1 January

Supposing We Really Found Him?

It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. 'Look out!' we cry, 'it's alive'. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back—I would have done so myself if I could—and proceed no further with Christianity. An 'impersonal God'—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads—better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ('Man's search for God!') suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
—from Miracles

January 1911 Lewis (age twelve) enrolls at Cherbourg Preparatory School in Malvern.

January 1

The Proverbs of Solomon the son of David, King of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding (1:1-2).

There is no easy way to be a Christian. Christianity requires a lot of effort, sacrifice and commitment. The heart of the Christian life is to live the way Christ taught and lived. Though it sounds simple, it is terribly difficult. The temptation is to throw up our hands and say, "I'm not Christ! I can't do the things He did!" Still, Christ himself said that we should "be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48) How can Christ ask such a thing of us?

Christ never for one minute thought that we would be as perfect as God is. He knew that we are imperfect and sinful. He also knew how much God loves us and wants us to grow and to be happy. With His help we can find joy and maturity. To assist us, God gave us His word; the Holy scriptures. If we will be dedicated to reading the Bible regularly, and do it prayerfully, God will help us to understand it, and through understanding we will be able to live more perfectly, the way God intends.

prayer: O Lord, help me to know you, and through knowing you, help me to be like you. Make me a faithful and loving follower, and be with me to guide me this day, and every day to come. Amen.
2 January

Imagine a Mystical Limpet

Why are many people prepared in advance to maintain that, whatever else God may be, He is not the concrete, living, willing, and acting God of Christian theology? I think the reason is as follows. Let us suppose a mystical limpet, a sage among limpets, who (rapt in vision) catches a glimpse of what Man is like. In reporting it to his disciples, who have some vision themselves (though less than he) he will have to use many negatives. He will have to tell them that Man has no shell, is not attached to a rock, is not surrounded by water. And his disciples, having a little vision of their own to help them, do get some idea of Man. But then there come erudite limpets, limpets who write histories of philosophy and give lectures on comparative religion, and who have never had any vision of their own. What they get out of the prophetic limpet's words is simply and solely the negatives. From these, uncorrected by any positive insight, they build up a picture of Man as a sort of amorphous jelly (he has no shell) existing nowhere in particular (he is not attached to a rock) and never taking nourishment (there is no water to drift it towards him). And having a traditional reverence for Man they conclude that to be a famished jelly in a dimensionless void is the supreme mode of existence, and reject as crude, materialistic superstition any doctrine which would attribute to Man a definite shape, a structure, and organs.
—from Miracles

January 1914 Lewis and childhood Belfast friend Arthur Greeves begin what would be a lifelong correspondence.

January 2

The Proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity (1:1, 3).

A small boy was excitedly opening a toy automobile, but found that it required a good deal of assembly. Try as he might, he could not get the car put together, and with a cry he threw some of the pieces across the room. The frustration of not being able to accomplish what seemed simple was devastating to the boy.

Attempting to live a good Christian life can be just as frustrating sometimes. It seems like it should be easy, but as hard as we might try to live as God would want we find that we can't quite do it. We need help. We need instruction. God gives us that instruction if we only seek it. Through prayer, scripture, and the support of fellow believers we can gain special insights which make living the Christian life much easier and more fulfilling. What seems impossible on our own becomes a pleasure when we have help. We are never alone in our Christian journey. We are given one another, and we are even in touch with God's Holy Spirit.

prayer: O Lord, show me how you want me to be. When I struggle with life, grant me your wisdom to lead me through. Open my eyes, my heart, my spirit. Amen.
3 January

Not Naked but Reclothed

Our own situation is much like that of the erudite limpets. Great prophets and saints have an intuition of God which is positive and concrete in the highest degree. Because, just touching the fringes of His being, they have seen that He is plenitude of life and energy and joy, therefore (and for no other reason) they have to pronounce that He transcends those limitations which we call personality, passion, change, materiality, and the like. The positive quality in Him which repels these limitations is their only ground for all the negatives. But when we come limping after and try to construct an intellectual or 'enlightened' religion, we take over these negatives (infinite, immaterial, impassible, immutable, etc.) and use them unchecked by any positive intuition. At each step we have to strip off from our idea of God some human attribute. But the only real reason for stripping off the human attribute is to make room for putting in some positive divine attribute. In St Paul's language, the purpose of all this unclothing is not that our idea of God should reach nakedness but that it should be reclothed. But unhappily we have no means of doing the reclothing. When we have removed from our idea of God some puny human characteristic, we (as merely erudite or intelligent enquirers) have no resources from which to supply that blindingly real and concrete attribute of Deity which ought to replace it. Thus at each step in the process of refinement our idea of God contains less, and the fatal pictures come in (an endless, silent sea, an empty sky beyond all stars, a dome of white radiance) and we reach at last mere zero and worship a nonentity.
—from Miracles

1892 J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis's longtime friend, colleague, and fellow Inkling (a group of friends who meet regularly from about 1930 to 1963 to share writings, good conversation, and the odd pint), is born in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

January 3

The Proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (1:1,4).

The saying is certainly true which says, "experience is the best teacher." It is through day to day living that we come to understand life. What we did not understand as children we come to know as adults. When we start upon a new endeavor we learn slowly, gathering more information and experience, until we finally master it.

Our Christian life is like that. We start out inexperienced and with little knowledge, but then we grow in our understanding and commitment. Christ Himself spent a good deal of His life preparing for His ministry and work. Like Him, we are growing, maturing and preparing for the kingdom of God which awaits us. When we search for God in the Bible and through prayer we are being made ready for our heavenly home. In this life, we never really arrive at "being" Christian, but we are ever "becoming" Christian. As long as we continue to learn, we continue to grow. In that growth lies wisdom.

prayer: Dear heavenly Father, grant that I might continue to learn more about you each and every day. Create in me a real hunger for Your truth. Amen.
4 January

O Taste and See

The Christian statement that only He who does the will of the Father will ever know the true doctrine is philosophically accurate. Imagination may help a little: but in the moral life, and (still more) in the devotional life we touch something concrete which will at once begin to correct the growing emptiness of our idea of God. One moment even of feeble contrition or blurred thankfulness will, at least in some degree, head us off from the abyss of abstraction. It is Reason herself which teaches us not to rely on Reason only in this matter. For Reason knows that she cannot work without materials. When it becomes clear that you cannot find out by reasoning whether the cat is in the linen-cupboard, it is Reason herself who whispers, 'Go and look. This is not my job: it is a matter for the senses'. So here. The materials for correcting our abstract conception of God cannot be supplied by Reason: she will be the first to tell you to go and try experience—'Oh, taste and see!' For of course she will have already pointed out that your present position is absurd. As long as we remain Erudite Limpets we are forgetting that if no one had ever seen more of God than we, we would have no reason even to believe Him immaterial, immutable, impassible and all the rest of it. Even that negative knowledge which seems to us so enlightened is only a relic left over from the positive knowledge of better men—only the pattern which that heavenly wave left on the sand when it retreated.
—from Miracles

January 4

The Proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings (1:1,6).

It is often hard to listen to someone who tells you something "for our own good." No one likes to hear negative comments, whether they are true or not. It takes a special person to seek criticism and suggestions for improvement. The Bible says that we should be humble and always trying to improve ourselves. This is an important part of wisdom.

The Apostle Paul advised that every person should examine him- or herself to see that he or she is truly living the way Christ would want them to live. Honest examination and evaluation requires a lot of integrity. It is not always easy. Happily, God supports us through our self-examination, and He loves us no matter how good or bad we might find ourselves to be. The love of God is unconditional. God is truly for us, and if He is for us, who can be against us? Wise words may be welcome, or they may create in us feelings of hurt or resentment. Knowing that we are loved by God makes all the difference in the world.

prayer: O Lord, Help me to be open to the comments of others. Let me face my shortcomings with dignity and open-mindedness. Help me ever to work to change myself for the better. Amen.
5 January

Enemies of Goodness

It is no use either saying that if there is a God of that sort—an impersonal absolute goodness—then you do not like Him and are not going to bother about Him. For the trouble is that one part of you is on His side and really agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation. You may want Him to make an exception in your own case, to let you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behaviour, then He cannot be good. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.
—from Mere Christianity

January 5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (1:7).

Standing on the shore of a great ocean, one is amazed at the force of the waves crashing on the rocks. The vast expanse of water is awe-inspiring, and yet it is beautiful. Only a very foolish person would ignore the dangers presented by the sea, and yet, only a fool would not be attracted by its beauty. The ocean is to be feared and respected, but it is also to be experienced. Despite our sense of awe, or perhaps because of it, we are drawn to the water, to be immersed in it, to become part of it. Our true enjoyment of the surf comes when we enter in, but only when we understand it's power.

The same is true of God. We stand in awe before Him, wisely cautious in the face of His power, and yet we long to know Him, to be united with Him. The wise pursue Him with all their heart, while the foolish ignore Him or reject Him through their fear. Once we understand the power of our Lord, this fear enables us to be with Him, immersed in Him, but always respecting His might.

prayer: O Lord, help me to know fear in a positive way, and set my feet on the path to wisdom. Amen.
6 January

A Pleasant Theology

One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?
—from Mere Christianity

1943 The Abolition of Man is published by Oxford University Press.

January 6

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother (1:8).

Parents are entrusted with an awesome responsibility. The idea of raising a child, or instructing a young boy or girl in the best way to live, is incredible. Every mother and father questions the decisions they make hundreds of times in their lives. The ongoing prayer of most men and women is that they have made good choices for their children. Their consolation comes from their children's happiness and prosperity. When the Bible says that children should honor their parents, it is saying that children should live in such a way that no dishonor should ever befall their mothers and fathers.

This is true of our relationship with our heavenly Father, also. God wants for us only the best. He has given instruction, not to show His power or might, but to help us live the best life we possibly can. He only wants our peace and happiness. In turn, we should live in such a way that He is honored. Our actions should reflect the quality of our upbringing. We should live as a proof of how much we love God.

prayer: Dear God, please assist us in our attempts to live as you have instructed. Help us to be a glory and an honor to you. May we do nothing to bring shame to your Holy name. Amen.
7 January

Damned Nonsense

If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, 'If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realise that this also is God.' The Christian replies, 'Don't talk damned nonsense.' For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God 'made up out of His head' as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.
—from Mere Christianity

1955 Lewis takes up residence in Magdalene College, Cambridge.

January 7

My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not (1:10).

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, once walked in the wilderness. He fasted forty days, and when it was past, Satan came and walked with Him. Christ, hungry as he was, refused to be tempted by Satan's charge to turn stones into bread. Christ, poor as he was by worldly standards, withstood the allure of wealth, fame and power. Christ, Holy as He was, refused to put God to a test. In the face of enormous enticement Jesus stood firmly consenting to none of Satan's requests.

It sounds so easy, "consent thou not." Yet many desirous things tempt us. How are we to resist the multitude of temptations we face every day? We resist temptation the same way Jesus did, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

As we grow in our knowledge of God, we feel His presence in our lives, and we become able to rely on His strength to resist enticement when our strength is not enough. Our choice is not so much whether or not to give in to temptation, but whether or not we will allow God to strengthen us when we need it most.

prayer: O Lord, be with me in the face of temptation. Grant me the wisdom and courage I need to resist enticement and help me turn to thee. Amen.
8 January

Something Beyond

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at the first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.
—from Mere Christianity

January 8

Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird (1:17).

There was a man whose hobby was taxidermy. He specialized in rare and exotic birds. One day the man's son expressed an interest in taxidermy. The man wanted the son to experience the whole process, so early one morning they set out to trap a bird for the son to begin with.

"We spread a net to spare the bird. We don't want to damage it in any way, so nets are best to use. However, the nets must be carefully camouflaged so the bird won't suspect anything. If a bird senses the net, it won't come down to take the bait."

If only we had the good sense of the birds! "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." We have a good, basic idea of what things are right and what things are wrong, but we all too often ignore the danger signs and do those things we know that we should not. Alone, we stumble into the snare, finding ourselves hopelessly trapped. With God we receive the wisdom we need to avoid the traps. He liberates us from our foolish tendencies to ignore the signs of peril. As we open ourselves to God, He teaches us wisdom and discernment.

prayer: O Lord, open my eyes to those areas of my life, where it is foolish to tread. Protect my steps and lead me in the ways of righteousness and truth. Amen.
9 January

Somebody Who?

We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody [behind the Moral Law]. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place). The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built.
—from Mere Christianity

January 9

So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof (1:19).

An important question each person should ask is, "How much do I really need?" Christ is quite clear about the accumulation of wealth. As in the story of the man who built his storehouses bigger to hold his great crops, Christ asks each one of us where it is we keep our treasure. Is it on earth or is it in heaven? Surely, God wants every person to enjoy life and to share in good times, but He does not find joy in the celebration of a few when many suffer.

A good guideline to follow concerning the possessions of this world is to contemplate the question of what Christ might do with the same possessions if they were His. If this rule were followed much more would be given and shared, and fewer people would have to do without. The Bible says that greed is keeping what we don't need. God rejoices in the life of a giver, but has no part of the greedy person's life. With His help and guidance, we all can learn to be more giving.

prayer: Oh heavenly Father, open my eyes to the needs of those around me. Destroy the spirit of selfishness in my heart, and teach me to give as you would give. Amen.
10 January

A Good Time Was Had by All

By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively his lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness—the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, 'What does it matter so long as they are contented?' We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves', and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all'. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.
—from The Problem of Pain

1950 Lewis receives his first letter from American fan Joy Davidman Gresham.

January 10

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (1:20-22).

It isn't easy being Christian. There is a great deal of responsibility that goes along with the Christian life. We have been called of God to show love to everyone we come in contact with. We are even called to show love to those people that we will never come in contact with. There are no shortcuts we can take. Love is a matter of giving everything we are, all the time.

How can we hope to learn this kind of love? Through an ever-deepening knowledge of God. Herein true wisdom lies. God can give us the love we do not possess on our own. He fills us with more than enough love, continually refilling us as we share what we have. Only fools will turn from the knowledge of God which fills our hearts and enables us to love unselfishly.

prayer: O heavenly Father, grant me a deeper knowledge of who you are. Fill me with an unselfish love. Let me embrace the intricacies of life, scorning simplicity, and help me to pursue wisdom all of my days. Amen.
11 January

More than Mere Kindness

There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object—we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished [Hebrews 12:8]. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.
—from The Problem of Pain

1942 Lewis begins his second series of BBC talks entitled "What Christians Believe." These talks were later published in Broadcast Talks (or, in the U.S., The Case for Christianity) and comprise Book 2 in Mere Christianity.

January 11

Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you (1:23).

A young woman remembered her girlhood with mixed feelings. When she had been younger she had resisted every effort her parents made to impose rules on her. She resented the fact that her mother and father continually told her what to do. Her usual response was, "When I have children of my own, I'll never treat them the way you treat me."

When she did in fact have children of her own, the words came back to haunt her. She began to understand better why her parents had acted as they had. She began to see the wisdom of her parents' actions and words. Her eyes were opened to the true intentions of her parents: to try to do what was best for their daughter.

The rules and laws of God often have the same effect on us. We resist them, thinking that God doesn't want us to have any fun. If we will only realize that every rule God gives is given out of perfect love for us, we can truly enjoy our lives the way God intends us to. By obeying, we learn more about God.

prayer: Dear God, help me to be obedient to your will. Please help me not to question your wisdom, but to always trust you. If I do, understanding will follow. Amen.
12 January

Amazing Love, How Can It Be?

When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some 'disinterested', because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the 'lord of terrible aspect', is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their Creator's eyes. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring; we are inclined, like the maidens in the old play, to deprecate the love of Zeus. But the fact seems unquestionable.
—from The Problem of Pain

1951 Janie King Moore (Mrs. Moore) dies at the age of seventy-eight in Oxford and is buried at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, Oxford. Mrs. Moore (the mother of Lewis's army buddy Paddy Moore) and her daughter Maureen come under Lewis's care after Paddy's death in World War I.

January 12

But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh (1:25-26).

Once, when I was young, I climbed a tree against the wishes of my mother. I got high up in the branches and found that I could neither continue forward nor go back. I held tight to a large branch and began to cry. I yelled for my mother, and I could see her walk out to where I was captive. Instead of being angry, as I thought she would be, she began to laugh, and placing her hands on her hips, she said, "I told you not to try to climb up there. Now look at you. Why do you think I tell you not to do some things?"

All too often, our inclination is to test God. We know what He says He wants us to do, but we do other things instead. We try to get away with things we know we should not. When we find ourselves in trouble we look to God to bail us out, and we cannot understand why He doesn't jump to our aid. Often God allows us to struggle through adversity in order to learn that He means what He says.

prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I so often do what I know you do not want me to. Forgive my foolishness and disobedience. Help me to heed your will, not my own. Amen.
13 January

War in Heaven

The Screwtape Letters is a fictional correspondence between a senior tempter, Screwtape, and his protégé, Wormwood. In this letter Screwtape attempts to explain the great Quarrel between the Enemy (God) and the "father" of all tempters, Satan:

What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father's quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied 'I wish with all my heart that you did.' It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father's disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous Enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn't make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to!
—from The Screwtape Letters

1919 Lewis (age twenty) is demobilized from his military service in World War I and returns to Oxford.

January 13

When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me (1:27-28).

