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Today, I'm sharing an excerpt from Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls. [c. 2003 M. Craig Barnes] It's one of my favorite passages, where Barnes refers to C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce to depict the journey to wholeness. I had to read over this a couple of times before it sunk in. The "ghosts" in the story represent man on his great journey to becoming solid in his identity in Christ.
Barnes writes: Lewis's story begins with a bus from hell that deposits ghosts at the base of the mountain. Walking up the mountain is hard on the ghosts' feet, but the more progress they make, the more real they become as Solid People and thus the easier the journey becomes for their feet.
Many of the ghosts don't make it because their attention is focused back on the hell they have created for themselves. Halfway through the journey this is explained. "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.' All who are in hell, choose it. Without self choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened." The way we seek is by turning our face away from the former things and toward the top of the mountain.
At one point in The Great Divorce, Lewis introduces us to a ghost who suffers from a terrible lizard that digs its claws into his shoulders and makes the most horrible judgements about him. The lizard hates this journey and wants the ghost to take them "home"--back to hell. An angel is waiting to kill it, but the ghost first has to agree to let go of the lizard. The thought of living without this thing that has wounded him for so long is acutally frightening to the ghost becasue he has learned to befriend his tormentor.
He tries to put off the decision but realizes that he is now at the point in the journey in which eternity depends on his choice. Although he is not at all clear about what will happen to him after the death of the lizard, he decides he's better off dead than alive with this creature. So the terrified ghost finally agrees to the death of the lizard. In a flash the angel slays it, allowing the ghost to become a man and transforming the lizard into a great white stallion that carries the man the rest of the way up the mountain to his home.
Lewis's most profound point is that it hurt the man to have the lizard killed because its claws were in so deeply. Penance hurts. Becoming a Solid Person hurts. Even turning from the lie that we belong in hell hurts. That's because we have taken the lies too deeply into our souls, and extracting them is painful. But it is also the only way that we are freed to turn our face toward our true home. Just because it hurts doesn't mean it won't lead to our salvation. And just because the road up the mountain leads home doesn't mean it is easy. [End excerpt]
What is God whispering to you in this passage? Whatever He says, please write it down. You'll need it next week for part 2.
Next Tuesday, we'll explore the differences between denial (man's way) and moving forward in truth as we "forget the former things" (God's way).
You are not alone,
Published on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:22 AM CDT