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


Conclusion to the three-part story of my journey from atheism to faith.

To read Part One, click here.

“Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind, I turned to share the transport.”          ~William Wordsworth

Almost immediately after my diffident conversion, I went looking for something that could explain it, and stumbled upon (or rather, was led to) the writings of C. S. Lewis. It was like finding a bundle of letters from my “real father.” His thoughts were as alive to me as my own.

Indeed, they paralleled my own in every way, except that he’d thought and written about them in far greater depth. When I read of his brushes with Joy, his word for the untranslatable German “sehnsucht,” the transcendent longing of which all other longings are merely a shadow, my heart jumped from my chest. Here again was the thing I’d called “a hunger for a flavor that didn’t exist!”

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is Grand Tetonssuch a thing as water… If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” (Mere Christianity) 

No mere philosophical construct, this phenomenon was the linchpin of Jack’s conversion, as it had been mine:

“In a sense, the central story of my life is about nothing else (but) that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy (and) doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.” (Surprised by Joy)

Like me, but many years before me, my spiritual father had surrendered to the flavor that did exist. And like me, he had brought a lot of luggage along as he moved down the path from atheist to deist to (finally) unfettered disciple. And yet he never turned back.

And neither have I.

“For those who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, indeed, he has prepared a city for them.”

~Hebrews 11:14-16


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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63 Responses to Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part Three

  1. Karen L Greene says:

    Very profound!
    Thank You


  2. Bill Strickler says:

    I had some similar experiences on my journey to accepting the LORD. There is too much to share here, but the clincher came when I hear Pastor Chuck Smith gave a sermon about the “GOD-Shaped” hole in our hearts. I had tried to fill that void with many things, but it wasn’t until I surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s call, that I found true peace.
    Blessings to you Brother,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such a great testimony, Mitch. Lewis has had a huge influence on my faith walk. If you have a chance, please read post I wrote about Lewis last November, the 50th anniversary of his death.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Remembering the Other “Jack” | Mitch Teemley

  5. Pingback: Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part Two | Mitch Teemley

  6. Matilda Novak says:

    This is really good, Mitch….Thank you for sharing Your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sonniq says:

    I enjoyed your 3 part post. I saw a reply you left on Steven Jenkins blog. I left a lengthy reply you may have read and today I left a follow up, on my own journey. My journey went from Christianity to being agnostic to Nichiren Buddhism. I’m not here to say I’m right and you’re wrong. So many people have nothing that guides them. They don’t even realize they need something that helps them to be a better human. Each person decided for themself what is and isn’t important. Having something that creates such passion for you is a wonderful thing. I wish you continued happiness.

    I started writing to Steven because we have a shared interest. Prison. I have a website “My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison” at mynameisjamie.net. Based on letters shared with me by the father of one of my grandsons who is now starting the 10th year of incarceration. I’m active in writing within within that genre. I would gladly welcome any response.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. barbara says:


    Liked by 2 people

  9. mitchteemley says:

    Thank you, Barbara. Happy New Year!


  10. Read all 3 parts. This is so good, Mitch! Your journey to faith and the way you describe it is beautiful. “Surprised By Joy” is now a *must* on my reading list!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Nancy Ruegg says:

    C.S. Lewis is my husband’s favorite author and referred to him quite frequently in his sermons, because his winsome logic is irrefutable! Your quote from Mere Christianity is a perfect example. Who can argue with that?! In addition, God used that same book to turn our older son around when he was in college. What a legacy Jack left–with far-reaching results.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. It was wonderful to read your testimony Mitch. It gives me hope for the professing Atheists in my life and also, gives me insight into why they are often so cranky about their lack of belief…they’re hungry!:0)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. esorenneiluj25 says:

    Great post!
    This made me want to continue reading Mere Christianity. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Mitch, I see the connection between our stories; )

    Liked by 2 people

  15. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    Conclusion to the three-part story of my journey from atheism to faith:


  16. Enviroart says:

    I like the way you describe your road Mitch ! You must read “A return to love” by Marianne Williamson. I think you will enjoy if you have not read it. Thank you for liking my blog, Best to you !

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks for sharing! It really made me think twice as well about my own faith and journey up to now.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Love this story! I found God when I got sober. I thought I’d had a Godless childhood (brought up Unitarian) because I was always searching. I temporarily filled my spiritual longing with “spirits.” Now I am interested in C.S. Lewis’ writings…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. God bless you! Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A very fascinating and intriguing read, Mitch. It is quite a journey you went on. I feel a certain longing, myself, for that unknowable fruit (however, I think that anyone who is introspective and creative enough will experience these cravings for something more or something unknown).