A little boy waited patiently, day after day, to be allowed to play baseball with the bigger boys on the block. Every game was the same. He sat waiting and never got to play. One day he didn't bother to show up. He found another team on another block where he was needed. His old team came to find themselves short of the number needed to play, so they called on the little boy. The boy said, "If you wanted me so bad, you should have given me a chance to play before. Now it's too late."

Often we treat God the same way. When things are going well we ignore Him, but the minute things go wrong we run to Him, hoping that He will make everything all right. God is not someone that we should turn to only in times of trial. He should be a part of our whole life, both in good times and bad. We must be sure to include God in everything we do.

prayer: Dear God, forgive those times when I seem to forget you. Help me to include you in all I do, think and feel. Be with me to guide me, now and forever. Amen.
14 January

Blurry Visions of God

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.
You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man's self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred—like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope. That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lens.
—from Mere Christianity

1946 The Great Divorce is published by Geoffrey Bles/The Centenary Press, London.

January 14

For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil (1:32-33).

There were once three men who met a thief. The first man foolishly turned to run, and was killed. The second man, a wealthy, powerful leader, tried to bribe the thief, but he too was killed for his troubles. The last man stood fearlessly before the thief, and said, "Of wealth, I have none. The only thing of value I possess is my life, but that is not truly mine, but the Lord's, for I have given all I am to Him." The thief was amazed by the man's courage and faith, and so he let him go.

In the face of trouble, we too often try to run away, or we turn to worldly solutions. These can never be enough. Instead, we must turn to God and rely on His strength to get us through. True wisdom comes from realizing God's greatness and taking it as a freely given gift into our hearts. We may dwell in safety in the Lord, for He is greater than any trial this world can produce.

prayer: O Lord, receive me into your loving care. Allow me to dwell in the safety you provide. Help me to place you, and you alone, at the center of my life. Amen.
15 January

Our Highest Activity

If the world exists not chiefly that we may love God but that God may love us, yet that very fact, on a deeper level, is so for our sakes. If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed. Before and behind all the relations of God to man, as we now learn them from Christianity, yawns the abyss of a Divine act of pure giving—the election of man, from nonentity, to be the beloved of God, and therefore (in some sense) the needed and desired of God, who but for that act needs and desires nothing, since He eternally has, and is, all goodness. And that act is for our sakes. It is good for us to know love; and best for us to know the love of the best object, God. But to know it as a love in which we were primarily the wooers and God the wooed, in which we sought and He was found, in which His conformity to our needs, not ours to His, came first, would be to know it in a form false to the very nature of things. For we are only creatures: our role must always be that of patient to agent, female to male, mirror to light, echo to voice. Our highest activity must be response, not initiative. To experience the love of God in a true, and not an illusory form, is therefore to experience it as our surrender to His demand, our conformity to His desire: to experience it in the opposite way is, as it were, a solecism against the grammar of being.
—from The Problem of Pain

January 15

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee: so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. (2:1-5).

Following Christ requires our all. In order for us to walk in His footsteps we must be totally dedicated; body, mind and soul. We need to listen carefully to the word of God, and we must learn to apply it. We should spend time in contemplation using our minds to gain a deeper understanding of God's will. We should open our hearts in order to feel God's presence in our lives. We should praise God with our voices and shout His glories. We should talk with other believers and share our questions and experiences.

We devote such great energies to the acquisition of material goods. Wealth is so appealing. Yet, we fail to understand that true wealth comes only through a relationship with God. The knowledge of God is worth more than the finest riches. God desires that we pursue Him with the same devotion that we pursue material gain. Let that be our aim.

prayer: Lord, God, no matter what I own, what I might possess, without you I have nothing. Turn my sight from this world, dear God, and help me to seek only you, body, mind and soul. Amen.
16 January

Our Three Responses to God

It is not simply that God has arbitrarily made us such that He is our only good. Rather God is the only good of all creatures: and by necessity, each must find its good in that kind and degree of the fruition of God which is proper to its nature. The kind and degree may vary with the creature's nature: but that there ever could be any other good, is an atheistic dream. George MacDonald, in a passage I cannot now find, represents God as saying to men, 'You must be strong with my strength and blessed with my blessedness, for I have no other to give you.' That is the conclusion of the whole matter. God gives what He has, not what He has not: He gives the happiness that there is, not the happiness that is not. To be God—to be like God and to share His goodness in creaturely response—to be miserable—these are the only three alternatives. If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows—the only food that any possible universe ever can grow—then we must starve eternally.
—from The Problem of Pain

January 16

For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (2:6).

A man went to college to gain wisdom, but he came away with facts and figures. He turned to business, and he came away with cunning. He tried a craft, and he learned skill with his hands. The man tried pleasure and he gained a feeling of emptiness. The man felt that he would never know wisdom. He grew weary of his search, but one day he stopped at a church. He listened quietly to what was being said, and his heart filled with excitement. His quest came to an end with the simple words, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Often, wisdom comes without great fanfare. It comes to those who wait with open heart and mind. It comes simply and quietly. It comes in the stillness, when God and his Word can get through. Christ is the Word of God. If we will only open our lives to Jesus, the wisdom of God will be ours.

prayer: Open my heart, Almighty God. Give me knowledge which is beyond ordinary knowledge. Teach me more about your love, your Word, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
17 January

Always Now

Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if he knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, here once again, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along the Time-line like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call 'tomorrow' is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call 'today'. All the days are 'Now' for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. he does not 'foresee' you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow's actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already 'Now' for Him.
—from Mere Christianity

January 17

He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk upright (2:7).

A teenage girl found herself continually tempted by her friends to do things she knew she shouldn't. Once she was offered drugs, occasionally she was offered alcohol, often she was approached by boys who tried to take advantage of her. Her constant reply was that she was a Christian. Usually she was made fun of for her faith. One time, however, a friend asked her why her faith made such a difference. The girl replied, "I really want to do what God asks me to. When I do what He wants, I feel better about myself. When I do wrong, I feel terrible. I'd rather feel good inside and have people make fun of me, than feel lousy and give in to temptation."

Faith like that is hard to have. It is easy to give into temptation when it constantly attacks you. But it's good to know that when we resist the temptations that God makes it all worth while. He makes us feel good about ourselves and gives us even more power to resist in the future.

prayer: Dear Father, I am faced by so many temptations. Help me to resist them. Grant that I might rely on your will and power. Be with me in every situation. Amen.
18 January

Just a Bit of Coloured Paper?

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, 'I've no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I'm a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that's just why I don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who's met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!'
Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.
—from Mere Christianity

January 18

He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints (2:8).

A minister friend of mine recently had a heart attack. While awaiting a procedure to unblock a clogged artery his heart began spasming and he felt himself slip into oblivion. Had he not been in the hospital, he would most certainly have died. The doctors were able to revive him and proceed with the operation. Today my friend is fine.

The most memorable part of my friend's story was his assurance that Christ was with him at all times. He knew with a certainty that he was not alone, and that God moved with him every step of the way. He felt God's guidance for the doctors, and he experienced great peace.

The peace is available to us all. God truly watches over all who believe in Him. Learning to trust in God is the greatest comfort we can ever hope to find. No matter what might happen, know that Christ is with you always.

prayer: Thank you for being with me, Almighty God. I need you here in my life. Uphold me and guide me, shine your light before me. Grant me your peace. Amen.
19 January

Traveling Without a Map

Now, Theology is like the map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God—experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion—all about feeling God in nature, and so on—is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work: like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.
—from Mere Christianity

January 19

Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path (2:9).

Jesus Christ selected for himself a band of twelve rough, rugged men to be His disciples. These men knew very little of qualities like gentleness, compassion, kindness, and giving. Prior to Jesus' coming to them they had very little reason to consider any of these traits. Their paths were many, but none would have been considered good. None until Christ came along.

During their three years with Jesus, the disciples learned everything there was to know of these qualities. They came to understand all that Jesus tried to show them. They carried these qualities of goodness into the world and taught others to follow them.

If we will take time to spend with Christ, through prayer, Bible reading and devotion, we too will learn these traits. We will learn to follow the good paths that Jesus followed. This is what it means to be a Christian. The key is in spending time with God in order to learn them.

prayer: Remind me, heavenly Father, that I should spend time with you today and every day. Make me a disciple of yours, anxious to learn all that you would teach me. Amen.
20 January

Gradually the Truth Condenses...

Theology, while saying that a special illumination has been vouchsafed to Christians and (earlier) to Jews, also says that there is some divine illumination vouchsafed to all men. The Divine light, we are told, "lighteneth every man." We should, therefore, expect to find in the imagination of great Pagan teachers and myth makers some glimpse of that theme which we believe to be the very plot of the whole cosmic story—the theme of incarnation, death, and rebirth. And the differences between the Pagan Christs (Balder, Osiris, etc.) and the Christ Himself is much what we should expect to find. The Pagan stories are all about someone dying and rising, either every year, or else nobody knows where and nobody knows when. The Christian story is about a historical personage, whose execution can be dated pretty accurately, under a named Roman magistrate, and with whom the society that He founded is in a continuous relation down to the present day. It is not the difference between falsehood and truth. It is the difference between a real event on the one hand and dim dreams or premonitions of that same event on the other. It is like watching something come gradually into focus; first it hangs in the clouds of myth and ritual, vast and vague, then it condenses, grows hard and in a sense small, as a historical event in first century Palestine.
—from "Is Theology Poetry?" (The Weight of Glory)

January 20

When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee (2:10-11).

When I was in school, I knew a young woman who seemed to have everything she could possibly want. She was a straight-A student, she came from a wealthy background, had wonderful looks and dressed beautifully. Her only drawback was her personality. Though she was friendly, she lacked compassion. When other people hurt, she had no use for them. She had the knack of saying all the wrong things at all the wrong times. As long as the situation required a logical mind, this woman performed excellently, but when it called for a depth of feeling she was bankrupt.

Reason and logic are important traits, but there is something more. Many situations call for feeling, not just thinking. Faith is like that. Paul says we should "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." (Eph. 3:19) It is vital that we learn to think with our hearts, as well as with our heads. This is where true wisdom comes from. This is the understanding which God wants each of us to have.

prayer: Too often, Father, I try to think my way through my problems rather than feeling my way. Open my heart so that I might know Your love in the deepest way possible. Amen.
21 January

From Poetic Myth to Humble Fact

The essential meaning of all things came down from the "heaven" of myth to the "earth" of history. In so doing, it partly emptied itself of its glory, as Christ emptied Himself of His glory to be Man. That is the real explanation of the fact that Theology, far from defeating its rivals by a superior poetry, is, in a superficial but quite real sense, less poetical than they. That is why the New Testament is, in the same sense, less poetical than the Old. Have you not often felt in Church, if the first lesson is some great passage, that the second lesson is somehow small by comparison—almost, if one might say so, humdrum? So it is and so it must be. That is the humiliation of myth into fact, of God into Man; what is everywhere and always, imageless and ineffable, only to be glimpsed in dream and symbol and the acted poetry of ritual becomes small, solid—not bigger than a man who can lie asleep in a rowing boat on the Lake of Galilee. You may say that this, after all, is a still deeper poetry. I will not contradict you. The humiliation leads to a greater glory. But the humiliation of God and the shrinking or condensation of the myth as it becomes fact are also quite real.
—from "Is Theology Poetry?" (The Weight of Glory)

January 21

To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leaves the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked (2:12-14).

I recently visited a woman in the hospital. She didn't seem too happy to see me, and after awhile she let me know why. "God is doing this to me," she said. "He is punishing me because I'm not a church woman. He just waits for someone to make a mistake, then He gets them."

Isn't it strange that people think of God this way? God doesn't want anyone to suffer. He never punishes people arbitrarily. Nor does He turn His sight from those who do wrong. God will finally be the judge of all people, and true justice will be served, but to think that God acts unfairly and without cause is absurd. God loves all human beings and wants the best for them. His love knows no bounds, and when we suffer or struggle, He struggles with us. God is with us in both good times and bad, but He is never to be blamed for our misfortunes. Instead, He is to be praised and thanked for all the wonderful blessings we receive each and every day. There is no place that we can go that God will not be with us. This is the real meaning of blessed assurance. God is with us. Hallelujah!

prayer: O thank you, dear Lord, that I am never out of your sight. You are with me always. Grant that I might feel your presence each and every day. It is good to know I am never alone. Amen.
22 January

God's Remedies

And what did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was—that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.
Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.
—from Mere Christianity

1959 Lewis attends the first meeting of the Commission to Revise the Psalms, at the invitation of Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher.

January 22

For God will deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God (2:16-17).

Society has come up with some wonderful philosophies over the years. "If it feels good do it," "I'm okay, you're okay," "God is dead." Every year there is some new easy belief to buy into. Good, solid beliefs are hard to come by, and they are even harder to hold onto. Someone is always trying to sell us something new to believe in.

It's good to know that God is watching over us and that He is there for us when we turn to Him with our doubts and questions. Prayer is the direct connection that we have with God. When we find ourselves faced with new and different beliefs it is a good idea to take them to God. He will provide the light we need to closely scrutinize different beliefs. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) If we remain committed to our Christian faith, God will help us to see the folly of believing in the easy philosophies offered to us by society. God wants us to come to believe in Him with as few doubts as possible. He will always help us to learn as much as we can when our Christian faith is challenged.

prayer: God, I think that I know what to believe, but new things come up almost every day. Help me to sort out what is right and good to believe, and what is not. Grant me your wisdom. Amen.
23 January

On Authority

There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord's Supper. At least, those are the three ordinary methods. ....
I cannot myself see why these things should be the conductors of the new kind of life. .... But though I cannot see why it should be so, I can tell you why I believe it is so. I have explained why I have to believe that Jesus was (and is) God. And it seems plain as a matter of history that He taught His followers that the new life was communicated in this way. In other words, I believe it on His authority. Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority—because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.
—from Mere Christianity

1926 Lewis gives his first lecture as a don in the English School at Oxford, entitled "Some Eighteenth-Century Precursors of the Romantic Movement."

January 23

For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life (2:18-19).

A young man left for college and found that once on his own it was easy to sleep in on Sunday morning. As the weeks passed, church became a memory, and the young man found himself attracted to different activities, not many of them healthy. By the end of his first year, the young man had no connection left with the church. His grades were terrible, his health was ruined, his friends had all turned from him, and he found himself alone and lonely. He felt helpless and hopeless. The young man took his life and wrote in his parting note, "I have nowhere to turn. No one wants me around. I've even slammed the door on God."

How sad that the young man didn't understand God better. This young man is no different from the prodigal son in Luke's gospel story. God waits for us continually, standing ready with open arms to receive us back to Him. It is important that we know that we can always go back to God. All other paths lead to destruction and pain. How wonderful it is to know that the road to God is never blocked. We cannot do anything to make God stop loving us.

prayer: Thank you, Father, for extending your loving arms to me. If I should stray from your path, guide me back into your sight and care. I never want to be without You in my life. Amen.
24 January

Finding Comfort

All I am doing is to ask people to face the facts—to understand the questions which Christianity claims to answer. And they are very terrifying facts. I wish it was possible to say something more agreeable. But I must say what I think true. Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
—from Mere Christianity

January 24

That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous (2:20).
I knew a little boy who was always good when his mother was watching him, but whenever she was out of sight he was a terror. His mother thought he was the perfect child because he never gave her any problems. Other children never wanted him around, though. The other children's parents tried to explain to the boy's mother how her son behaved when she was away, but she would not listen to them.
The woman finally opened her eyes and caught on to the way her son often behaved. She was amazed at the way her son worked so skillfully to impress her by his good behavior. We are often like that young boy when it comes to our relationship with God. When we think that God is watching us we are on our best behavior, but when we forget that He is there, we misbehave. It is as we grow in our knowledge of God's presence in our lives that it is easier to walk the path of righteousness. When we realize that He is with us every moment of every day we are compelled to live good and upright lives. We must admit our weakness and that we need God to motivate us when we will not motivate ourselves to right living.
prayer: Guide my steps, O Lord, that I might always, in every way, be found pleasing in your sight. Grant me special insight that I might recognize your presence in my life. Amen.
25 January

We Couldn't Make It Up

Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect. For instance, when you have grasped that the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planets were made to match—all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go further from the sun. In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (that we can see) about either the sizes or the distances; and some of them have one moon, one has four, one has two, some have none, and one has a ring.
Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.
—from Mere Christianity

January 1917 Lewis (age eighteen) returns to Great Bookham, Surrey, and William T. Kirkpatrick ("the Great Knock") to prepare for Responsions, the entrance examination for Oxford University.

