative shot in 2009.
In that book he wrote how, as a child and later on an adult, he became an atheist. He no longer believed in God and lost all faith in Him. But Christ was doing His supernatural work on his hardened heart. He gradually became a Christian in his 30's. He was longing for something that this world could not adequately provide: Joy.
"You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.... But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape."
And Jack found Joy in Christ who loved him and gave himself up for him (Galatians 2:20).
Almost every night, before I go to sleep, I think of and pray for some friends who have not known this Joy. They think Christianity is a set of rules to live by, a religion to be legalistic about. Some have rejected the idea of God entirely. But I think of God and how he has changed the unbelieving hearts and minds of people—of John Newton, of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, of CS Lewis—and I have hope that someday, my friends might come to a personal encounter with God and know Him as a friend and master. Nothing is impossible with Him.
If you have not known that Joy, then seriously consider CS Lewis' words which still reverberate 50 years after he had quietly died:
"Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in."