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.

28 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 5 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 8 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 4 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 4 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 6 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 2 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.

      Like

      • 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 1 person

      • 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.).

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  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 1 person

  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 1 person

  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 1 person

  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 1 person

  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 1 person

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