January 25

For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it (2:21).

My grandmother had a special cedar box that she kept all of her prized possessions in. I used to sit with her at the kitchen table as she would unwrap her treasures. There were old pictures, coins, gems, a lock of hair, a ribbon from a long passed contest, a pair of old glasses, a hand carved spinning top, and a dozen other knick-knacks. My grandmother would tell the story of each and every one, and the love and affection she shared with those memories will stay with me all of my life.

I think God is a little like that. We are His treasures, and He has set aside a special place for us. Each of us brings forth a feeling of love and affection from God, and He cherishes each one of us. We are each one precious in the good Lord's sight, and He knows our individual stories by heart. It is good to know that God loves us so much that He will keep us for all time in a very special place that He has made especially for us. The future glory that awaits all Christian believers is beyond our wildest imagination, and yet we can rest assured that it will far outshine anything we have yet experienced.

prayer: Thank you, Lord, that I am one of your prized possessions. Keep me ever in your care, and cover me with your divine love and affection. I praise you for your love and I will try to be a fond remembrance in your heart. Amen.
26 January

Not Like a River but Like a Tree

We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.
—from The Great Divorce, Preface

1942 The Oxford University Socratic Club, Somerville College, Oxford, holds its first meeting. Lewis serves as its first president.

January 26

But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it (2:22).

So often it seems like the evil will inherit the earth, rather than the meek. Bad people with evil intentions appear blessed in many ways that good people are not. It is a hard lesson to learn that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Often it would be so nice to see the unkind, cruel, hateful people get what they deserve. Like God's people throughout history, we cry out for God to bring justice upon the heads of our persecutors.

In due time God will do just that. God's time is not our time, however, and we must learn to be patient and wait. God offers us a helpful suggestion in waiting for justice to come. Jesus says, "Judge not, lest ye be judged. Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" It is easy to sit back and hope for other people to receive their just desserts, but what God wants us to do is make sure that we are doing everything that we should be doing. Justice is God's responsibility. Ours is to do those things which we know are pleasing to God, and to avoid doing the things which He dislikes — like judging our neighbor.

prayer: Help me to be patient, and to turn from bitter feelings toward those who do wrong. Let me love them with your love, and help me to look at my own life to see that it is pleasing in your sight. Amen.
27 January

Being Good

Even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting in his own stream—he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. And that has practical consequences. As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot towards repairing that body. Cut it, and up to a point it will heal, as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out.
That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or—if they think there is not—at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.
—from Mere Christianity

1964 Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

January 27

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee (3:1-2).

It is easy to see the Bible as a book of "don'ts" rather than a book of "do's." The "Thou shalt not's" far exceed the "Thou shalt's." This is not a way for God to control us, for there is nothing farther from His intention than that, but it is merely a show of His great love for us that He offers these instructions to us in order to make our lives better. Our God is a God of order and sense. He knows infinitely more than we can ever hope to, and He shares His knowledge with us to help us through our lives.

If we can learn to be obedient to the will of God we will find that life becomes a little easier to live, and a lot more fulfilling. Life ceases to be such a struggle, and it becomes a joy. God sent Christ to fight the battle for us. He has become the victor, our victor. To His disciples Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you." He says the same to us. If we can learn to be more obedient to God, this peace and assurance will be ours throughout our entire lives.

prayer: Dear God, help me that I might learn to rest in your peace. Life can be so difficult, and I know I cannot handle everything on my own. Be with me, guiding me, and helping me to follow your commandments always. Amen.
28 January

Finding a Balance

Screwtape offers ways to cleverly exploit the Patient's dry spell:
But there is an even better way of exploiting the trough; I mean through the patient's own thoughts about it. As always, the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind. Do not let him suspect the law of undulation. Let him assume that the first ardours of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his present dryness is an equally permanent condition. Having once got this misconception well fixed in his head, you may then proceed in various ways. It all depends on whether your man is of the desponding type who can be tempted to despair, or of the wishful-thinking type who can be assured that all is well. The former type is getting rare among the humans. If your patient should happen to belong to it, everything is easy. You have only got to keep him out of the way of experienced Christians (an easy task nowadays), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours. If he is of the more hopeful type your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about 'moderation in all things'. If you can once get him to the point of thinking that 'religion is all very well up to a point', you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.
—from The Screwtape Letters

January 28

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart (3:3).

Recent movies and books have presented us with a new kind of hero. This hero, male or female, is tough, violent, strong, and cunning. They use few words, usually carry big guns, and they show no mercy. The reason these kinds of heroes are popular is that they mete out vengeance to any and all who do wrong. They wipe out the oppressors, they defend the meek, and they refuse to let the bad guys win. In other words, they symbolize the ideal that good will always triumph over evil.

The problem is, the good they offer is little better than the evil they destroy. Violence begets violence, and the one who shows no mercy shall receive no mercy. "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." It is not a good thing when men and women take the law into their own hands. We are guided by a higher law: the law of God. The Beatitudes proclaim the virtues that God most respects. We are called to be loving people, who have faith in a God who will provide perfect justice at the end of time. We, as Christian, should take seriously the qualities that God wants us to have, and truly "write them upon the table of thine heart."

prayer: Dear Lord, teach me your love, your forgiveness, your mercy, and your truth. Make Christ my one true hero, and let me follow his ways all the days of my life. Amen.
29 January

A Slip of the Tongue

"O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, through being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Not long ago when I was using the collect for the fourth Sunday after Trinity in my private prayers I found that I had made a slip of the tongue. I had meant to pray that I might so pass through things temporal that I finally lost not the things eternal; I found I had prayed so to pass through things eternal that I finally lost not the things temporal. Of course, I don't think that a slip of the tongue is a sin. I am not sure that I am even a strict enough Freudian to believe that all such slips, without exception, are deeply significant. But I think some of them are significant, and I thought this was one of that sort. I thought that what I had inadvertently said very nearly expressed something I had really wished.
Very nearly; not, of course, precisely. I had never been quite stupid enough to think that the eternal could, strictly, be "passed through." What I had wanted to pass through without prejudice to my things temporal was those hours or moments in which I attended to the eternal, in which I exposed myself to it.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

1899 Clive Staples ("Jack") Lewis baptized in St. Mark's, Belfast, by his grandfather, the Reverend Thomas Hamilton, Rector of St. Mark's.

1956 Lewis delivers his last sermon, "A Slip of the Tongue," in the chapel of Magdalene College (Cambridge) at Evensong.

January 29

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (3:5).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ caused so much difficulty for his disciples. They had finally gotten themselves used to the fact that Christ was gone, then, quite suddenly, he reappeared. Logical, rational thinking told the disciples that what they saw could not be true. According to what they knew to be reality, Christ was dead, and nothing could change that. God however, defies logic and often transcends what we perceive to be reality.

The reality of the resurrected Christ was there for all to see. It was not until the disciples accepted as fact what they could not fully understand, that they were transformed into the foundation builders of the Christian church.

That same resurrected Christ can transform us today. If we will just learn to accept a God who is greater and more powerful than the limits of our minds can grasp, we will begin to experience God more fully. Faith is not without reason, but it is always beyond reason.

PRAYER: Help me, Father, to accept what I do not understand, to believe that which I cannot see, and to trust that which is beyond my comprehension. Amen.
30 January

Proceed with Great Caution

I mean this sort of thing. I say my prayers, I read a book of devotion, I prepare for, or receive, the Sacrament. But while I do these things, there is, so to speak, a voice inside me that urges caution. It tells me to be careful, to keep my head, not to go too far, not to burn my boats. I come into the presence of God with a great fear lest anything should happen to me within that presence which will prove too intolerably inconvenient when I have come out again into my "ordinary" life. I don't want to be carried away into any resolution which I shall afterwards regret. For I know I shall be feeling quite different after breakfast; I don't want anything to happen to me at the altar which will run up too big a bill to pay then. It would be very disagreeable, for instance, to take the duty of charity (while I am at the altar) so seriously that after breakfast I had to tear up the really stunning reply I had written to an impudent correspondent yesterday and meant to post today. It would be very tiresome to commit myself to a programme of temperance which would cut off my after-breakfast cigarette (or, at best, make it cruelly alternative to a cigarette later in the morning). Even repentance of past acts will have to be paid for. By repenting, one acknowledges them as sins—therefore not to be repeated. Better leave that issue undecided.
The root principle of all these precautions is the same: to guard the things temporal.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

January 30

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (3:6).

A young athlete won Olympic acclaim and he was asked to comment on his success. His response was, "I knew I would be my best, because God ran with me every step of the way." The sports commentator incredulously asked, "You don't mean to say that you think God helped you win today, do you?" The young man thought for a minute, then said, "If not for God I would not be here today, I would not have the equipment necessary to run and to train, I would not know the meaning of commitment, and I would not feel any need to be the best person I can be. For that reason I said that God ran with me. I could not have won today without God."

What a wonderful statement of faith. All too often we miss God in our everyday lives. From the simple fact of our existence, to the miracle of the life we have been given, to the talents we each possess, we should always be aware of God's presence in our lives and in our world. When we acknowledge Him in our lives, we can rest assured that he will be with us no matter what we do. What great comfort there is in knowing that God is with us to help make us the best people we can be.

PRAYER: Though I may stumble through my life at times, O Lord, help me to know that you are with me to pick me up and to light my way. Alone, I am nothing. With you, I will never fail. Amen.
31 January

My Lifeline to the Temporal

This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with my things temporal.
It is different from the temptations that met us at the beginning of the Christian life. Then we fought (at least I fought) against admitting the claims of the eternal at all. And when we had fought, and been beaten, and surrendered, we supposed that all would be fairly plain sailing. This temptation comes later. It is addressed to those who have already admitted the claim in principle and are even making some sort of effort to meet it. Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

January 1919 Lewis joins and is elected secretary of the Martlet Society, a literary society at University College, Oxford.

January 31

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (3:7-8).

A law student looked for honors and approval from his professors and his peers. His motivation was to "look good" in all that he did. He pursued unbelievably high standards, and when he eventually failed, he was crushed. All of his work to come out on top provided him with nothing. He left law school feeling cheated, a failure.

It is easy to fall into a trap of trying to live up to society's standards. We try to look good for other people. We play at popularity games and try to impress others with our position and prestige. This is sad, because who we should really be trying to please is God. He has created each of us with special gifts and talents, and it is His will that we do nothing more than live up to the potential He created for us. We don't have to try to be something we're not with God. He knows us better than we know ourselves. What is important for us to do is find out who we really are and try to remain true to that identity. God loves us just as we are, and as long as we believe that God knows what He is doing, then we can be satisfied with ourselves as He created us.

prayer: Lord, help me to realize my potential. Make me less a person-pleaser, and more a God-pleaser. Grant that I might discover my gifts and talents, then assist me to use them as you would have them used. Amen.
1 February

Swimming Lessons Are Better

And notice that those cautions which the tempter whispers in our ears are all plausible. Indeed, I don't think he often tries to deceive us (after early youth) with a direct lie. The plausibility is this. It is really possible to be carried away by religious emotion—enthusiasm as our ancestors called it—into resolutions and attitudes which we shall, not sinfully but rationally, not when we are more worldly but when we are wiser, have cause to regret. We can become scrupulous or fanatical; we can, in what seems zeal but is really resumption, embrace tasks never intended for us. That is the truth in the temptation. The lie consists in the suggestion that our best protection is a prudent regard for the safety of our pocket, our habitual indulgences, and our ambitions. But that is quite false. Our real protection is to be sought elsewhere: in common Christian usage, in moral theology, in steady rational thinking, in the advice of good friends and good books, and (if need be) in a skilled spiritual director. Swimming lessons are better than a lifeline to the shore.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

1918 Lewis (age nineteen) is hospitalized with trench fever at Le Treport, France, for one month.

February 1

Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst fourth with new wine (3:9-10).

Two men stood at the gate of a great city. While they waited, a poor woman came to them asking for a few coins with which she could buy bread for her children. The first man scowled at the woman and said, "I work hard for my money. I give of my own time, and my own labor. I earn what I reap. Go and do the same for yourself and your family!" The woman began to walk away, but the other man followed after her and said, "Poor woman, take this money, for it is not really mine. I do work hard for it, but it is by God's grace that I have it at all. He gave me the talents I possess, He gave me my strength and knowledge, and He has given to us all the lives we have to live. If I gave to you, I simply give to God what He has provided."

It is good to remember that without God we would not possess the things we do. All things come to us from God, and it is good that we share them. Jesus told the people that whenever they came to the aid of another person in need, they were in fact aiding Him. True prosperity comes only when we learn to give to others as freely as God gives to us.

prayer: Oh Father, soften my heart to those who are less fortunate than I am. Help me to appreciate the blessings I have been given, and to share from my abundance. Fill me with the new wine, which is your Spirit. Amen.
2 February

Just a Bit of My Own, Please

For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. For each of us the Baptist's words are true: "He must increase and I decrease." He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing "of our own" left over to live on, no "ordinary" life. I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That's as may be. For some (nobody knows which) the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God's hands. In a perfect Christian they would be as much part of his "religion," his "service," as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts. What cannot be admitted—what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy—is the idea of something that is "our own," some area in which we are to be "out of school," on which God has no claim.
For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There's no bargaining with Him.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

February 2

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (3:11-12).

A college youth moved to a new town and began attending a large Eastern university. The boy had been an outstanding high school basketball star, and so he anxiously awaited try-outs for the college team. On the first day of try-outs the young man was astounded at how tough and mean the coach was. The young man made the team and experienced the most strenuous training of his career. Hour after hour he was drilled by the coach, and whenever he made an error the coach was right there to make him correct it. The team played exceptionally well, and went to the NCAA championships. Though the young man didn't care much for the way the coach treated the players, he had to admit that the coach got great results.

It is rarely easy to accept criticism and correction, and yet it is important that we heed the word of those wiser than ourselves in order to grow and improve. Often the words we heed may seem harsh or unfair, but if they are offered out of love and concern, then they may turn into the sweetest sounds we ever hear.

prayer: Lord, let me hear the instructions you know I should hear. Tell me what I must do to grow, and give me the acceptance to deal with those things I would rather avoid. Spare not the rod, but do what You know is best for me. Amen.
3 February

Count the Cost

Law in his terrible, cool, voice, said, .... "If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead." Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?
It is a remarkable fact that on this subject Heaven and Hell speak with one voice. The tempter tells me, "Take care. Think how much this good resolve, the acceptance of this Grace, is going to cost." But Our Lord equally tells us to count the cost. Even in human affairs great importance is attached to the agreement of those whose testimony hardly ever agrees. Here, more. Between them it would seem to be pretty clear that paddling [near the shore] is of little consequence. What matters, what Heaven desires and Hell fears, is precisely that further step, out of our depth, out of our own control.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

February 3

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding: for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold (3:13-14).

There was a man who genuinely had a "Midas touch." Everything he ever tried was a great success. He had a wonderful job which gave him fulfillment, and he spent long hours working. He was obsessed by the challenge of taking what he had and turning it into more. He amassed enormous wealth and spent all his free time working on investment schemes and plans for gaining still more. He was perfectly happy living life this way, until one day he found he had a terminal condition, and no amount of money could do anything to save him. The man had never faced adversity in his life and he was unused to failure. His whole world collapsed.

How sad it is when we build our world on material possessions rather than the possessions of the heart. The greatest thing we can ever hope to hold is the love and understanding of God. This is the greatest treasure possible. It is tempting to pursue the glitter of gold and silver, but more importantly we should seek after God. In Him our every need will be met, and should adversity befall us, we will always have what it takes to cope with it.

prayer: You are the only true treasure, Almighty God. In your love there is no need, no want. Fill me with the true treasure of your Spirit. Help me to know you in all ways. Amen.
4 February

Begin Again Daily

I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, this fatal reservation. Only God can. I have good faith and hope He will. Of course, I don't mean I can therefore, as they say, "sit back." What God does for us, He does in us. The process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude, especially each morning, for it grows all over me like a new shell each night. Failures will be forgiven; it is acquiescence that is fatal, the permitted, regularised presence of an area in ourselves which we still claim for our own. We may never, this side of death, drive the invader out of our territory, but we must be in the Resistance, not in the Vichy government. And this, so far as I can yet see, must be begun again every day. Our morning prayer should be that in the Imitation: Da hodie perfecte incipere—grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet.
—from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

February 4

She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her (3:15).

A young woman struggled for years to get a management position with a large corporation. She put out excellent work and finally it paid off. She began to travel and new opportunities opened up for her. Everything seemed to be going the way she always dreamed it might. Her success appeared to be complete.

Then she found out that the corporation was involved in some illegal activities. As time passed she realized that the business was deeply involved in terrible acts of cruelty and unethical practices. The young woman had always been a Christian and she was doubly sensitive to the wrongful acts. Faced with such revelations of the corporation's illegal dealings, she found herself with no alternative but to quit.

