I read an autobiographical account by CS Lewis in college in which he recounted his journey from atheist to agnostic to Christian. The twists and turns of his journey were fascinating to me. I gained much insight into my own journey and how God works in the hearts of people who are inclined to follow the prompts.
His journey was like mine in some respects and much different in others. Just as I see how uniquely tailored and personal those prompts were for me, they were just as uniquely tailored for CS Lewis.
The God revealed in the Bible is a Person, and He is personal. He made us in His image. He made us to have relationship with Him. He relates to us as no one can. He knows our innermost being. I have found all these things to be true to my own experience.
After CS Lewis conceded the intellectual point that the universe was more likely created by a Causal Agent than not, he began to sort through the various possibilities for what that Causal Agent could be. Searching out the various world religions, he found that one stood out. One was not dependent on man’s own capacity to know or to understand. All other religions required special knowledge, understanding, and effort to achieve a connection with that Causal Agent.
He reasoned that a loving God who is just and fair would not foreclose a connection to those who are born without the intellectual capacity to understand or know what is required of them. Such a God would have to be accessible by all people, regardless of capacity. The complexities of religion did not seem appropriate to Lewis as he contemplated these things.
And then it dawned on him that only one religion was completely accessible to all people regardless of capacity. Jesus said all we have to do is believe. He also said that our main obstacle to gaining connection with God, the Father, is our own pride and self-control. What could be more antithetical to pride and self-control than humbly submitting to God in faith and trust?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Faith, putting trust in God, is the ultimate antidote to the problems of pride, self-centeredness, selfishness, jealousy, anger, and all the issues that plague men. These are also the things that stand in our way of gaining connection with God by simple faith. They have to be put aside.
Jesus put it this way, “[M]any who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:30) Jesus sharply criticized the religious leaders of his day for “load[ing] people down with burdens they can hardly carry” themselves (Luke 11:46); while the religious leaders practiced a pompous piety designed for people to see. (Matthew 23:5)
Although people who call themselves Christians often get this wrong themselves, we gain connection with God not by anything that we can do or anything that we can know or understand better than the next person. We gain connection with God by simple faith and trust. “[W]hoever believes has eternal life.” (John 3:15; see also Mark 16:16; John 1:12; 3:15; 5:24; 6:24; Acts 10:43; 13:39; Romans 10:9; Hebrews 4:3; and 1 Peter 1:9)
For CS Lewis, this was a key that began to unlock the mystery for his agnostic mind. No other religion reveals a God who is as accessible to people of all capacities than the God who is revealed to us by Jesus Christ. Lewis recognized the pride in his own heart and knew well the power of it to disconnect himself from other people. That same pride disconnects us from knowing God in a personal, intimate sense. The only antidote, he realized, is simple trust in God.
These are the things I think about as I read the following piece that was passed on to me by someone very close to me. It has the crystal clear ring of truth.
GOD LIVES UNDER THE BED I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least, that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen. 'Are you there, God?', he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...' I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in. He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them. I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores. And Saturdays – Oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met. He never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never happier than when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun and he does not leave a job until it is finished. When his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to God, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God is his closest companion. In my moments of doubt and frustrations, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances – they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all!