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

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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–written five years ago when my blog was new.

Few have brought so much baggage along on their journey of faith 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 a universal neurosis, as Freud had argued (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, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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

  1. Reblogged this on The Recovering Legalist and commented:
    I was about to look for something I’d written to re-post for today, that is, until I could write some new stuff having to do with “leftovers.” That’s when I decided to go read some other blogs, first. Lo and behold, Mitch Teemley’s blog was the first to come up, and I immediately felt impressed to share it.

    Please read Mitch’s story of how he came to faith in Christ. Even if you are already a believer, it will be an encouragement.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Bill Sweeney says:

    I remember reading this way back when I started reading your posts. It’s such a great testimony. Second to only the Bible, C.S. Lewis has been a great help to my spiritual journey.

    Liked by 9 people

  3. Bruce says:

    I’m really glad you reposted this Mitch, I missed it when you originally posted it. I read all three parts. I am struck by the way that God uniquely draws each of us to Him, it’s almost like a customized calling if you will. The same and yet personal. I also am a fan of C.S. Lewis. Thank you so much for sharing this! Blessings.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. boromax says:

    I truly enjoyed reading through your testimony of coming to faith, Mitch. It tweaked my heart several times with familiar longings and sensations. As many others have commented, C.S. Lewis (and his writings) have been an important part of my journey, too. Recently I happened upon a unique and wondrous YouTube channel that is bringing “Jack’s” legacy to life in a new and different way. I think you’d like it: https://www.youtube.com/user/CSLewisDoodle

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Kathy says:

    I was a slow and sometimes reluctant convert also, until God put me in a place where I had no other choice but to turn to Him.

    Liked by 7 people

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

  7. “I swore I’d follow Him forever if He’d just prove His presence.”

    Indeed. Why does this god never do this, when it had no problem providing evidence per the bible?

    Liked by 3 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      God, per the Bible, is a spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), not a material being. Our five external senses are designed strictly for the latter. No one, per the Bible, has ever seen God (John 1:18). The same would be true of hearing Him. Visions and other manifestations of God in the Bible are either non-material communications (i.e. with the spirit, an inner sense–as vast numbers of saints and mystics have attested), “signs and wonders” (Acts 14:3), or the incarnation (Jesus). Had I no indications at all that there was a God, I would never have believed. However, seeing a physical God or hearing an audible God-voice have not been among them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Per the bible, this god is a material being, when it hangs out with Moses, et al. Moses also saw this god, if your bible is to be believed. So, if our senses are only designed for reality, then you have nothing to base your religion on.

        Interesting that you claim you are right and so many Christians who claim personal experiences with hearing, etc are wrong. Your evidence for your claim?

        Liked by 3 people

      • mitchteemley says:

        Actually, no, the Bible does not teach that God is a material being, quite the opposite, which is why I gave you some references above, but there are many, many more. Moses saw manifestations of God’s presence (a burning bush, God’s “glory,” a pillar of fire, etc.). And matter–that which can be observed with five external human senses–is not whole of reality, btw. According to quantum physics, matter makes up a very small percentage of the universe.

        Many Christians do indeed say God “said” such-and-such to them. I often say it myself. What we mean is that we sensed with our spirit that God was telling us something. Miracles do indeed happen, but they don’t include seeing God in the flesh, because he doesn’t have a fleshly body (except in the Incarnation of Christ). The definitive study on visions and voices, btw, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness by Evelyn Underhill, discusses how the great saints and mystics throughout history have described having visions like those of Moses, or “heard” God with their spirit (Ephesians 3:6). This is mainstream orthodox theology. Why? Because it’s what the Bible teaches. I’ve been a Bible teacher for 40 years, and have guest spoken at virtually every denomination there is (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Methodist, Mennonite, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, etc. etc.).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Actually the bible does say that god is a material being. “9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.” – Exodus 24 And that’s why the holy spirit is called a spirit, rather than God or Jesus. Yep, you did give me other verses and yep, they contradict what the bible says in other places, nothing new at all for the bible. This god changes as humans change and make up new things. This god loves smells of burnt meat, needs gold, demands the finest physical things just like any Bronze Age god.