It is refreshing to know that some people still take their moral values seriously enough to let them rule their lives. It would have been simple for the woman to look the other way and pretend she didn't know what was happening. Instead, she let her heart, governed by the truth of Christ, be her guide. A right relationship with God will always be worth more than personal gain. No greater treasure can be found.

prayer: Lord, I so often pursue selfish goals. Help me to remember that nothing in life has value if I do not have a good relationship with you. Be with me, I pray. Amen.
5 February

A Critical Distinction

All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that 'God is love'. But they seem not to notice that the words 'God is love' have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often some- thing quite different: they really mean 'Love is God'. They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement 'God is love'. They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.
And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.
—from Mere Christianity

February 5

Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor (3:16).

Wisdom—the knowledge of God—is a gift from God. He gives it to all people who come to Him seeking true understanding. He will not deny it to anyone, but He will give it in small enough portions to enable the individual to make sense of it. As a person comes to know God better, he or she will avoid those activities which are self-destructive and unprofitable. The person receives a deeper appreciation of the wonder of God in the world. Life becomes more meaningful and the person gains a new understanding of what it means to be a success.

Life is a privilege which God wants us to value. When we turn from Him and pursue our own selfish desires, we lose sight of the sacredness of His gift. We may think that we can find fulfillment in life on our own, but it is through God and God alone that we can come to know the wonder of life most fully. God is the author of life, and He will bless us with its richness if we will only let Him. A full and happy life, rich in meaning and honorable in all ways, is the prize of any believer who will keep God centered in his or her life.

PRAYER: Help me to see the beauty and wonder of this life you have given to me, O Lord. Open my eyes so that I might come to know the richness and fullness you intend my life to have. Grant me this, I pray. Amen.
6 February

Father and Son

We must think of the Son always, so to speak, streaming forth from the Father, like light from a lamp, or heat from a fire, or thoughts from a mind. He is the self-expression of the Father—what the Father has to say. And there never was a time when He was not saying it. But have you noticed what is happening? All these pictures of light or heat are making it sound as if the Father and Son were two things instead of two Persons. So that after all, the New Testament picture of a Father and a Son turns out to be much more accurate than anything we try to substitute for it. That is what always happens when you go away from the words of the Bible. It is quite right to go away from them for a moment in order to make some special point clear. But you must always go back. Naturally God knows how to describe Himself much better than we know how to describe Him. He knows that Father and Son is more like the relation between the First and Second Persons than anything else we can think of. Much the most important thing to know is that it is a relation of love. The Father delights in His Son; the Son looks up to His Father.
—from Mere Christianity

February 6

She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her (3:18).

In the Garden of Eden stood two trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. There were other trees, but these were the two most important. God forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, but they disobeyed and ate from it anyway. The story goes that Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden due to their disobedience. Was it for punishment that God made Adam and Eve leave the Garden, or was it mercy?

God doesn't want any of us to suffer, especially eternally. His action with Adam and Eve made it impossible for them to eat from the Tree of eternal Life, thus insuring that they could not live forever in their fallen state. In His infinite love, God provided us with another way. He gave us a new Tree of Life, His Son Jesus Christ.

Christ died to undo the harm done by Adam and Eve's disobedience. Once He reconciled us to God, God invited us to once more share in the fruit of the Tree of Life. Through Christ, we have the promise of eternity in God's heavenly home. It is with this promise that we truly attain wisdom.

prayer: Thank you, O Lord, for giving me the chance to have eternal life. Through your love in the life, death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, I have come to know your glory. Amen.
7 February

The Spirit of God

The union between the Father and the Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person. I know this is almost inconceivable, but look at it thus. You know that among human beings, when they get together in a family, or a club, or a trade union, people talk about the 'spirit' of that family, or club, or trade union. They talk about its 'spirit' because the individual members, when they are together, do really develop particular ways of talking and behaving which they would not have if they were apart. It is as if a sort of communal personality came into existence. Of course, it is not a real person: it is only rather like a person. But that is just one of the differences between God and us. What grows out of the joint life of the Father and Son is a real Person, is in fact the Third of the three Persons who are God.
This third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the 'spirit' of God. Do not be worried or surprised if you find it (or Him) rather vaguer or more shadowy in your mind than the other two. I think there is a reason why that must be so. In the Christian life you are not usually looking at Him. He is always acting through you. If you think of the Father as something 'out there', in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as something inside you, or behind you. Perhaps some people might find it easier to begin with the third Person and work backwards. God is love, and that love works through men—especially through the whole community of Christians. But this spirit of love is, from all eternity, a love going on between the Father and the Son.
—from Mere Christianity

February 7

The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew (3:19-20).

The word "miracle" sounds strange in this day and age. We have become too sophisticated to accept miracles anymore. It is sad that we have lost such a wonderful idea. A miracle used to be an event which was beyond simple explanation and understanding. Many people say that miracles don't happen anymore, if they ever did.

If only people would open their hearts and begin looking more deeply than they are able with their eyes alone. When we see a beautiful sunset, it affects more than just our eyes. When we ponder the wonder of human life at birth, we are experiencing much more than a mere sensory event. The nighttime sky, the pounding surf of the ocean, the laughter of a child: all of these are miracles in a sense, and all of them are evidence of the wonder of God. It is a special joy to see the world with eyes open to miracles, and to feel life with a heart attuned to God's love. If we understand God, then we must believe in His miracles.

prayer: Make me a believer, Lord. Show me the multitude of miracles you have created and are creating. Let me understand creation the way you intended it. Amen.
8 February

Ever New Constructions

Screwtape considers the value of pursuing the "historical Jesus":
You will find that a good many Christian-political writers think that Christianity began going wrong, and departing from the doctrine of its Founder, at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a 'historical Jesus' to be found by clearing away later 'accretions and perversions' and then to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a 'historical Jesus' on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a new 'historical Jesus' on Marxian, catastrophic, and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold. In the first place they all tend to direct men's devotion to something which does not exist, for each 'historical Jesus' is unhistorical. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to; each new 'historical Jesus' therefore has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts, in every publisher's autumn list.
—from The Screwtape Letters

February 8

My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble (3:21-23).

A businesswoman impressed everyone she met with her poise and confidence. Whenever there was an important decision to be made, she didn't even hesitate. Her co-workers came to her for her advice and counsel. She built a reputation for her calm manner and smooth, level head. She instilled trust in everyone she met.

Once she was asked why she was so sure of herself. Her reply? "I grew up being taught to trust. I trust that God is always with me, and knowing that, I can trust that He will help me make good choices. Even though I might make mistakes, I trust that God will always bring good from them."

This is the kind of faith God wants us all to have. Life is less of a burden when we realize that God will be there to bring good from every situation. God is unchanging. His good works continue today and forever. Trust in the knowledge that God will never leave. He is with us in all things.

prayer: Help me to believe, to trust, to know. Cast away my doubts, and reassure me that no matter what might happen, you will always be with me. Stand beside me as I grow in faith, and grant me your peace. Amen.
9 February

With a Bit of Coaxing

Screwtape, on manipulating the "historical Jesus":
The 'historical Jesus' then, however dangerous He may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged. About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist's shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that 'only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations'. You see the little rift? 'Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.' That's the game.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1942 The Screwtape Letters is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

February 9

My son, let them not depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet (3:21,24).

A doctor had been practicing medicine for a number of years, when he found that he couldn't sleep at night. After a long successful career, the doctor suddenly felt that his work was futile and senseless. As hard as he tried, he could not save everyone he treated. Many of the people he treated never got any better. His early dreams of healing those who were in pain and suffered began to fail. Night after night he tossed and turned, struggling to make peace with what he felt was failure.

An understanding of God, and what God wants from us as his children, can help us to have calm nights. No human being can take responsibility for life and death. God gave life, and He is the ruler of all life. For some people God has chosen to allow them to assist in the healing process. He has given men and women the minds and talents to save and sustain life, yet it is always God who ultimately makes the decision of who will live and who will die. Our responsibility is to use our gifts and talents to the best of our abilities. If we will try to do so, we can count on God's richest blessing.

prayer: Help me, Father, to utilize the wonderful gifts and graces that you have seen fit to grant me. Bless me as I attempt to be the best person I can be, the person you made me to be. Amen.
10 February

Unequal Love

It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense—if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining—then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls, then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love. It may be that He loves all equally—He certainly loved all to the death—and I am not certain what the expression means. If there is equality, it is in His love, not in us.
Equality is a quantitative term and therefore love often knows nothing of it. Authority exercised with humility and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live. Even in the life of the affections, much more in the Body of Christ, we step outside that world which says "I am as good as you." It is like turning from a march to a dance. It is like taking off our clothes. We become, as Chesterton said, taller when we bow; we become lowlier when we instruct. It delights me that there should be moments in the services of my own Church when the priest stands and I kneel. As democracy becomes more complete in the outer world and opportunities for reverence are successively removed, the refreshment, the cleansing, and invigorating returns to inequality, which the Church offers us, become more and more necessary.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

1945 Lewis reads "Membership" to the Society of St. Alban and St. Sergius, Oxford.

February 10

Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken (3:25-26).

A teacher returned to her classroom to find chaos had broken out. Paper, pencils and erasers were flying through the air, pictures were drawn on the blackboards and walls, children were running all around the room, and the noise was deafening. One little girl sat quietly in the back corner, refusing to enter into the mischief. As the teacher began to scold the class, she remembered the little girl who was well-behaved. After class, she pulled the young child aside and told her how much it meant to her that she had remained silent and obedient.

Often we feel as though our good acts are missed. When we don't receive credit and acclaim, we feel cheated. What we need to remember is that none of our actions go unnoticed by God. He sees our every move, and he applauds us when we refuse to do those things that we know we should not, but that our society seems to approve of. Our reward will never come from this life, but from the life that awaits us with our heavenly Father. His blessing is ever with us if we will only be patient and believe.

prayer: Father, often I feel as though my good behavior is ignored or forgotten. Forgive me for being prideful, and help me to know that you see me at both my best and worst, and love me all the time. Amen.
11 February

A Good Infection

And now, what does it all matter? It matters more than anything else in the world. The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?
—from Mere Christianity

February 11

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee (3:27-28).

Recently I had a flat tire while I was on a busy interstate. I tried to flag down passing cars, hoping for some assistance. Hundreds of cars passed without even slowing down. I began to think of all the times I had passed motorists in distress and I didn't have the time or the inclination to help them. I felt a little guilty, and it made me much more understanding of those who whizzed past. It also made me much more appreciative of the help when it came.

We are given so many opportunities to help other people in need in our lives. It is important that we reach out and take hold of those chances. Jesus said that every time we help any person in need, it is as if we have done it for Christ Himself. It is easy to decide whether or not we would help Christ. Should it be any more difficult to decide whether or not we should help other of God's children, especially when Christ equated them to Himself? If we have the means to help those in need, there really is no choice. We are called to serve others as Christ was willing to serve us. We must do this whenever we see the opportunity.

prayer: Lord, so often I turn my head from those in need. Open my eyes and my heart that I might reach out to them, to extend the hand of Christ to those who themselves are Christ. Amen.
12 February

What Christianity Offers

Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call 'good infection'. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.
—from Mere Christianity

February 12

Devise not evil against thy neighbor, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee (3:29).

"Who is my neighbor?" It is a question that we ask ourselves all the time. Christ calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Though this sounds easy, it doesn't take long to discover that it is not. Not all of our "neighbors" are lovable people. Is the man who commits murder our neighbor? Is the man who deals drugs or the youth who takes them? Are the people who persecute us our neighbors? Christ's answer to all of these questions would be, "yes!"

If another person does wrong, then God will ultimately judge that person accordingly. We do not have that right. God is interested in our ability to become like Him. Christ gave us a model to follow, and He loved some of the most unlovable characters of His day. We need to do likewise. If we rely on our own powers to love the unlovable we will fail miserably, but with the love of Christ centered deeply in our hearts, we will be able to love even our enemies.

prayer: God, help me to learn love for all people. Let me give of myself and sacrifice my own pride in order to serve other people. Your love is the greatest force on earth. With your help I can come to know unconditional love, and I can come to be able to give it away. Fill me, Father, with a caring that will never end. I pray this in Christ's most holy name. Amen.
13 February

The Absurd Claim

We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history.
Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is 'humble and meek' and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.
—from Mere Christianity

February 13

Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm (3:30).

There was a man in my church who argued about everything. If something was said from the pulpit that he disagreed with, he could hardly wait until the pastor was at the back door so he could tell him. At committee meetings he would share his view whether it was constructive or not. People began to dread having him around, and many people did everything they could to avoid him. Finally, a woman from the church could stand it no more. She spoke to the man, kindly, and told him that he was alienating other members of the congregation. To his credit, the man tried to stop being so argumentative, and he worked at being more positive.

Senseless argument and criticism is destructive. It makes people uncomfortable. It also divides people so that they cannot communicate with each other. There is never anything to be gained by causing tension with other people without cause. There is enough argument and strife in the world without Christians adding to it senselessly. It is not enough that Christians try to do good. It is also vital that they always strive to do no harm.

prayer: O Lord, guide me as I try to live a good and righteous life. Help me to both do good to those around me, and guard me that I do no harm. I want so much to do what I should. With your help I will. Amen.
14 February

Not a Matter of Opinion

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
—from Mere Christianity

February 14

Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways (3:31).

A young Mexican immigrant worked in a midwestern tomato plantation for meager wages. His foreman was a hard man who drove his workers to the point of exhaustion. The young man worked diligently, saving every cent he made, vowing that he would become successful and powerful. Daily he saw the foreman sit in the shade with a cool drink, and he dreamed of a day when he too could bask in the shade while others labored in the hot sun. After many years his dream came true. He rose in favor with the plantation owners, and he was put in charge of some of the fields. He tried to be hard and stern, and to lounge in the shade drinking cool drinks, but he found he was unhappy. No one liked or respected him, and he felt guilty because he knew how hard the laborers worked. He attained his dream, but found nothing in it but emptiness.

There is nothing to be gained by envying those who are in places of authority over us. We may find that we are mistreated, but it is far better to endure minor suffering rather than do that which is displeasing to God. God wants us to choose not to follow the ways of the oppressor, but in all things to choose Him.

prayer: Father, please help me to walk in the way of the humble and meek. Keep me from straying into pride and envy. Help me to see the blessings I have been given, rather than long for the things I must do without. Amen.
15 February

No Shortage of Good Ideas

When you get down to it, is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this: that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that if only we took His advice we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war? Now, mind you, that is quite true. But it tells you much less than the whole truth about Christianity and it has no practical importance at all.
It is quite true that if we took Christ's advice we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that Plato or Aristotle or Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what? We never have followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why are we more likely to follow Christ than any of the others? Because He is the best moral teacher? But that makes it even less likely that we shall follow Him. If we cannot take the elementary lessons, is it likely we are going to take the most advanced one? If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.
—from Mere Christianity

1908 Lewis's mother, Flora Lewis, undergoes major cancer surgery.

February 15

For the froward is abomination to the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous (3:32).

There is something exciting and pleasing about being in on a secret. When we are told secrets, it shows that we are trusted and esteemed. It makes us special. It sets us apart. God has made us privy to a very special secret. We have been given information which can change our lives. That secret is simple, yet powerful. God is love, and with Him all things are possible.

This doesn't seem like much of a secret, but it is amazing how many people act as though they are not in on it. For those people who devote themselves to loving and following God, this secret is the greatest joy of their lives. For those who don't know it, it comes as the greatest disappointment and torment when it is revealed. God offers this secret to all people, and it is the obligation of everyone who knows it to share it with as many other people as they can. The secret that God gives to the righteous is a secret that He wants the whole world to share. The greatest desire of God is a day when the secret the righteous share will no longer be a secret. It will be a truth that is known by all.

prayer:Lord grant that I might always and everywhere share the blessed secret of your love with everyone I meet. Make me a true disciple of yours, spreading your love and gospel throughout my world. Amen.
16 February

Two Quick Clarifications

The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what every one, at bottom, had always known to be right. Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that. As Dr. Johnson said, 'People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.' The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump or bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirk.
The second thing to get clear is that Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying 'Do as you would be done by' to a particular society at a particular moment. It could not have. It is meant for all men at all times and the particular programme which suited one place or time would not suit another. And, anyhow, that is not how Christianity works. When it tells you to feed the hungry it does not give you lessons in cookery. When it tells you to read the Scriptures it does not give you lessons in Hebrew and Greek, or even in English grammar. It was never intended to replace or supersede the ordinary human arts and sciences: it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which will give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal.
—from Mere Christianity

February 16

The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just (3:33).

I have had the pleasure of knowing one of the most faithful families around. The entire family is an inspiration. The mother and father are two of the most loving, caring, devoted people I know, and their two teenage daughters possess a powerful faith and charming personalities. Their home is a haven of peace and comfort. They are always entertaining company, because all who enter their home feel the special warmth and joy.

