There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become a Christian. But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have gone a certain distance along the Christian road. These things are purely practical, though they do not look as if they were. They are directions for dealing with particular crossroads and obstacles on the journey and they do not make sense until a man has reached those places. Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone. There will come a day perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity was the first CS Lewis book I read. Since then I’ve added the Chronicles of Narnia to the list. Right now I’m stuck midway through Miracles. Next on the list is The Screwtape Letters and the other books he wrote on Apologetics.
The other day I was thinking about how the Bible seems to make more sense to me now compared to when I first started reading it as a Christian more than 10 years ago. I was full of pride back then, going full throttle in my career thinking that I had it all figured out. I thought I knew all there was to know about Christianity. How foolish I was. The Lord dealt with me in those areas and more since that time.
Last year I was following a devotional written by Oswald Chambers. A wise and kind-hearted lady in the church I go to gently explained to me that I was only scratching the surface of the Bible that way. The journey I was on would only make sense, she said, if I started at the very beginning. I had to allow God to reveal himself to me. And the only way to do this properly was to return to where it all began.
Don’t get me wrong, I think devotionals are fine, and they serve a useful purpose of their own. But I realize now that she was right. I resisted at first. The old prideful me was demanding to be heard and its opinion was that she was wrong and I was doing fine where I was. I threw away my pride and humbled myself to her loving leadership and wisdom, and obeyed. I am so glad that I did.
Reading Genesis again opened my eyes to the struggles, hopes and broken dreams of the characters in them. Adam and Eve’s going their own way and the price they paid for that (including the death of one son and the banishment of the other), Abraham’s longing for a child of his own, Isaac losing his beloved mother and Jacob running away from a brother who wanted him dead. They seemed like real people now, as real as the people I see around me.
I saw in their journeys how the way they related to God was much like the way I had done. They’re no different from me and I’m no different from them. And I learned that CS Lewis was right. There truly is a time for everything, including the understanding of some things that appear unexplainable at a given time. And it is best to “leave it alone” when it doesn’t make sense. The Bible promises that the Spirit will explain things that need to be explained at the proper time. The Bible also says to wait on God and keep the faith for those things that defy all explanations.
What to do then? Just keep going, keep trusting and keep reading the Word of God. Someday perhaps, as CS Lewis said, I will suddenly see what it all means.