Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christian, Writer, and Fatal Reservation: on a C. S. Lewis theme

Cover of "The Weight of Glory"
Cover of The Weight of Glory
by Jean Purcell
Twitter @opinaripeople

What can fundamentally and deceitfully trouble the Christian, and therefore the writer, is what C. S. Lewis called "fatal reservation." It works as a potentially fatal reservation toward God that is somewhat like "counting the cost" during a critical time of decision and taking the less costly or no-cost way.
     I immediately think of Peter. He failed himself at the campfire, when he denied knowing Christ. Yet, Peter saw what that reserve cost him and repented. Ultimately, he gave his life up as witness of his identification with Christ. Yet the sense of incapacity to bear the suffering of following God's way in trust...that was surely what happened at that courtyard campfire, reminded by Jesus himself at the other campfire, after the Resurrection. Christ knew that weakness tries to claim us. He sweat great drops as blood when facing the Cross. This is when reservation most grips us, too, when we are stressed by important choices that relate to whether we honor ourselves.  
     And God knows our weaknesses. He remembers that we are dust, said the psalmist. In Christ, no less, He came to save the entire, weak human race. He knows every weakness that can be brought to any crisis situation where protecting ourselves means to deny Christ. God loves all of us, the weak, so much that He will help us with His strength. We are never alone.

I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up 
with My righteous right arm (Isaiah 41:10b).   
Unless believing and relying on such promises of God, every Christian in despair is as vulnerable as the hardest unbeliever. 
The land of Everything and Anything glares and blares at us, all the time. Recently reading in my coffee-mug stained, treasured copy of The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis, I returned to "A Slip of the Tongue," where he writes about this reservation, this hesitation, and draws the conclusion: I do not think that any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, "this fatal reservation." Only God can...It (the hindrance) grows all over me like a new shell each night. Failures will be forgiven. It is acquiescence that is fatal.*
     The possibility of actively hindering divine and wonderful work continues as long as we live. Aren't we often likely to try to trim around the edges when dealing with real, significant, daily matters? Each time, I hope, the reminder comes to us: "There is no trimming room." The lives of others before us, who also wanted to trim away at God's way, teach that we cannot follow God in our own strength. He never equipped us for that.  

"I am the Vine, you are the branches," Jesus said. 
Lord, draw me closer now. Whatever you must do to keep me connected, do with Your power that is far beyond this Christian's comprehension, yet that has my trust. Amen.

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers
When Things Go Wrong - Clare Savoca
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