The family is quick to acknowledge that their love and unity comes from one source and one source only. They are bound together through the love of Christ. In homes where Christ is king and ruler, it is easy to feel God's blessing. There is no conflict or problem that can upset the blessing that God puts upon a faithful household. There is a special peace which God offers to those people who draw upon His love in order to share it with others. Before we can hope to spread the love of God in our own private worlds, we must first learn to spread it in our own homes, with our own families. It is often harder to keep peace and care with those closest to us, but with God's help it can be the most blessed peace of all.

prayer: Come, O Lord, to be the head of my household, and the unifier in my family. Let my home be a haven of comfort and joy. Let my love for those closest to me be the special love that you alone can give. Amen.
17 February

Bad Gas

God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended—civilisations are built up—excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back in to misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to us humans.
—from Mere Christianity

February 17

The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools (3:35).

A young minister was involved in a dozen programs in his community. Each one of them was well publicized and brought him honor and acclaim. As his reputation grew within his community, his congregation grew annoyed at the lack of time he spent with church affairs. The church members felt that his first responsibility was with them, and as time passed they lost their faith in him. Before long, they asked him to leave the church. His successor was a faithful man who served well in both the church and the community. He never looked for acclaim or recognition, but his fine work spoke for itself. He was well loved and highly respected all of his days.

The truly faithful person doesn't have to go seeking acclaim. It will come to them simply because of the commitment they exhibit. When we pursue recognition, we open ourselves to failure and disgrace. It is better to focus on the work that we need to do, rather than the credit we will receive for doing it. Christ never looked for personal acclaim, but all He did was for the glory of God. As committed Christians, it is important that we also learn to live our lives not for ourselves, but always to the glory of God.

prayer: Destroy in me, O Lord, the desire to do things which make me look good. Rather, let me do things to your glory. Help me to be the person you want me to be, not selfish or vain, but more like Christ in every way. Amen.
18 February

Competition Rather Than Courtesy

If the fixed nature of matter prevents it from being always, and in all its dispositions, equally agreeable even to a single soul, much less is it possible for the matter of the universe at any moment to be distributed so that it is equally convenient and pleasurable to each member of a society. If a man travelling in one direction is having a journey down hill, a man going in the opposite direction must be going up hill. If even a pebble lies where I want it to lie, it cannot, except by a coincidence, be where you want it to lie. And this is very far from being an evil: on the contrary, it furnishes occasion for all those acts of courtesy, respect, and unselfishness by which love and good humour and modesty express themselves. But it certainly leaves the way open to a great evil, that of competition and hostility. And if souls are free, they cannot be prevented from dealing with the problem by competition instead of courtesy. And once they have advanced to actual hostility, they can then exploit the fixed nature of matter to hurt one another. The permanent nature of wood which enables us to use it as a beam also enables us to use it for hitting our neighbour on the head. The permanent nature of matter in general means that when human beings fight, the victory ordinarily goes to those who have superior weapons, skills, and numbers, even if their cause is unjust.
—from The Problem of Pain

February 18

Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding (4:1).

Young people are so anxious to begin making their own decisions. When it comes to staying out late, how to dress, what to eat, who to associate with, teenagers want their independence. Learning to make these choices is a part of growing up and maturing, but it takes time to learn to make wise choices. It also takes help. Though young people often resist the guidance and advice of their parents, there is much to be learned from adults who have lived through many of the situations they will face.

We are often just like children when it comes to the instruction of our heavenly Father. There is no situation that He does not know all about, yet we often resist His instruction or ignore His guidance. It is the wise person who learns to take sound advice. As we grow in our faith in God, we also grow in our ability to accept His instruction. It is only as we grow older that we begin to appreciate the decisions our parents made in our behalf as we were growing up. It is also true that we fully appreciate the rules that God has made for us when we mature spiritually.

prayer: Dear God, at times I act like a child in my faith. Help me to receive your instruction with an open heart and mind. Grant me the wisdom to know that you are always trying to help me grow and to keep me on the path that I should follow. Amen.
19 February

Fixed Laws of Nature and Freedom of Will

We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound-waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them. All matter in the neighbourhood of a wicked man would be liable to undergo unpredictable alterations. That God can and does, on occasions, modify the behaviour of matter and produce what we call miracles, is part of Christian faith; but the very conception of a common, and therefore stable, world, demands that these occasions should be extremely rare. In a game of chess you can make certain arbitrary concessions to your opponent, which stand to the ordinary rules of the game as miracles stand to the laws of nature. You can deprive yourself of a castle, or allow the other man sometimes to take back a move made inadvertently. But if you conceded everything that at any moment happened to suit him—if all his moves were revocable and if all your pieces disappeared whenever their position on the board was not to his liking—then you could not have a game at all. So it is with the life of souls in a world: fixed laws, consequences unfolding by causal necessity, the whole natural order, are at once limits within which their common life is confined and also the sole condition under which any such life is possible. Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.
—from The Problem of Pain

February 19

He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live (4:4).

A little girl was told by her parents, "Stay away from the road." Almost every day, the instructions were the same. The little girl obeyed the command, but occasionally she forgot when her ball rolled onto the street, or when she was running with her friends. One day, while the young girl was playing near the road, she saw a puppy run into the street just as a car went speeding past. The car squealed to a halt, but not before it struck the puppy. The little girl watched in awe, and suddenly her parents' instructions made perfect sense to her.

It is sad that all too often we demand proof before we will believe someone else. We want to know why we should obey rules, rather than follow them simply on faith. God has given us a number of commandments to follow. There is no need to question them, especially if we honestly believe that everything God does is for our good. God gives us commandments to insure that we can live, and live fully and happily. It is through faith in God and trust in His love that we come to enjoy life the way God planned it to be.

prayer: You have devised such a wonderful plan for life, Almighty God. Lead me in wisdom so that I might come to understand it better, and remain true to all of your commandments. With your help I will be able to hold fast to your Word, and live. Amen.
20 February

The Holy Eraser

It would, no doubt, have been possible for God to remove by miracle the results of the first sin ever committed by a human being; but this would not have been much good unless He was prepared to remove the results of the second sin, and of the third, and so on forever. If the miracles ceased, then sooner or later we might have reached our present lamentable situation: if they did not, then a world thus continually underpropped and corrected by Divine interference, would have been a world in which nothing important ever depended on human choice, and in which choice itself would soon cease from the certainty that one of the apparent alternatives before you would lead to no results and was therefore not really an alternative. As we saw, the chess player's freedom to play chess depends on the rigidity of the squares and the moves.
—from The Problem of Pain

February 20

Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee (4:6).

An older friend of mine always lived by the rule, "Let your conscience be your guide." Whenever he was faced by a tough decision, he said, "I stop thinking and I start feeling." For this wise old gentleman, wisdom came from listening not so much to his mind, but more to his heart. He always told me that he knew deep inside whether or not he was making a good choice. Whenever he tried to do what he knew wasn't right, a feeling crept over him, and he could not rest easily until he did what was right.

Truly, God has given us a conscience, a "still small voice," an inner wisdom which guides us and comforts us when we remain true to its instruction. When we choose to ignore the wisdom of our conscience, we face feelings of guilt and anxiety. When we pay close attention to the wisdom of our heart we find that there is special comfort. Doing what we know to be right offers not only freedom from guilt, but also a joy which comes forth from our soul. Christ rejoices each time we open ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Often God speaks to us through our consciences. If we will listen, God will preserve and keep us.

prayer: O heavenly Father, I reach out to your guidance and will. Fill me with a special wisdom so that I might always choose to follow the right path. Shine your light before me so that I will never stray. Amen.
21 February

Voluntarily United

God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. This happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.
—from Mere Christianity

February 21

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding (4:7).

There are a lot of wonderful things on this earth that God has given us to enjoy. We live in a beautiful world full of glorious trees, breath-taking mountains, immense oceans, fabulous sunsets, and on and on. Nature is splendid. Bright, sunny mornings with the birds singing and the dew sparkling on the grass are truly a gift of God. It is when we look at the world through the eyes of God that we come to appreciate just how special it is.

Real wisdom is the knowledge of God and all His handiworks. We have been given life so that we may enjoy it. It is a gift from God. When we pursue God, and a deeper knowledge of His will, we are seeking a deeper understanding of all creation. There is nothing greater that anyone can desire than to see this world of ours through the eyes of the creator. In God's creation we can catch glimpses of God Himself. In prayer we need to remember to ask God to help us become wise as He is wise, and in so doing we will see beauty like we never knew it existed before, and we will appreciate life in a new and full way.

prayer: O Lord, I want to learn to enjoy life as fully as I can. Open my eyes to see anew, with the eyes of your divine Love. Through your wisdom I can hope to come to know the fulness of life and beauty of your creation. I praise you in your greatness, O Father. Amen.
22 February

Second-Guessing God's Wisdom

Of course God knew what would happen if they [creatures with free will] used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and he wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will—that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings—then we may take it it is worth paying.
—from Mere Christianity

1944 Lewis delivers the first of seven talks on "Beyond Personality" over the BBC.

February 22

Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the ways of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths (4:10-11).

Many times I have heard parents lament, "What have I done wrong?" Parents are all too willing to take the blame when their children make poor choices or get themselves into trouble. Parents want so much for their children to succeed and have pleasant, carefree lives. That is why there is special joy in seeing children succeed. Mothers and fathers feel pride and take some credit for their children when they do well. It is an honor to the parents of children who succeed, that they have done a good job of bringing them up. When parents take interest in their children and treat them with respect and care, they are giving them as great a gift as is possible. Those children who come from families where they are supposed to have the greatest chance of living good lives when they are grown.

Our heavenly Father has tried to instruct us in the ways that lead to eternal life. He has allowed us to make our own choices, though, and we must take responsibility for them, bad or good. It is His greatest wish that we follow the wisdom of His will. When we do so, it is to His glory as well as ours, that we have learned well. By listening to our heavenly Father, our lives are enriched and the years of our lives will be multiplied.

prayer: O God, you have been such a loving Father. Forgive me that I have often ignored the instructions you have given me for my sake. Help me to follow your will and remain steadfast in my commitment to you. Amen.
23 February

The Core Corruption

The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.) What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could 'be like gods'—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
—from Mere Christianity

February 23

Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is the life. (4:13).

A lineman for a power and light company was put in charge of training new employees. He took them out and showed them each procedure; taking time to cover each step carefully. No one got past this trainer without thorough drilling and practice. One day a young man came to the lineman for training. During the instruction the young man got distracted and stopped paying attention. The lineman abruptly stopped talking, grabbed the young man by the collar, and said, "You'd better learn to pay attention now, because if you let your mind wander while you work on a live wire, it will be the last time. You won't get a second chance."

Not all instructions are matters of life and death, but the instructions of God are given in order to keep us safe and happy. By following the rules set down by God, we can rest assured that our well being is in His mind. When we speak of the instruction of God, it truly is a matter of life and death. Our eternal life is dependent on whether or not we learn to follow the guidance of God's spirit and try to follow His will all the days of our life. With His help, we may hope to hold fast to His commandments and His promise of life everlasting.

prayer: Father, help me to listen carefully with both my heart and head. Fill me with your spirit, that I might know your will. Once I have received your instruction, help me to keep it in my mind, that I might live life fully. Amen.
24 February

Human Will, the Weak Point of Creation.

We have no idea in what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence.
This act of self-will on the part of the creature, which constitutes an utter falseness to its true creatively position, is the only sin that can be conceived as the Fall. For the difficulty about the first sin is that it must be very heinous, or its consequences would not be so terrible, and yet it must be something which a being free from the temptations of fallen man could conceivably have committed. The turning from God to self fulfils both conditions. It is a sin possible even to Paradisal man, because the mere existence of a self—the mere fact that we call it 'me'—includes, from the first, the danger of self-idolatry. Since I am I, I must make an act of self-surrender, however small or however easy, in living to God rather than to myself. This is, if you like, the 'weak spot' in the very nature of creation, the risk which God apparently thinks worth taking.
—from The Problem of Pain

1943 Lewis delivers the first of three Riddell Memorial Lectures, later published as The Abolition of Man.

February 24

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away (4:14-15).

There are plants in nature which are lovely to look at, but they are deadly. There are animals which seem harmless and even attractive which are dangerous. In life there are many things which seem appealing, yet they have hidden traps. Sin is a lot like that. Most sins are attractive and tempting. We find ourselves desiring things which could possibly harm us. Often we are lured by things which we know will hurt us, but we want them badly enough to take the risk.

It doesn't make sense that we would do things which we know will harm us. The wages of sin is death, and yet it seems that we pursue sin believing that its wages are the finest reward we could possibly attain. A wise person avoids life threatening situations at any cost. That is what we should do as Christians. We should do everything in our power to avoid sin, which should be as odious to us as death itself. It is not enough to try not to sin, but we should do anything in our power to avoid it, turn from it, move as far away from it as possible and leave it as far behind as can be. It is by a conscious effort that we avoid sin, just as it is by choice that we do good.

prayer: May I choose the right path, Almighty God, turning from what I know you would not have me do in order to pursue what is fitting in your sight. Guide me through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
25 February

Becoming Yourself

Screwtape clarifies the Enemy's intent:
Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. Hence, while He is delighted to see them sacrificing even their innocent wills to His, He hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any other reason. And we should always encourage them to do so.
—from The Screwtape Letters

February 25

For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence (4:16-17).

A convicted murderer was interviewed recently. The commentator asked the man whether he was sorry for what he had done. The murderer laughed and said, "Why should I be sorry? I wanted to kill the sucker and I did. I've killed other people before, and I guess I'll do it again if I feel like it." Words like that shock the sensibilities and make you wonder what the world is coming to. As Christians, though, we know that evil is real and that it exists in our world. Jesus said that Satan was the Lord of this world, and all it takes is a quick look around to realize that He was right. There are people who enjoy doing mischief and evil. There are hateful individuals who are not happy unless they cause pain and grief.

There is a wonderful assurance for those who choose to follow Christ, and that is that the wicked of this world who seem to so often have the upper hand will be the big losers in the end of times. God honors those who hold fast to His laws and love Him with all their heart, mind and soul. Those who scorn Him now will find no solace later. Their bread and wine of wickedness and violence will sour before the bread and wine of life in the Spirit.

prayer: Father, we pray for those who have turned from you and chose to do what is evil in your sight. Let their victories pass away, and the victory of Christ shine forth in all its glory, now and forever. Amen.
26 February

A Real Right and Wrong

Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining 'It's not fair' before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties don't matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong—in other words, if there is no Law of Nature—what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?
It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.
—from Mere Christianity

February 26

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (4:18).

A young woman worked at a factory which was about ten blocks from where she lived. She could walk to work, but to do so she had to cross a railroad bridge which was treacherous going when the sun began to set. During the Winter months it was doubly dangerous due to slippery conditions as well as darkness. The woman would have avoided the crossing altogether had it not been for the crossing guard. Each evening as the woman approached the crossing, the guard waved a lantern to signal that he awaited. Using the powerful light, he would lead the woman by the hand across the bridge. Throughout her life the woman never forgot the kindness and help of the older crossing guard.

The lives of those people who are touched by the love of Christ are like guiding lights to others who have yet to find Christ in their lives. They can provide guidance and help, and they shine forth as bright examples of how good life can be. God's light can shine through us if we will only let it. We have the opportunity to show others the difference that Christ can make. When we live life empowered by the light of God, we live as He wishes we would.

prayer: Father, please make me a light for my world. Let me shine forth with your goodness, care and love. Let all who look to me see your grace. Help me to magnify the saving light of Christ which you have lovingly given me. Amen.
27 February

The Rules

I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money—the one you have almost forgotten—came when you were very hard-up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done—well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behaviour to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it—and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much—we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so—that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.
—from Mere Christianity

February 27

The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble (4:19).

In the early thirties, a gang of robbers planned to rob a midwestern bank. They laid out a nearly perfect plan breaking into the bank late at night and laying out a complex escape route through back alleys and darkened lots. The day of the robbery came and the initial phases went perfectly. As the alarms pierced the quiet midwestern night, the three men ran off into the cover of darkness. In the darkness and the confusion that followed, the police lost the robbers and assumed they got away. Early the next morning it was discovered that the three men had gotten sidetracked, fell into a water-filled ravine, and were drowned.

