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

surprised-by-joy

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

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About mitchteemley

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

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

  1. claire says:

    ah yes I too love this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Eli says:

    Such a great series.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eliza says:

    Sigh. Thank you for sharing. You make me jealous. As well as truly happy for you that you’ve found your home and your truth. May we all find our truths.
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I live by the belief that truth is truth, Eliza, that Mt. Everest is the same Mt. Everest for me as it is for you. By the same principal, I believe that the God who created and loves me created and loves you. I’d be thrilled to introduce you to him.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Eliza says:

        🙂 I believe in a source of the world. I believe in the energy that created the world, that is the consciousness of the world, and that is here today and always, because it just is, which we are a part of. I believe in the reality I see. I don’t know what I believe further. I’ve been brought up in a religious jewish family. I don’t know what I believe about judaism. I don’t know what I believe about all the beliefs I see around me. I think a lot of the basis of all religions and beliefs have the same spirituality and truth and connection at the core. I don’t know where my truth lies. Truth is objective. But truth is also subjective. One persons truth may not be another persons truth. I don’t know if I believe a source of the world could love me, coz’ I’m here. Where does truth lie? I wonder. What will my reality be? I’m waiting for the clarity. Why am I rambling?
        Love, light and glitter

        Liked by 2 people

      • mitchteemley says:

        You’re not rambling, you’re seeking. And meanwhile, God is seeking you. Keep going, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mitchteemley says:

        P.S. That’s called pantheism, btw, the belief that God is a force, rather than a conscious Being, and that everything is a part of that force. It comes to us by way of Hinduism. It’s what I more-or-less believed, too, before the spiritual journey described in this blog post.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. numrhood says:

    hebrews 13:39-41 jesus is the same yesterday
    remember to do good & to share with others

    Like

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your faith journey with us. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) who had his own journey through atheism, believed that atheism was the last step before true faith. I once read that anyone who honestly searched for truth would ultimately find God.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My own journey has been in roughly the opposite direction, but I still like this series.

    After experiencing the train wreck (which predates U-know-who) of contemporary US politics, it is nice to hear something heartfelt and well-put that encourages me to stretch and appreciate a different point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman says:

    I love how each of us have our own way of stumbling onto faith. Personally, I was born into a family of Christians, and just naturally believe in God…it was never a decision, my belief was just there from as far back as I can remember. Of course, I’ve had my questions and have struggled to define that belief as I’ve matured, but the core is a constant. My dad was raised in a Christian family, but by the time he was a young man, had decided that he didn’t believe in God. Then, in the face of a family tragedy, he actually tried to prove to himself that there wasn’t a God, and in the process, came to believe in God. At which time he quit his high-paying job to go to seminary and become (a rather poor) minister. And he never regretted that decision. The paths are many, but ultimately, they end up in the same place…..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Once we taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8)–incredibly good!–no other flavor can begin to satisfy. Praise God for C. S. Lewis and other masters of logic who can refute arguments that sidestep truth. And praise God for stories like yours, Mitch, proving that when staunch skeptics of God honestly seek truth, their journeys ALWAYS lead to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am currently reading Mere Christianity as well- CS Lewis is so fascinating! It helps me to understand my own Christianity better as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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