        Matter and energy is the whole of reality, but I’m more than happy for you to provide evidence to support your claim that it is not. You would be up for a Nobel Prize if you can. Per Quantum physics says that matter makes up as much of the universe as it does, in quantum particles, like bosons, quarks, etc. In relationship to the size of the universe, there is more empty space than matter. You see, trying to claim that quantum physics says something it doesn’t works very poorly when trying to lie to someone who is interested in such things. No supernatural nonsense has been found.

        Yep, Christians including you have claimed to get messages from this god; some audibly and some in “spirit”. And unsurprisingly, you all get different messages that contradict each other. Other people claim that their gods communicate with them too. I don’t believe them either.

        You want to claim that miracles happen oh but not “x” type of miracles. Again, cherry picking and making things up as you go to excuse your god’s evident non-existence. And your “definitive” book is nothing more than baseless claims and made up nonsense. As for saints and mystics being “mainstream orthodox theology”, I know that plenty of Christians disagree with you on that. You have invented a new type of god since the old type could be shown not to exist, so now things are invisible. That’s rather like the Jehovah’s Witnesses having to declare Jesus came back invisibly since they their prophecy failed. And their prophecies fail just like other Christian prophecies.

        As for you being a “bible teacher”, so what? Other Christians claim the same thing and disagree with you. That you teach your opinion about baseless claims isn’t impressive.

        Liked by 2 people

    • ltlionheart says:

      Couldn’t help but to be drawn into your conversation with Mitch. Earlier this year while sleeping next to the ocean in an old grevillea forest, I awoke to the first birdsong of the morning. I then heard a voice that could only have been the sound of Creator (Spirit, Ruach) awakening the new day. The words being spoken were in an unfamiliar language but the sound of the voice was the most loving, tender, breath-filled, life-giving noise I have ever heard (or will ever hear). I believed in God when this happened but did not know of the degree of tenderness involved. Hope sharing this event is helpful as you consider the possibility of choosing faith in a God who loves you with great tenderness and respects/trusts you with the task of image-bearing. Warm regards.

      Liked by 3 people

      • no problem in being drawn in. Many people make the same claims, and still no reason to assume that what they thought they heard was a god. There is no evidence for a god who loves anyone nor a god that respects or trusts anyone, certainly not in the bible. That god had no problem destroying humans constantly. We also have Paul claiming that this god creates some humans unable to ever accept it and then damns them through no fault of their own.

        That is not love or respect or trust. That is a tyrant who is desperate for obedience and who needs to harm humans as an object lesson to the other humans; little different from any dictator. As all theists do, you’ve invented a god in your own image. Happily, that god is seems to be a nice one. But it is no more real than the god that conservative Christians make up when they want a god that agrees with their bigotry.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I so enjoyed reading the 3 entries, it was so relatable and I’m a huge fan of C.S.Lewis! Simply inspiring. I’ve shared it with me friends and on my FB page! Bravo!! I look forward to reading more from you!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m into working my blog into some sort of decent presentation (had a break from it and couldn’t go back to my old blog); right now though, my lifes in the middle of a type of crisis, with our youngest and blind son,18 recovered from a years seizures, and now in the aftermath of quite terrible sideeffects. Praying it all settles soon. What happens is, there’s little time to write. This post in series is rich, and I’d love to repost on my blog with full credit to you, if that’s good? I dont know much at all about you, but words here say you’re with the Christ my fam and I so love.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Too fascinated by CS Lewis movie ‘Shadow lands’? Hollywood production at al it’s one of the most poignant things I’ve experienced.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Too, am fascinated by CS Lewis movie ‘Shadow lands’? Hollywood production et al, it’s one of the most poignant things I’ve experienced.

    Liked by 2 people

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

  13. Eliza says:

    I relate to the desire. Though I haven’t yet read the rest of what you have to say, so I guess we’ll read those posts first… Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 2 people

  14. themeonnblog says:

    Just wow…can’t wait to read part 2.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part One | Matthew Seufer Photography -Reaching Millions Worldwide with a GIFT of HOPE,COMFORT, and INSPIRATION in 2020.

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