Not all individuals who plot evil come to the same end, at least, not in this life. But we can rely on the word of God that those who do wrong are kidding themselves and that one day they will have to answer for the evil they have been responsible for. What they have done in the dark will be revealed in the light of Christ, and that will be their downfall. Christ will one day judge the unjust, and it will come as a surprise to them when they find that they have turned away from salvation. The darkness they live in will seem doubly dark on that day.

prayer: I thank thee, Father, that you have ended the darkness of unending night in my life. You have burst forth in the brightest light, and in that light there is no darkness at all. May your light shine brightly in my life always. Amen.
28 February

Impulse Control

It is a mistake to think that some of our impulses—say mother love or patriotism—are good, and others, like sex or the fighting instinct, are bad. All we mean is that the occasions on which the fighting instinct or the sexual desire need to be restrained are rather more frequent than those for restraining mother love or patriotism. But there are situations in which it is the duty of a married man to encourage his sexual impulse and of a soldier to encourage the fighting instinct. There are also occasions on which a mother's love for her own children or man's love for his own country have to be suppressed or they will lead to unfairness towards other people's children or countries. Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think once again of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the 'right' notes and the 'wrong' ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. ....
By the way, the point is of great practical consequence. The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials 'for the sake of humanity', and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.
—from Mere Christianity

February 28

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (4:23).

Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matt. 6:21) What we feel and believe are the truly precious and meaningful things in our lives. If we don't commit ourselves to what is good and right, then we are empty. Moral poverty occurs when we place things above relationships. Christ sent his disciples out into the world without possessions, but no one in history has known more wealth than those chosen men who walked with Jesus. It is when we choose to walk with Jesus that we can find out what true riches are.

In today's world, it is easy to get distracted by so many things. Lifestyles are presented in magazine and on television that seem so appealing. The "good life" requires money, good looks, nice clothes, and the right car, the right house, the right mate. At least, that's what we're supposed to believe. But it is only when we can free ourselves from the pursuit of such things that we can begin to enjoy life the way God intended it. Money cannot buy happiness, nor can it bring us life. Christ brings us life, and He brings it most abundantly. He is the real treasure, and as long as our hearts remain with Him, our lives will truly be rich.

prayer: Dear Father, forgive me when I lose sight of what is really important in life. Help me to keep my eyes focused on your truth. Enable me to show others that you are the real treasure in life. Amen.
29 February

Not Moral Perfection

The Holiness of God is something more and other than moral perfection: His claim upon us is something more and other than the claim of moral duty. I do not deny it: but this conception, like that of corporate guilt, is very easily used as an evasion of the real issue. God may be more than moral goodness: He is not less. The road to the promised land runs past Sinai. The moral law may exist to be transcended: but there is no transcending it for those who have not first admitted its claims upon them, and then tried with all their strength to meet that claim, and fairly and squarely faced the fact of their failure.
—from The Problem of Pain

February 29

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee (4:24).

A young retarded boy ran away from home, throwing his parents into a panic. When the police finally found him and returned him to his home, his mother asked him why he had run away. Tearfully, he responded that other children on the block continually made fun of him. He was unable to deal with their cruel taunting and so he fled.

Too few people realize the power of words. There is both power to hurt and power to heal. In the same way that cruel words can tear down, kind words can build up. Often we feel powerless to do much to help those around us, but one power we do have is to be kind. It is amazing what a smile and a friendly word can do. There is so much unhappiness in the world, and it often seems like there is very little that we can do to fight it. But it is not the large things which ultimately make the difference. It is the small things. The kind hello. The sincere compliment. Things which cost us nothing, but mean so much. It is the responsibility of every Christian to watch the things they say, avoiding unkind or coarse words, and trying always to choose kind and uplifting words.

prayer: Fill my mouth with only words of kindness and love. Bless my lips with praise and singing. Protect me from any unkindness I might inflict on another person. Help me to treat others as you would treat them. Amen.
1 March

Morality: A Quick Lesson

There are two ways in which the human machine goes wrong. One is when human individuals drift apart from one another, or else collide with one another and do one another damage, by cheating or bullying. The other is when things go wrong inside the individual—when the different parts of him (his different faculties and desires and so on) either drift apart or interfere with one another. You can get the idea plain if you think of us as a fleet of ships sailing in formation. The voyage will be a success only, in the first place, if the ships do not collide and get in one another's way; and, secondly, if each ship is seaworthy and has her engines in good order. As a matter of fact, you cannot have either of these two things without the other. If the ships keep on having collisions they will not remain seaworthy very long. On the other hand, if their steering gears are out of order they will not be able to avoid collisions. Or, if you like, think of humanity as a band playing a tune. To get a good result, you need two things. Each player's individual instrument must be in tune and also each must come in at the right moment so as to combine with all the others.
But there is one thing we have not yet taken into account. We have not asked where the fleet is trying to get to, or what piece of music the band is trying to play. The instruments might be all in tune and might all come in at the right moment, but even so the performance would not be a success if they had been engaged to provide dance music and actually played nothing but Dead Marches. And however well the fleet sailed, its voyage would be a failure if it were meant to reach New York and actually arrived at Calcutta.
—from Mere Christianity

March 1

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee (4:25).

When I was in high school I was quite a runner. Day after day I would train, running seventeen miles in the morning and seventeen miles at night. I ate all of the proper foods, took good care of myself, got plenty of rest, and I followed the instructions of my coaches. One of the most important instructions they ever gave me was: when you're in the race, keep your head straight and look forward. Never turn your head. If you do, you'll break your stride and it could cost you the race. I saw it happen time and time again. Runners would just cast a quick glance over their shoulder to see where the other runners were, and that was all it took. They would stumble, lose concentration, and the other runners would catch up and pass.

The rule is one that we should, as Christians, learn to follow. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will do fine. It is when we are distracted, when we lose sight of God in our lives that we get ourselves into trouble. The rule is a simple one, but an important one: Let thine eyes look right on ... right on Jesus Christ our Lord.

prayer: Keep my eyes straight, Almighty God. Let me see only You in my life. Make me aware of your presence every day, and never let me turn my eyes from you. Be the vision of my life. Amen.
2 March

The Moral Dilemma

Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonising the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for: what course the whole fleet ought to be on: what tune the conductor of the band wants it to play. ....
Almost all people at all times have agreed (in theory) that human beings ought to be honest and kind and helpful to one another. But though it is natural to begin with all that, if our thinking about morality stops there, we might just as well not have thought at all. Unless we go on to the second thing—the tidying up inside each human being—we are only deceiving ourselves.
What is the good of telling the ships how to steer so as to avoid collisions if, in fact, they are such crazy old tubs that they cannot be steered at all? What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think, and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system: but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society.
—from Mere Christianity

March 2

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established (4:26).

A young sales representative was sent to a new area and found that he had terrible difficulties finding the locations of many of his clients. His home office began to receive complaints that the young man was showing up late, and in some cases not at all. An older, wiser sales representative traveled out to visit the young man. Upon arriving, he was shocked to find that the young man had not even invested in a map. All the time he had spent driving from place to place had been done blindly. The older man purchased maps of the sales area and sat the younger salesman down to chart out the locations of his clients.

Many people go through life without a thought about where they are heading. They live one day at a time, waiting for life to happen to them rather than planning how they might make their lives more meaningful. It is good when we are flexible enough to deal with the curves that we're thrown in life, but it is also prudent for us to make the best use of our time while we are here. God gave us our lives to enjoy and make good with. It is for His sake that we should always strive to live the best way we can.

prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to do the best I can as I live my life. Make me watchful that I not waste the precious time that you have given me. Amen.
3 March

Just Deserts

A bad man, happy, is a man without the least inkling that his actions do not 'answer', that they are not in accord with the laws of the universe.
A perception of this truth lies at the back of the universal human feeling that bad men ought to suffer. It is no use turning up our noses at this feeling, as if it were wholly base. On its mildest level it appeals to everyone's sense of justice. Once when my brother and I, as very small boys, were drawing pictures at the same table, I jerked his elbow and caused him to make an irrelevant line across the middle of his work; the matter was amicably settled by my allowing him to draw a line of equal length across mine. That is, I was 'put in his place', made to see my negligence from the other end. On a sterner level the same idea appears as 'retributive punishment', or 'giving a man what he deserves'. Some enlightened people would like to banish all conceptions of retribution or desert from their theory of punishment and place its value wholly in the deterrence of others or the reform of the criminal himself. They do not see that by so doing they render all punishment unjust. What can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it? And if I do deserve it, you are admitting the claims of 'retribution'. And what can be more outrageous than to catch me and submit me to a disagreeable process of moral improvement without my consent, unless (once more) I deserve it?
—from The Problem of Pain

March 3

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil (4:27).

When recently traveling to my sister's house, I found myself hopelessly lost. She had given me good directions, telling me to stay on a highway until I came to a certain traffic light. I drove down the highway for what seemed like hours. As the miles passed, I began to doubt whether or not my sister had given me the right directions. The doubts grew and grew, until finally I decided to turn off. I headed in the general direction I thought my sister would be, and that was how I got myself lost. As it turned out, I was only a few minutes from the proper light, but because of my doubts, I was led to make a bad decision.

Many times in our lives we will find ourselves in situations where we grow impatient or doubtful. It is during those times that it is most important to hold fast to the promises of God. God is always there, and He knows what is best for us in every situation. It is vital that we not turn to the right or left, but stay steadfastly on the path that leads to God. If we will learn to do that, then the blessings of God will be ours in all circumstances.

prayer: Almighty God, forgive me when I doubt your will and guidance. Help me to always have the faith I need to trust and obey. Make me constant in my belief in you. Amen.
4 March

The Impulse for Vengeance

Revenge loses sight of the ends in the means, but its end is not wholly bad—it wants the evil of the bad man to be to him what it is to everyone else. This is proved by the fact that the avenger wants the guilty party not merely to suffer, but to suffer at his hands, and to know it, and to know why. Hence the impulse to taunt the guilty man with his crime at the moment of taking vengeance: hence, too, such natural expressions as 'I wonder how he'd like it if the same thing were done to him' or 'I'll teach him'. For the same reason when we are going to abuse a man in words we say we are going to 'let him know what we think of him'.
—from The Problem of Pain

March 4

For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword (5:3-4).

It is interesting that we often think of sin as evil. It makes little sense to believe that something evil would tempt us. Rather, it is the seemingly good things which cause us to sin. The saying goes, "It is easier to attract flies with honey than with vinegar." Often sin has nothing to do with evil things, but merely with too much of a good thing. Still, the end result is the same. Sin is sin, and there is no place for sin in the life of a Christian.

Gluttony is one of the most unattractive traits a person can have. Christians should be sensitive to the need that exists in our world. It should be impossible for the Christian to selfishly hoard possessions when God calls on us to share from our abundance. Those things which entice us by their glamour and glitter are false gods. They cause us to pervert our faith and lead us from the true path of Christ. The wages of sin is death, but the turning from sin is the road which leads to life everlasting. With God's help we are able to resist every temptation, no matter how inviting it might be.

prayer: So often I find myself tempted to do those things I know that I should not. Please help me, Father, to resist the temptations that come my way. Let me share what I have and avoid the things I really don't need. Amen.
5 March

Face the Bad

Now at the moment when a man feels real guilt—moments too rare in all our lives—all these blasphemies vanish away. Much, we may feel, can be excused to human infirmities: but not this—this incredibly mean and ugly action which none of our friends would have done, which even such a thorough-going little rotter as X would have been ashamed of, which we would not for the world allow to be published. At such a moment we really do know that our character, as revealed in this action, is, and ought to be, hateful to all good men, and, if there are powers above man, to them. A God who did not regard this with unappeasable distaste would not be a good being. We cannot even wish for such a God—it is like wishing that every nose in the universe were abolished, that smell of hay or roses or the sea should never again delight any creature, because our own breath happens to stink.
When we merely say that we are bad, the 'wrath' of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God's goodness. To keep ever before us the insight derived from such a moment as I have been describing, to learn to detect the same real inexcusable corruption under more and more of it's complex disguises is therefore indispensable to a real understanding of the Christian faith. This is not, of course, a new doctrine. I am attempting nothing very splendid in this chapter. I am merely trying to get my reader (and, still more, myself) over a pons asinorum—to take the first step out of fools' paradise and utter illusion.
—from The Problem of Pain

March 5

Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldst ponder the path of life, her ways are movable, that thou canst not know them (5:5-6).

A young woman found the stresses and strains of day to day life to be too much for her. She sought out a psychiatrist who saw her three times a week. During her therapy, the doctor began to talk to her about her connection with the church. The doctor told her that church was a crutch and that only weak people needed to go there. The young woman was instructed to stay away from the church and give up her dependence on empty religion. The woman took her doctor's advice and quit the church. In the months that followed, the young woman's problems increased until she left even her psychiatrist in deep despair.

The world, which is the stomping ground of the devil, is quick to turn us away from God, offering a hundred other false gods in His place. When we lose God, we've lost everything. We need to beware of people who try to turn our faith from God to other things. Only God can give us the help and support we need to deal with the regular pressures of life. There is no other way, for it is only with God that all things are possible.

prayer: There is no answer apart from you, Almighty God. In every situation, both good and bad, you are the strength and the hope.You are every good thing. Be with me in everything I do. Amen.
6 March

The Truth About Ourselves

Every man, not very holy or very arrogant, has to 'live up to' the outward appearance of other men: he knows there is that within him which falls far below even his most careless public behavior, even his loosest talk. In an instant of time—while your friend hesitates for a word—what things pass through your mind? We have never told the whole truth. We may confess ugly facts—the meanest cowardice or the shabbiest and most prosaic impurity—but the tone is false. The very act of confessing—an infinitesimally hypocritical glance—a dash of humour—all this contrives to dissociate the facts from your very self. No one could guess how familiar and, in a sense, congenial to your soul these things were, how much of a piece with all the rest: down there, in the dreaming inner warmth, they struck no such discordant note, were not nearly so odd and detachable from the rest of you, as they seem when they are turned into words. We imply, and often believe, that habitual vices are exceptional single acts, and make the opposite mistake about our virtues—like the bad tennis player who calls his normal form his 'bad days' and mistakes his rare successes for his normal. I do not think it is our fault that we cannot tell the real truth about ourselves; the persistent, life-long, inner murmur of spite, jealousy, prurience, greed and self-complacence, simply will not go into words. But the important thing is that we should not mistake our inevitably limited utterances for a full account of the worst that is inside.
—from The Problem of Pain

March 6

Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Lest thou give thine honor unto others, and thy years unto the cruel (5:7, 9).

Whether we know it or not, we are being watched. Whenever we claim to be something, people will watch us to see whether or not we live up to our claims. Athletes are judged by their performances. Investors are valued for their ability to make big money. Policemen are judged by their abilities to perform well under fire. What is it that Christians are judged for?

When we call ourselves Christians we are claiming to be mirror images of Christ for all the world to see. We are presenting ourselves as examples of what God had in mind when he put men and women on this earth. It is a presumptuous claim we make, and one that carries with it a great amount of responsibility. One of the greatest sins we can ever commit is to call ourselves Christians, then act in ways which are unacceptable in the sight of the Lord. We must continually study the word of God, and follow all of the instructions that God has given to us. We must devote ourselves to imitating Christ in all ways possible. When we fail to do so, we bring dishonor not only on ourselves, but on the entire Christian church.

prayer: I pray that I might learn to walk carefully in the steps of Jesus Christ, Almighty Father. Grant that I might be an honor to your truth in all ways. Be with me to shine your light through my life that others may see your greatness. Amen.
7 March

Time Does Not Cancel Sin

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker's, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble. As for the fact of a sin, is it probable that anything cancels it? All times are eternally present to God. Is it not at least possible that along some one line of His multi-dimensional eternity He sees you forever in the nursery pulling the wings off a fly, forever toadying, lying, and lusting as a schoolboy, forever in that moment of cowardice or insolence as a subaltern? It may be that salvation consists not in the cancelling of these eternal moments but in the perfected humanity that bears the shame forever, rejoicing in the occasion which it furnished to God's compassion and glad that it should be common knowledge to the universe. Perhaps in that eternal moment St Peter—he will forgive me if I am wrong—forever denies his Master. If so, it would indeed be true that the joys of Heaven are for most of us, in our present condition, 'an acquired taste'—and certain ways of life may render the taste impossible of acquisition. Perhaps the lost are those who dare not go to such a public place. Of course I do not know that this is true; but I think the possibility is worth keeping in mind.
—from The Problem of Pain

March 7

Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger (5:7,10).

The sign nailed to the tree said "No Trespassing." The red letters stood out for yards in every direction. But that didn't stop the young boys from climbing the fence in order to reach the apples that grew on the trees on the other side. One day, a small boy slipped while he was climbing the apple tree, and he fell onto a pile of sharp branches, cutting himself badly, and breaking his ankle. Alone and afraid, the young boy lay crying for hours amidst the tumble of sticks. Finally, the owner of the property happened by. He came out and lifted the boy from the branches. The child was afraid of the wrath of the farmer who had posted such ominous signs, but the old gentleman merely smiled at the boy and said, "I didn't put the signs up to be mean. I put them there to try to keep things like this from happening. It was kindness which caused me to want to protect little boys just like you."

Our loving heavenly Father gives us rules for the same reason. He is hoping to save us from pain and suffering. When we ignore His guidance, we find ourselves in terrible situations. We can feel confident that God is trying to protect us by His rules. He protects us from strangers who would prey on us, and strangers who might mistreat us.

prayer: Dear Father, help me to accept the rules you have given me. Guide me that I might always avoid the snares of strangers, and the dangers in life. Amen.
8 March

Bad Company

We must guard against the feeling that there is 'safety in numbers'. It is natural to feel that if all men are as bad as the Christians say, then badness must be very excusable. If all the boys plough in the examination, surely the papers must have been too hard? And so the masters at that school feel till they learn that there are other schools where ninety per cent of the boys passed on the same papers. Then they begin to suspect that the fault did not lie with the examiners. Again, many of us have had the experience of living in some local pocket of human society—some particular school, college, regiment or profession where the tone was bad. And inside that pocket certain actions were regarded as merely normal ('Everyone does it') and certain others as impracticably virtuous and Quixotic. But when we emerged from that bad society we made the horrible discovery that in the outer world our 'normal' was the kind of thing that no decent person ever dreamed of doing, and our 'Quixotic' was taken for granted as the minimum standard of decency. What had seemed to us morbid and fantastic scruples so long as we were in the 'pocket' now turned out to be the only moments of sanity we there enjoyed. It is wise to face the possibility that the whole human race (being a small thing in the universe) is, in fact, just such a local pocket of evil—an isolated bad school or regiment inside which minimum decency passes for heroic virtue and utter corruption for pardonable imperfection.
—from The Problem of Pain

March 8

and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me (5:12-13).

A young woman desperately desired to be able to play the piano. She went to an instructor and asked him for lessons. After a few lessons, the woman expressed frustration that she couldn't play anything. The instructor told her that fine playing took time and hard work. No one simply sat down and began playing without long hours of practice and concentration. The young woman grew angry at her teacher and stormed out of her lesson. She went to other instructors, always with the same result. Her lack of patience and her inability to follow the instructions she was given blocked her ever learning how to play. Finally she gave up, feeling that she had never received the kind of training she was looking for; never admitting that she had been at fault in the least.

So often we are our own worst enemy. We look to others for help, then when it is offered, we refuse to accept it. This is true of our prayers. Too often we come before God asking His help, but when He doesn't respond to us the way we think He should, then we reject Him. It is through trusting the divine wisdom of God that we come to know wisdom for ourselves. God can only do for us what we will let Him. He never forces us to do what we should.

prayer: Please help me to open my heart and soul to your will. Forgive me when I turn from your insight and knowledge. Give me the patience I need to wait on You in all situations. Amen.
9 March

Virtues in Different Ages

If, then, you are ever tempted to think that we modern Western Europeans cannot really be so very bad because we are, comparatively speaking, humane—if, in other words, you think God might be content with us on that ground—ask yourself whether you think God ought to have been content with the cruelty of cruel ages because they excelled in courage or chastity. You will see at once that this is an impossibility. From considering how the cruelty of our ancestors looks to us, you may get some inkling how our softness, worldliness, and timidity would have looked to them, and hence how both must look to God.
—from The Problem of Pain

March 9

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers with thee (5:15-17).

Two young men had been friends since early childhood. They had shared everything. They had gone through the same experiences, and they understood each other perfectly. They were closer than many brothers. No better friends could be found. When they went off to college, they became roommates. Soon after college began, one of the young men fell in love with a beautiful young coed. The other man became jealous of his friend, and so he too began to woo the young woman, but behind his friend's back. When his friend finally caught on to what was happening, that friendship came to a bitter and hurtful end.

Fidelity, honesty, loyalty, kindness; all of these are attributes of God that we should desire in our own lives. When we violate these principles, we must pay a price. It is never good to desire that which belongs to someone else. Greed and covetousness result, and they lead to ruin. It is best to always find contentment with "the waters of our own cisterns," those things which are ours, given us by God. When we learn to be satisfied with what we have, then we avoid the pain and suffering attached to taking from others what is rightfully theirs.

prayer: I have been given so much that is good in my life, Almighty God. Make me to appreciate what I have, and to stop longing for things which are not mine to have. Grant that my spirit might be satisfied this day, O Lord. Amen.
10 March

Enemy-Occupied Territory

One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe—a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.
Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery. I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil—hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'
—from Mere Christianity

March 10

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love (5:18-19).

While walking along the beach one evening, I saw an elderly couple strolling on the boardwalk. The man was blind, and his wife was lovingly leading him along. Her hands were gnarled with arthritis, and her legs were swollen. Both people looked as though they had lived difficult lives. Despite this, I could see the love with which the woman looked upon her mate. I walked up to the couple and told them that I was struck with how much in love they looked. The woman appeared a little embarrassed, but her husband spoke right up and said, "We've been married fifty-two years. I could never have made it without her. When everything else goes bad, I know I've still got the best little woman in the world to love me."

That old gentleman knew the real secret of happiness. It is never in the things we have or don't have. It's not in what happens to us or doesn't happen. The best thing in life is love. Those who are lucky enough to find someone to share their lives with enjoy a special gift from God. But for every person, the love of God is very real, and very much freely given. We can be happy because we can know we are loved. Praise God.

prayer: O Lord, giver of life and giver of love. Though I am unworthy, I thank you for loving me so much. Help me to know your love at all times, and grant that I might be able to always spread that love wherever I might go. Amen.
11 March

A Simple (Albeit Comical) Argument for Christian Theology

Almost the whole of Christian theology could perhaps be deduced from the two facts (a) That men make coarse jokes, and (b) That they feel the dead to be uncanny. The coarse joke proclaims that we have here an animal which finds its own animality either objectionable or funny. Unless there had been a quarrel between the spirit and the organism I do not see how this could be: it is the very mark of the two not being 'at home' together. But it is very difficult to imagine such a state of affairs as original—to suppose a creature which from the very first was half shocked and half tickled to death at the mere fact of being the creature it is. I do not perceive that dogs see anything funny about being dogs: I suspect that angels see nothing funny about being angels. Our feeling about the dead is equally odd. It is idle to say that we dislike corpses because we are afraid of ghosts. You might say with equal truth that we fear ghosts because we dislike corpses—for the ghost owes much of its horror to the associated ideas of pallor, decay, coffins, shrouds, and worms. In reality we hate the division which makes possible the conception of either corpse or ghost. Because the thing ought not to be divided, each of the halves into which if falls by division is detestable. The explanations which Naturalism gives both of bodily shame and of our feeling about the dead are not satisfactory. It refers us to primitive taboos and superstitions—as if these themselves were not obviously results of the thing to be explained. But once accept the Christian doctrine that man was originally a unity and that the present division is unnatural, and all the phenomena fall into place.
—from Miracles

March 11

And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger (5:20).

A young woman sobbed, "I just don't know what to believe anymore! I don't feel God with me like I used to." Her life had gone from bad to worse. She had followed in a long line of bad relationships, and bad decisions. She had taken and lost a dozen jobs. She had moved from place to place and was swept up in every new fad to come along. She had joined a group of young people who gathered to meditate and chant together. It was the only place that she felt accepted, but even there she found little comfort as her life crumbled around her. Throughout her childhood she had been a member of a church, and now she felt that she was every bit as devoted with her new group. Still, it wasn't enough.

There is no substitute for the truth and saving power of Jesus Christ. Other groups and sects may appear to be sincere and good, but they are "strange women" who lure us from what is right and good to things we should avoid. The Lord has said clearly, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except by me." (John 14:6) Other paths may seem good, but they are false paths which lead nowhere. Stay close to God, avoid "strangers," and all will be well.

prayer: There is so much that looks good to me, Father. Protect me from the things which would lead me far from you. Steer me back to you when I stray. Guide my steps by your loving light, Almighty God. Amen.
12 March

So What About God's Authority

Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God's will, or not? If it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?
But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, 'I'm not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You've got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.' Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.
—from Mere Christianity

March 12

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings (5:21).

There was an eight year old boy who, like many other eight year olds, was terrified of the dark. One summer he went to stay with his grandparents. They lived far from the city, and so the nights were dark and quiet, interrupted only by sounds of animals and insects. The little boy would cower as the sun set, staying inside where it was light and safe. One night, the boy's grandfather asked him to come sit on the porch with him. As the boy hesitated, his grandfather moved over to him, and laying his hand on his shoulder said, "I'll keep my hand on your shoulder the whole time. You don't have to go out alone." Under the watchful eye of his grandfather, the boy agreed. When they had stepped into the darkness, the boy asked quietly, "Why aren't you afraid, Grammpa?" The old man looked down and said, "Cause I know that God's hand is on my shoulder just like mine is on yours. Remember, boy, you never go anywhere that God is not right there with you."

It is so good to know that we are never out of the Lord's sight. He watches all of our comings and goings. There is absolutely no place that we can go that God will not be also. His hand is always on our shoulder, and He watches all our steps.

prayer: Be with me in every situation, Almighty God. Let me feel your loving touch on my shoulder as I face the challenges of every day life. Be my strength and my courage when I find myself lacking, Father. Amen.
13 March

Our Imperfect World: Creation in Process

We ask how the Nature created by a good God comes to be in this [depraved] condition? By which question we may mean either how she comes to be imperfect—to leave 'room for improvement' as the schoolmasters say in their reports—or else, how she comes to be positively depraved. If we ask the question in the first sense, the Christian answer (I think) is that God, from the first created her such as to reach her perfection by a process in time. He made an Earth at first 'without form and void' and brought it by degrees to its perfection. In this, as elsewhere, we see the familiar pattern—descent from God to the formless Earth and reascent from the formless to the finished. In that sense a certain degree of 'evolutionism' or 'developmentalism' is inherent in Christianity.
—from Miracles

March 13

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray (5:22-23).

A spider toiled along, crafting an amazing web which stretched forth eighteen inches squared. Once finished, the spider spun new webs connecting itself to the corners, until a labyrinth of gossamer filled the corner in which it stood. While the spider busily worked, a larger spider silently crept up alongside. At the right moment, the large spider entered the web, and the creator of it was trapped with no escape.

Sin is like a web. As we become occupied with the things we should not be doing, we become oblivious to the dangers that surround us. We feel that we are in control, when in fact, we are in a very precarious position. There is no good end that can come from a life of sin. We become "holden with its cords," and we cannot get loose. Ultimately, we must answer for our actions before God. If we do not repent of our misdeeds, they become a noose around our neck, and through our folly, we find ourselves hopelessly separated from God. It is good that we always pay attention to the ways we live our lives. It is when we grow complacent that we stand in the greatest danger of losing that which is most important. With God's help, we will never be ensnared.

prayer: Lord, I turn my attention to so many things which I should not. My sight is distracted by so much folly. Forgive me when I stray, and shine forth your great light that I might follow its beam back to the source of all life. Amen.
14 March

Our Imperfect World: Creation Corrupted

So much for Nature's imperfection; her positive depravity calls for a very different explanation. According to the Christians this is all due to sin: the sin both of men and of powerful, non-human beings, supernatural but created. .... To be sure, the morbid inquisitiveness about such beings which led our ancestors to a pseudo-science of Demonology, is to be sternly discouraged: our attitude should be that of the sensible citizen in wartime who believes that there are enemy spies in our midst but disbelieves nearly every particular spy story. We must limit ourselves to the general statement that beings in a different, and higher 'Nature' which is partially interlocked with ours have, like men, fallen and have tampered with things inside our frontier. The doctrine, besides proving itself fruitful of good in each man's spiritual life, helps to protect us from shallowly optimistic or pessimistic views of Nature. To call her either 'good' or 'evil' is boys' philosophy. We find ourselves in a world of transporting pleasures, ravishing beauties, and tantalising possibilities, but all constantly being destroyed, all coming to nothing. Nature has all the sire of a good thing spoiled.
The sin, both of men and of angels, was rendered possible by the fact that God gave them free will: thus surrendering a portion of His omnipotence (it is again a deathlike or descending movement) because He saw that from a world of free creatures, even though they fell, He could work out (and this is the reascent) a deeper happiness and a fuller splendour than any world of automata would admit.
—from Miracles

March 14

My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou has stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth (6:1-2).

The young couple was delighted when the first credit card came. They felt swept up in the power they had to purchase some of the things they'd always wanted, without having to part with a large sum all at once. One credit card followed another, and each one was used to its limit. New clothes, new furniture, appliances, stereos, vacations, gadgets; all swept in with seeming ease.

Then the bills came, and the ability to pay them was sorely lacking. The pressure to pay mounted, and it was followed by the frustration of losing all the nice things, then the same of recrimination and bad credit. What had seemed like a good deal in the beginning was nothing more than a nightmare in the end.

It is often easy to be snared by deals which seem to offer something for nothing. There is no such thing. Jesus told His disciples that they were to work for what they received, and not to take any more than was needed. They were not to "strike deals" but let their "yes be yes, and their no be no." It is never wise to live beyond our means to the point where we become a slave to our transactions. In all ways, we should try to work with what God has given to us, waiting on the time when we may attain good things without going into debt.

prayer: Help me to avoid the traps which I find in my path each day, O Lord. Grant me the wisdom to know the difference between need and want, and never sacrifice my integrity in order to obtain objects. Amen.
15 March

Once Begun . . .

The doctrine of a universal redemption spreading outwards from the redemption of Man, mythological as it will seem to modern minds, is in reality far more philosophical than any theory which holds that God, having once entered Nature, should leave her, and leave her substantially unchanged, or that the glorification of one creature could be realised without the glorification of the whole system. God never undoes anything but evil, never does good to undo it again. The union between God and nature in the Person of Christ admits no divorce. He will not go out of Nature again and she must be glorified in all ways which this miraculous union demands. When spring comes it 'leaves no corner of the land untouched'; even a pebble dropped in a pond sends circles to the margin.
—from Miracles

March 15

Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend: go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler (6:3-5).

A young woman moved away from home and settled in an apartment in a large metropolitan area. Her parents came out to visit her, and they took pleasure in buying things for her new apartment. Before they left, they stopped in to see her landlord and paid him three months rent in advance. This was all done out of love for their daughter, but they wouldn't let their girl hear the end of it. Whenever a disagreement arose they reminded her of all they had done for her. Finally, in desperation, the young woman sent them a check for the rent and for the items her parents had purchased for her. She included a note saying, "Please don't misunderstand, but I want you to take this back. A gift is no good with strings attached to it."

When we look at the "gifts" the world has to offer, we need to be aware of the strings which are attached. There is always some catch. With the gifts of God, however, there are never strings attached. All God's gifts come from the greatest love the world has ever known.

prayer: See that I give and take freely, Father, never placing anyone in bondage by my actions, nor being cast into bondage myself. Allow me to use the wisdom needed to stay clear of those who would buy my devotion, I pray. Amen.
16 March

Correcting Our Arithmetic

Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? .... We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.
—from Mere Christianity

March 16

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise (6:6).

On my way to work one morning, I observed the result of some little child's misfortune. A frosted cookie lay face down in the dirt. Upon closer inspection I was amazed at the number of ants which hastily crawled around on the sweet. At first, I thought they moved randomly, but as I watched I saw that there was great order to their movement. Each ant found a jagged corner, then working diligently, it broke off the piece it was after, usually the piece much larger than the carrier, and moved off the site to a nearby ant hill. This went on endlessly, and the cookie shrank in size. A few hours later, I walked past and the ant crew was just finishing up. The cookie was gone, miraculously pieced out, stored for a coming time of need. I thought of all the projects I faced that seemed too large or impossible. I was ashamed that I couldn't even find in myself the determination and drive of a small ant.

Jesus said that with the faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. How much could we accomplish if we had the commitment of a small ant? Often it is too easy to say, "I can't," rather than "I'll try!" Know this, God blesses those who will give their best effort just because they try to do what He made them to do.

prayer: There are so many creatures, Father, who can inspire me and give me guidance. Let me face the obstacles in my life with the spirit of the lowly ant. With its small faith, all things will be possible for me to do. Amen.
17 March

With Every Choice

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
—from Mere Christianity

March 17

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? (6:9).

"I sleep every day till noon!" a young woman proudly exclaimed. "I can't remember the last time I saw the sunrise." What a pity that she was so happy that she missed some of God's greatest beauty. So many people walk though their entire lives as if they are asleep. They miss the wonder and glory of the world around them, and they are not even aware that they are missing anything at all. The person who sleeps all the time misses so much. The same is true of the person who closes their eyes to the beauty of God's world.

God made His creation, and He saw that it was good. He gave dominion over the earth to men and women to share with them how good it was. Our lives are creations of God, and they too are good. It is important that we embrace the goodness of our lives, and thank God daily for what we have been given. It is no good to sleep throughout the bulk of our lives. We should wake up. Wake up to the creation that God has given us. It is good, and it is right in front of us to enjoy and take hold of. It was out of God's love for us that our world was given, and it should be from love that we return thanks to Him.

prayer: O Father, what a wonderful world you have made. Let me look at the world through your eyes in order that I might see it in all its freshness and light. I rejoice in your glory, now and always, Almighty God. Amen.
18 March

Understanding Evil

Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.
—from Mere Christianity

March 18

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man (6:10-11).

