Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part One


The truth that compelled me to journey from atheism to faith also had a profound impact on my spiritual mentor C.S. Lewis.  Here, in three parts, is my story.

Few have brought so much baggage along on their journey of faith—my carry-on was way over the weight limit—as I had when I got down on my knees in the dark and declared my dependence upon God in the bicentennial year 1976.  I simply had no choice; the Hound of Heaven had tracked me down and cornered me in my little cinderblock study. I had no idea that nearly fifty years earlier a reticent Oxford don named C. S. Lewis, known to his friends as “Jack,” had made the same begrudging journey from atheism to deism to Christ:

“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 a 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.” (Surprised by Joy)  cs-lewis

Why did I surrender? Why did Jack? We did so because there was a hunger in us that nothing else could satisfy. A year or so before, I had begun to reluctantly admit my desire for God, but continued to struggle with the conviction that it was not enough to merely want Him. Believing in Him had to make sense—clean, empirical sense—and at this point it did not. I still considered the religious impulse, as Freud argued, a universal neurosis (though, in truth, the riggings of religion have never held any appeal for me; it’s God I want).

“Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door we have always seen from the outside, is not mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation.” (The Weight of Glory)

My hunger for God didn’t become apparent until…well, I could gloss over the circumstances, but the truth is that it came while I was literally sleeping with my backslidden Christian girlfriend, Katherine.

I don’t recall if I was dreaming, but I suddenly sat up, and said, in a voice that belonged to the Hound, not me, “Come unto me.” I said it twice, and then just sat there, thinking, What the ——? I had a vague idea that it sounded “like something from the Bible.” I’d never actually read the Bible. Though I had slept through The Greatest Story Ever Told in Cinemascope.

Kat sat up, blinking, and stared at me, then quietly and authoritatively said, “Whoa. God is after you.” And so it began. Or from God’s perspective, I suppose, continued.

looking+to+GodThat was when I became truly conscious of my desire for God. Kat left shortly thereafter. But the hunger for God didn’t. In fact, it grew. I spent more than a few nights standing in the dark, shouting, “Look, if You’re there, could you just cough or something?” I swore I’d follow Him forever if He’d just prove His presence.

No cough. Not even a slight clearing of the throat.

And so I began to think of the longing for God as a hunger for a flavor that didn’t exist.

To read Part Two, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part One

  1. Karen L Greene says:

    Wow! Don’t leave me hanging, I want to turn the page and read on.
    I love the way truth spills from your heart to the ink.
    Waiting for part 2


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill Strickler says:

    I echo Karen’s sentiments. I am heading to read part 2 now.

    Liked by 1 person

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  14. Linnie says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >Why I Believe: C.S.

    Lewis and Me – Part One | Mitch Teemley <Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. The spiritual path is what i consider to be very important for attaining peace in life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. All of us, in our life at some point of time get inspired by some great thought of a great person, and this is true for all of us. In your case it’s C.S. Lewis whose thoughts have influenced you.
    Thank you for sharing the link to this post on my article. It’s because that link i discovered this article. And i hope my reader’s will also see this great post. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    84 years ago, former atheist C. S. Lewis converted to Christianity. 45 years I later, I followed in his footsteps. Thank you, Jack!


  24. Erika Kind says:

    The journey begins. It is so interesting to learn about the many different stories we connected or finally heard God’s voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Powerful stuff Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Warren Pace says:

    Thank you for continuing to read and follow, I am glad I found this post of yours. I love the last line in part 1! You’ve encouraged me, and I need it. I can’t seem to get many readers…

    Liked by 1 person

  27. mitchteemley says:

    Warren, is it a WordPress blog? I notice when I click on your name it takes me to your Facebook page. Also, how long have you had your blog?


  28. kerbey says:

    Good description of the God-shaped hole inside of us, that yearning to reunite with our Creator and Father.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Lewis, my hero. This is just WONDERFUL. I’ve said I was the most reluctant convert in all of NYC.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. It is amazing how God continues to tug to our hearts even when we seem to be so lost. He truly is the Good Shepard!

    I really like what you wrote: “We did so because there was a hunger in us that nothing else could satisfy”.

    That line completely reminded me of what St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions:

    “Oh Lord, You have made us for yourself and our heart are restless until they rest on you”.

    Liked by 1 person

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  39. Wow, you were where thinking, perhaps doing, the same things I am right now. There’s more parts to this, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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  41. How you co-relate having God or Existence of God with truth of Christianity. I mean, all religions have concept of God. Just because you were surrounded by Christian you accept Christianity! You should have study more about contemporary religions before selecting one religion for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      You’re making assumptions in order to make a point, my friend. First, I was not “surrounded by Christians.” My circle of friends were almost exclusively non-believers. Second, I had been studying world religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tao, etc.) for eight years at this point, and had in fact mostly ignored Christianity (I’d never read the Bible).


  42. “Kat sat up, blinking, and stared at me, then quietly and authoritatively said, “Whoa. God is after you.” And so it began. Or from God’s perspective, I suppose, continued.” So it is kat who planted this idea of God is after you! I am sorry, but you were wrong in choosing your religion this way. Why you did not went to doctor or psychiatrist to learn about your mind?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      No, Kat did not plant the idea in my mind, she simply echoed what I was thinking. I did not believe then (and still do not) that I needed to see a psychiatrist simply because I spoke the words “Come unto me.” And, no, it was not how I “chose my religion.” It did not indicate, in my thinking at the time, any particular belief system, only the idea of an innate longing for God. If you read parts two and three of this series (and numerous other posts) you’ll see how the idea continued to develop in my thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I already read part-2 and 3. Unfortunately its too late to change your mind for truth. Please read bible again with open eyes and mind. Thanks for replying my comments. I am a truth seeker, looking for answers. It surprise me when i met someone who think he already find the true path!

        Liked by 1 person

      • mitchteemley says:

        Just curious: What truth is it you think it’s too late to change my mind to? Glad you’re a truth-seeker, my friend, as am I.


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