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Wow! I am excited you came to visit my blog. I am ecstatic to visit yours. Really well done, but most of all, right on the mark. I have long thought exactly as you (and Lewis before you) have thought. I remember sitting in a college class on Shakespeare’s sonnets thinking how remarkable it is that so many great writers struggled with mortality and longed for immortality that there must be something to it – how else would we even have any sense about it. My journey into Christ started in 1979, thinking that it was me seeking for “truth” and discovering that it was Truth and the Way and the Life calling me.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Pingback: The Tree of Life | Navigating by Faith

  23. aviator3230 says:

    Hey Mitch,
    Enjoyed it so much I posted all three to my Facebook wall. Discovering Lewis as a young Christian was one of the most important milestones in my spiritual life and I can totally relate. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. oneta hayes says:

    “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists…” This is much like my thesis in my doctoral manuscript; God did not create man with any need that he himself will not meet. I use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and match the Jehovah names of God to substantiate my thesis. I used the eight names that show relationship of God to man. There are many more that describe him outside that relationship. I also am a admirer of C. S. Lewis; however, rather a late comer with a background very different from his. Thanks for this testimony.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Pingback: A Remedy to the Utter Loneliness of the Human Condition | Navigating by Faith

  26. DebFarris says:

    Mitch, this is one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever “heard “. I’m so glad I “happened” upon it this morning before I sit down with my “Love Letter”. I wish you and my husband could meet. Yours is a great story for the intellectual, analytical, good-hearted skeptic. Thank you, Deb

    Liked by 2 people

  27. greenpete58 says:

    Very interesting, Mitch. I’ve always been aware of C.S. Lewis, but never read him. Must do that.

    I guess some people have those longings and desires, a “hunger” as you call it. I’ve known a lot of Christians over the years, and some are humble about their faith (they do little broadcasting, keeping it personal) and others are, I guess, “born again,” and wear it on their sleeves. I’ve noticed that the latter group have often had traumatic experiences, such as drug or alcohol addictions, then swing 180 degrees after finding Jesus. Their passion for drugs or alcohol are displaced by a passion for Christ (or a different passion: I’m reading a book now about an alcoholic who was saved by rock climbing!). Their personalities lend themselves to plunging headfirst into whatever they do. Though this doesn’t sound like you.

    I’m not atheist, I consider myself agnostic. I believe there’s something intangible, but if there is a God, divinity, cosmic intelligence, or whatever, it was intended to be a mystery, that there are some things we weren’t meant to know… despite the Old Testament, New Testament, Koran, Book of Mormon, or any other book (although they may be excellent guides to living a “good” life). I really have no “hunger” to unravel the mystery. When people become convinced they know for sure (atheist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Amish, Muslim… whatever), that dogma can cause a lot of trouble. I believe the present is what’s important, and if I live a good life, and treat people, animals, and the earth with decency, I’ll be taken care of in the afterlife (if there is one).

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      I’m reminded of Pascal’s famous “God-shaped vacuum” line. When I first read it, I realized everything I’d tried to fulfill my sense of purpose with was only an echo or (as I said previously) a shadow of the real thing. This was something I couldn’t see until the time came that I had to. “There was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace. This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”


      • greenpete58 says:

        Obviously, Mitch, you’ve found contentment and a “sense of purpose” through God, and it’s made you a better person, and I’m happy for you. It’s a big old world, though, with disparate people who find “purpose” through both the secular and non-secular. Not that this applies to you, but I think one needs to be careful of thinking his or her way is the only way. Humility is a Christian virtue.

        Enjoyed the talk…peace on you!

        Liked by 1 person

  28. hafong says:

    I feel a sense of strangeness reading your post on C. S. Lewis. I have his book, Surprised by Joy. It’s for my philosophy class on Does God Exist way back in the 70’s. Though I don’t think I actually read the book, I treasure it. Perhaps it’s the title. I wasn’t born a Christian at all, but somehow about 20 years ago, I saw Jesus on the cross. It was quite astounding. The air around me became very still and silent, though I could hear the faint sound of a lawnmower in the background. I somehow became a Catholic after. I doubt attend mass anymore. I’m not sure if I believe in the conventional God though I believe in the spiritual.
    I’m up late sitting with my dog. She had her ear drained of a hematoma today and yesterday. She’s rather restless, banging into things with her head cone. I have given up thoughts of sleeping and thought maybe sitting up with her and reading would calm her down. I’m hoping the animal spirits could help out, too. Working somewhat.


    Liked by 1 person

  29. I loved reading your journey. Thank you for sharing it with me. It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate it with you, even if only through pages on a computer screen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part Two | Mitch Teemley

  31. Tina says:

    I had to chuckle as I read this. My story is definitely not as deep, but I still managed to come out the other end with a great fondness for C.S. Lewis. I can relate to him. Interestingly enough, my “how I got from point “A” to point “B”” is also a three part story. I’ll be sharing it on my blog in the coming new year. Yeah, definitely not as deep, but I like the way God has written my story. It’s quirky like me. 😊 Thanks for sharing. I really needed that.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Mitch,
    Thank you for sharing your testimony again. It is a beautiful celebration of the love of God and His desire to unite with His image-bearers. May the Lord richly bless you and take you even deeper into your relationship with Him. Karen

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I never get tired of reading about people’s “journeys.” I have forwarded all three parts of your story to a beloved skeptic, because he seems to be thinking similarly to you and Lewis. (Prayer, please.)

    Liked by 1 person

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