“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” – C.S. Lewis
Children have no trouble looking at God and the universe with fear and awe and wonder. Having no awareness or recollection of being assaulted in a tangible sense by the wickedness of sin or lost hope in broken promises or dreams, one safely resides in virginal tranquility untouched by the things that seek about to ruin souls. Back then, there were no wolves howling at the moon, nor were there vultures circling the sky above. Nights were made for fairy tales and shadow puppets, not superstitious stories and boogie men. When we laid our heads down at the end of the day, the sun did not appear to die or even disappear as it does during an eclipse. No, it slept peacefully, as did we, awaiting another opportunity to rise and enlighten more souls.
We left our problems at the side of our beds as we prayed, knowing full well that God could handle them far better than even mom and dad (assuming they had taught us well). We knew that He loved us because the Bible told us so, and nothing had provided any evidence to the contrary. And if it did, it was simply wrong. A heresy is a heresy when the word is synonymous with lie. Far above the clouds, the throne of God stood gloriously uncontested, as did the Word, His only begotten Son. Even the emptiest of darkness bends its knee or withers away at even the slightest glimpse of His light or a hint thereof. Winters, like furnaces, are only as warm as the hearts that fill the hearths, and every stranger encountered is an angel when one has yet to be given, much less to accept a reason to doubt anything the grownups say.
When both faith and soul is free as this, there is nothing holding us back from exploring our little slices of Narnia without fear of white witches, slave traders or monsters in the sea. But what happens once idealism has its first frightening encounter with reality and pessimism sets in – when the brave new world of the young child collides with the monotonous island of the old cynic?
I came across that hat thought to have been given to Santa Claus, a year or so later, tucked away among a hoard of red, white and green sparkly things. The result was an unpleasant meeting with a dark stranger named Skepticism. It is not so much the thought of darkness that scares us as it is doubt in the light. Darkness we had known, but it never produced the feeling of loneliness when we had light as our friend. Once that line has been crossed, it is hard to stop the fall and nearly impossible to retain or reclaim the preconceived naivety of childhood. Or so it seems. If at any time we were able to grasp the concept of true reality amidst the haze of the fading memory of paradise from which we had departed, then we would immediately pull our heads back into the clouds where they belong. All things truly are possible to those who believe – this concept is not the product of fantasy – and the reality of such miracles is far more enchanting than the fluffy stuff of fairy tales.
To trust in man is not something reserved for gullible fools ignorant of sin and evil. Not at all. If that were the case, then I boldly dare to rebut with utmost confidence that God Himself is the most naive man ever to walk the earth. After all, His wager tremendously outweighs that proposed by Paschal. Though we lose everything by rejecting the One for whom we were made, it is our Beloved who pays the price most dearly when there is lack of trust on either side. Loving every one of us as if there were only one of us while we love ourselves as if this is our world and others are just passing through, He loses everything He has ever had every single time one little sheep wanders away from the 99 to follow the whisper of the subtle Enemy who continuously roams about planting and watering his seeds of doubt, fear and despair.
“I was at this time of living, like so many Atheists or Anti-theists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.” – C.S. Lewis
It was by choice that I struggled with doubts in the past – not so much in God’s existence as was Lewis’ case, but in His relationship to us. However, it would not be my choice to hold on to the garments of Our Lord through the dark caves of maturity. That I have found can be attributed to nothing other than grace. If it were up to me, I would have long abandoned what logic and reason strongly argued were but silly superstitions used as tools for oppressing and suppressing the unlearned and ignorant.
I would have probably stowed my Bible away under a stack of other forgotten things collecting dust, or perhaps even burned it to further stress the end of my allegiance. Then I would have tucked a book by Dawkins under my arm and attended a meeting with a group of uber-intellectual sophists to hear how Science makes the world go ’round from the mouth of a Macbook toting guru. Dismissing childish fables like that of St. Michael slaying Satan or David and Goliath at our big boy meetings, we would use fancy rhetoric as a sword to dissect the enemy demigod of Mystery. We would conclude by sitting around plastic tables for a communal meal consisting of Starbucks coffee and cigarettes as we laughed at all the silly things that religious fools did and rant and rage about their evils; all the while unaware of the cloud of irony that filled the flat roofed community center we had built as a temple unto ourselves.
Thanks be to God (with a little help from Lewis), that would not be the case, for it was when I began attempting to disprove Christianity that God began to disprove me. Without His wings as a hiding place or a leader to trust at all, I had no choice but to flee to my books which had always served as a safe haven before. Lewis once wrote that a man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. He also said that we are never too old for Narnia and that it is there that we must return as adults. And as I continued to climb a mountain in the dark searching for answers to questions I had never planned to ask, it would be ol’ Jack Lewis who showed me that Reason was not the enemy of Faith but that they are in fact old friends only recently separated by the dying imagination of once young children who had rebelled and grown old.
“Now faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian, I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable; but when I was an atheist, I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why faith is such a necessary virtue; unless you teach your moods “where they get off” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of faith.” - C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity