“…swimming lessons are better than a life-line to the shore…” – C.S. Lewis
Hey, Mr Lewis!!! Stop pointing at me!!!
C S Lewis is one of my favorite authors. Just when I think I have learned something from what he wrote, I read it again and something new that I did not see hits me right in the middle of my forehead. I never stop learning when I read his books. Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century and arguably the most influential Christian writer of his day. His major contributions in literary criticism, children’s literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown and acclaim. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, The Four Loves, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.
Well, today I was reading his book, Weight of Glory, and this line in the book jumped out at me. “…swimming lessons are better than a life-line to the shore. For of course, that lifeline is really a death-line ” Man, does this cut uncomfortably close to the things I am struggling with these days.
C.S. Lewis is making a metaphor of God being a Sea or an Ocean. And the challenge for us is to deal with the temptation to not dive in, or float out, to just trust in God for the things that He has prepared for us. But what we normally do is to just stick our toes in…because in reality we are afraid of what God has in store for us. Too many times our “solution” is to have a life-line. Always holding on to something that we perceive as “safe”. We always want to have a backup plan, just in case my commitment doesn’t work out. Our actions betray what we say sometimes. We say that we “trust and obey God in all things” all the while holding on tight to a perceived lifeline. The the end result of that is nothing like “trusting” in God. Many of us do this…it just shows us how weak our faith can be sometimes.
Well, as Lewis later explains, that idea of just dabbling, of not jumping in, comes from the Tempter. Moderation (out of fear) is winning. Then, paralysis sets in our lives and we don’t grow at all. We don’t experience. We don’t help others… and the list of failures could go on and on as a result of our lack of faith and trust.
Yesterday, I read a line from my devotional that said, “Whoever fears any man does not know God well enough.” In my case, it would probably more accurately be, “Whoever fears for his future does not know God well enough.” I am afraid that soon, I won’t ever be able to do the things that I love doing the most. I am afraid that if I do not have a “life-line” how will I make it through the next few years. I am afraid of the future job security at work. I am afraid that any another path will be a mistake. Where is God in all this? What is my future? What happens next? What is God saying to me?
Why am I afraid to let go of that line?
I’ll tell you most of the answer: because of my family, the people I love most in the world, and who depend on me, will go out to sea with me if I let go. Or, if Lewis is right, they may sink with me too if I hold on too tightly, and don’t learn how to swim with the changing current.
So, what I am going to do? I’m jumping in. I am going to Swim. How about you?