The white lines flashed past hypnotically. The road stretched into an endless ribbon of gray. The sound of the radio faded in and out, and the car seemed to sweep the road with a mind of its own. The tires skidded in the soft gravel of the shoulder, and, had it not been for a sturdy guardrail, the car would have gone over the edge of a deep ravine. By the time the foggy mist had lifted from my mind, I was sitting at an odd angle, counting my blessing for being still alive. I had dozed just briefly, perhaps not even a minute, but that was all the time it took for me to end in the ditch. It could have been all the time needed to end my life.

Sin is like that. It creeps up on us, makes us feel comfortable and lazy, and then it strikes when our defenses are down. The results can be tragic. Moral alertness is as important to our spiritual lives as physical alertness is to making sure we stay safe in an automobile. It is when we "fall asleep at the wheel" that evil can take its toll in our lives. The wise driver avoids the road when he or she is physically tired. Isn't it as wise for us, as Christians, to avoid those situations in our lives when we know we are not strong, or when we are most susceptible?

prayer: Almighty God, I often grow drowsy in my spiritual pilgrimage. When I am in need of rest, be my stronghold. Protect me from the wiles of the evil one. Strengthen me that I might resist evil, so that it will flee from me. Amen.
19 March

The Essential Vice

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.
The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
—from Mere Christianity

1956 The Last Battle (the final volume of The Chronicles of Narnia) is published by The Bodley Head, London.

March 19

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy (6:12-15).

A college student loved to play practical jokes. Whenever he found an opportunity, he pulled a gag on one of his friends. No one was safe from his onslaught. Eventually, the people he associated with avoided him, and hated to be around him. Only when he was alone and lonely did he realize that he had been wrong. He attempted to reconcile with his friends, but they had too often heard his apologies, just to be the butt of another unkind joke. The young man who chose to live by the practical joke had to pay the price.

Our actions affect so greatly how our lives will go. We do things which sometimes seem insignificant to us, but to others they are important. One of our largest responsibilities as Christians is to guard our words and actions carefully, always making sure that what we do to others is what we would want to have done to us. Wickedness can take seemingly harmless forms, but once the seed is planted, no matter how small, it can grow forth into a mighty tree, with roots which reach deep.

prayer: Lord I wish to do no one harm. Would that I could, allow me to spread goodness and light wherever I might go. Save me from the calamity which will befall those who live carelessly or foolishly. Amen.
20 March

The Proud Competitor

If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature—while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. .... Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.
—from Mere Christianity

1919 Lewis's first book, Spirits in Bondage: A Cycle of Lyrics, is published by William Heinemann, London, under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton.

March 20

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look (6:16-17a).

The new girl stepped cautiously into the classroom. She flinched as she looked at the people in the room. They were all dressed in the latest fashions, had nice hairstyles, and carried expensive purses and book bags. She looked down at her faded blue jeans and sneakers. A flush came to her cheeks. When she looked up, she saw that many of the girls and boys were looking at her with condescending sneers. She wished she could sink into the floor. Before she could control it, tears came into her eyes, and she turned away to avoid further embarrassment. Out of nowhere a voice came forth, "Hi, my name's Janet. What's yours?" Carefully, the young girl looked up to see a smiling, friendly face.

An attitude can be as damaging as an unkind word or a forceful blow. We wield great power in the way we treat other people. If we think that we are better than other people, it will show in our manner, our looks, our words and our actions. God despises the proud and haughty attitudes that people develop. Our duty as Christians is to look at all individuals as equals; brothers and sisters whom we can reach out to. When we look down on others, we do not just withdraw our reach to them, but to Christ as well.

prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to see your spirit in all people I meet. Be sure that I never turn from another person due to pride or haughtiness. Teach me to love those around me as you would love them. Amen.
21 March

How Marriage Reconciles

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
'It was too perfect to last,' so I am tempted to say of our marriage. But it can be meant in two ways. It may be grimly pessimistic—as if God no sooner saw two of His creatures happy than He stopped it ('None of that here!'). As if He were like the Hostess at the sherry-party who separates two guests the moment they show signs of having got into a real conversation. But it could also mean 'This had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it had in it to be. Therefore of course it would not be prolonged.' As if God said, 'Good; you have mastered that exercise. I am very pleased with it. And now you are ready to go on to the next.' When you have learned to do quadratics and enjoy doing them you will not be set them much longer. The teacher moves you on.
For we did learn and achieve something. There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry 'masculine' when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man's sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as 'feminine.' But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. 'In the image of God created He them.' Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.
—from A Grief Observed

1957 Jack Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham, united in a civil marriage the previous year, are married in an ecclesiastical ceremony in Wingfield-Morris Hospital by the Rev. Peter Bide. Bide also performs a healing service for Joy, who is believed to be dying of cancer.

March 21

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a lying tongue (6:16-17b).

The plan sounded like a good one. The gentleman had sat down with each of the people at the retirement village and explained their policy to them. The cash changed hands, the policies were signed, receipts were given, but that was the last any of them ever heard from the gentleman. He had taken advantage of their situation and made them separate from their hard-earned money. All that could be done was to feel badly that they had been taken in. It was hard to accept that people like that could get away with it. It was a crime.

So often, the deceivers seem to get away with so much. They lie, cheat and steal, and then live it up. It seems that the only ones who get ahead are those who are willing to hurt others to do so. Nothing is farther from the truth. God loves those who will be honest and trustworthy. Lying is abominable in the sight of God, and no one who lives by deception will have any place in His Kingdom. The liar will have to answer to God for what he has done, but those who have lived in the truth will be blessed of God. Men and women who remain true to God's will can rest in the assurance of God's grace.

prayer: Dear Lord, I hope that I keep my tongue from hurting anyone through lies or deceptions. Purify my thoughts and my wits that they may reflect your grace and love. Amen.
22 March

Too Proud to Know God

The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.
In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
—from Mere Christianity

1921 William T. Kirkpatrick, Lewis's beloved tutor (1914-1917), dies at age seventy-one.

March 22

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: and hands that shed innocent blood (6:16-17c).

Just one hundred years ago it was common practice in the western part of the United States to settle differences with drawn guns and knives. The law of the land was survival of the fittest. Justice was decided by whoever held the greatest force and talent at the time. Law officers were often men who wanted nothing more than to shoot other men. During those days many innocent people died at the hands of ruthless gunmen. Men, women and children lived in terror, never knowing which day might be their last.

In every age, in every place there are plenty who live by the rule of violence. Their regard for human life is minimal, and they inflict pain wherever they travel. They are seen as strong, when in fact they are sadly weak. Their power is very temporary, and they will be required to atone for their wrongs one day before God. How much better it is to live a life of peace and love. Peacemakers, the meek, those who mourn, they are blessed in the sight of the Lord. Better to be numbered among the blessed than to fall among the accursed. It may seem that the instigators of violence rule this world, but it is the rule of Christ which is the real power, and it reigns in the hearts of all who believe in Him.

prayer: Rule in my heart with peace and love. Let me do only kindness to those around me, never harm. Grant that I might be protected from the people who would do me harm, yet let me always face others with forgiveness. Amen.
23 March

Forget Yourself

How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say that they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.
—from Mere Christianity

March 23

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations (6:16-18a).

The young teacher crossed the parking lot at the end of a long school day. The week before had been unbelievably difficult. Grades had come out, and that always spelled more pressure for the teachers, especially when there were some who didn't quite make the grade. When the young teacher got to her car, she felt her heart sink. All four of her tires had been slashed. It happened all the time. Living in an urban area and teaching young people who often didn't want to be taught was a constant risk. Every time grades came out, someone decided they were going to "get even." Nothing ever seemed to change. Nothing was ever done to catch the kids who did it. She turned away, disgusted, and went back to the school to call for a ride.

A lot of people live for revenge. They hold grudges, let them burn inside, then explode forth to do whatever damage they can. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." When someone wrongs you, your duty is to forgive, not to punish. If someone has done you an injustice, God will call that person to answer for their actions. Nothing good can come from a spirit of hurt and revenge. It is through forgiveness that God can enter our lives and make everything alright.

prayer: Heavenly Father, pride often causes me to plot in my heart against those who have wronged me. Create in my heart a spirit of forgiveness, that I may do everything in my power to heal with your great healing love. Amen.
24 March

Dictatorship of Pride

It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices [Pride] can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy's Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity—that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.
—from Mere Christianity

1918 Edward "Paddy" Moore, Lewis's army roommate and friend, is reported missing in action. It is later learned that Paddy had been killed in action on March 21, 1918, resisting the German attack at Pargny, France.

March 24

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: feet that be swift in running to mischief (6:16, 18b).

"Boys will be boys," said the mother of two mischievous young children. Her boys were into everything, causing calamity wherever they went. The children would terrorize other boys and girls, but the excuse was always the same. If the pair caused injury or pain, they were rarely scolded; their mother merely laughed it off and chalked it up to youthful exuberance.

There is a difference between the energy of youth and destructive, disruptive behavior. The curiosity of young children is wonderful, but unwatched it can turn to disaster. A child with a package of matches can wreak havoc. There is nothing to be gained by letting children rule their own lives. They need guidance to protect them from things which might hurt them or others.

The same is true of God in our lives. We so often need guidance and wisdom in order to avoid disaster. What may seem harmless to us may in fact be the path to mischief and away from God. It is wise to ask God's help as we weigh in our hearts what is good and fruitful to do and what is bad or destructive. With his help, we may hope to walk in paths of righteousness and avoid calamity.

prayer: There are times, O Lord, when I find myself drawn to do things that I know I should not do. I all too often rush into situations which I should avoid. Please guide my steps and protect me from straying, Father. Amen.
25 March

A Humble Fault

Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the sacred soul to whom Christ says 'Well done,' are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, 'I have pleased him; all is well,' to thinking, 'What a fine person I must be to have done it.' The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming. When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom. That is why vanity, though it is the sort of Pride which shows most on the surface, is really the least bad and most pardonable sort. The vain person wants praise, applause, admiration, too much and is always angling for it. It is a fault, but a child-like and even (in an odd way) a humble fault. It shows that you are not yet completely contented with your own admiration. You value other people enough to want them to look at you. You are, in fact, still human.
—from Mere Christianity

March 25

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a false witness that speaketh lies (6:16, 19a).

The little girl threw herself into a fit, thrashing around on the ground, spitting and ranting. The crowd stood around her in amazement. Wide-eyed the little girl pointed at a woman in the crowd, and immediately the magistrates took hold of her and whisked her off to prison. Thus go many stories of the Salem witch trials in America. The fabrications of a few over-imaginative children took root and grew to monstrous proportions. Men and women lost their lives because of the lies of babes. A lie is the worst form of stealing a person can commit. It robs the victim of credibility and honor. It strikes silently and cruelly, and often it allows no room for defense. When we lie, we display selfishness like no other.

Jesus said that He was the truth. If we want to get close to Christ we must put lies and deceitfulness from our hearts. Our words must be kind and reflect the concern and care of Jesus Christ Himself. When we are honest, we take hold of the truth of Christ and spread it to others that we meet. When we lie, even a little bit, we deny the power of truth and reject the goodness that being honest brings. It is by living honest, straightforward lives that we move closer to God in all His glory.

prayer: I wish that I could be the person you want me to be, Almighty God. I find that I am dishonest, both with you and with myself. Empower me with a spirit of truth, that I might always live honestly and openly in your sight. Amen.
26 March

Diabolical Pride

The real black, diabolical Pride, comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think about you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason; namely, because we care so incomparably more what God thinks. But the Proud man has a different reason for not caring. He says 'Why should I care for the applause of that rabble as if their opinion were worth anything? And even if their opinions were of value, am I the sort of man to blush with pleasure at a compliment like some chit of a girl at her first dance? No, I am an integrated, adult personality. All I have done has been done to satisfy my own ideals—or my artistic conscience—or the traditions of my family—or, in a word, because I'm That Kind of Chap. If the mob like it, let them. They're nothing to me.' In this way real thorough-going pride may act as a check on vanity; for, as I said a moment ago, the devil loves 'curing' a small fault by giving you a great one. We must try not to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity.
—from Mere Christianity

1959 Lewis is elected Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford.

March 26

These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: and he that soweth discord among brethren (6:16, 19b).

The neighborhood gossip got on the phone and eagerly spread the latest dirt. A new neighbor had moved into the area, and the woman could hardly wait to tell her friends what she had seen. "I saw the movers unpack two very large liquor cabinets. I'll bet they drink a lot. And you should have seen the drums and electric guitar that they own. I just know they will play late at night and keep us all awake. You know, you really can't trust young couples these days. They think they own the world." By the time the gossip had spread the word, no one wanted to reach out to welcome the young couple. Frustrated, the young pair felt excluded from the life of their community, and they never could figure out why people treated them so coolly. A year later, the young couple moved away, and they never looked back.

Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if people spent as much time trying to make peace as they do trying to tear apart? A few choice words can turn an entire community away, but likewise, just a few words can pave a smooth road. We must guard against doing anything that might hurt another human being. It is through kindness and compassion that we display the special love that God has given us to share.

prayer: May the words of my mouth always sound sweet and loving. I want to spread peace, not discord. Show me the way, O Lord, that I might help people and show them the love that I would want for myself if I were in their shoes. Amen.
27 March

School Pride

We say in English that a man is 'proud' of his son, or his father, or his school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether 'pride' in this sense is a sin. I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by 'proud of'. Very often, in such sentences, the phrase 'is proud of' means 'has a warm-hearted admiration for'. Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin. But it might, perhaps, mean that the person in question gives himself airs on the ground of his distinguished father, or because he belongs to a famous regiment. This would, clearly, be a fault; but even then, it would be better than being proud simply of himself. To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.
—from Mere Christianity

March 27

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (6:23).

A man worked all his life at a mill which rested at the bottom of a steep mountain. Each evening, after a long, hard day at work, the man would begin his two mile trek up the hill. Many parts of the road were steep and tiring. Sometimes the dirt would soften in the rains to a soft mud, which sucked at the man's shoes and made the climbing all the harder. The man never complained though, for each night, as he neared the house, a warm friendly light shone forth from the window to welcome him home and guide his steps. From far away the light shined; first a pinpoint, but then growing larger into the full glow of a lamplight. For the man, there was no more welcoming sight in all the world. For him, that light was home.

As we grow in our Christian lives, the commandments and laws of God are like that lamplight to our eyes. They guide us and warm us, and fill us with that little something extra which makes our travel easy. God shines His light brightly for all to see. It is within that light that we can truly be at home. There should be no greater feeling in our hearts, than the warmth of God's love shining there.

prayer: Just as when I enter the light after being in darkness it stings my eyes, so too I feel the sting when my sinful soul enters into the light of Your presence. It is a cleansing light, Father, and I ask that you clean my soul in the fire of your most holy love. Amen.
28 March

Point of Contact

We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity—as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble—delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off—getting rid of the false self, with all its 'Look at me' and 'Aren't I a good boy?' and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.
—from Mere Christianity

1960 The Four Loves is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

March 28

For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life (6:26).

A man sat trembling in the back row of a darkened, empty church. Sobs shook his shoulders, and his cries brought a young minister from his office. Seeing the man, the pastor walked up to him and asked if he could be of help. The man looked up, tears streaming down his cheeks, and all he could do was shake his head. Finally, he said, "I've done everything I could do. There's nothing left. I cheated on my wife, and now she's left me. I fought with my daughter and she ran away. My son got busted for drugs. I've lost my job due to absenteeism. No, I think I've done all that can be done. I never spent time with my son, I never said a kind word to my daughter, I betrayed the only woman I've ever loved, and I played around just long enough to lose my job. I did this all to myself."

The man buried his face in his hands and resumed crying. The young pastor stayed with the man, sometimes listening, sometimes talking, sometimes just crying along with the man.

People seem so surprised that the price of sin and selfishness is so high. When we take big risks we must expect big losses. It is through God's grace that we can avoid the pain that sin brings. It is in His will that we find the path which leads to true happiness.

prayer: Dear Lord, help me to take responsibility for my own wrongdoings. Let me know that I can be forgiven for the things I do wrong, and that I can start afresh, if I will just focus my eyes and my soul on You. Amen.
29 March

The First Step

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
—from Mere Christianity

March 29

Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (6:27).

The cub scout troup had waited all spring for the big camping trip to come around. The dozen young boys piled out of the van and began to set up their tents while the adults prepared the evening meal. The camp was set, the meal consumed, and the group settled in around the big campfire for stories and roasted marshmallows. One bag wasn't enough for the group, so the scout master went back to his car to get a second. Before leaving though, he admonished the boys to stay away from the fire. One small fellow, however, was roasting one last marshmallow, which got too soft and fell into the edge of the fames. Without thinking the boy reached to pick it up, and pulled back his hand, alarmed and in pain. The scoutmaster came running back, saying, "What did I tell you?" The young boy denied that he had disobeyed, but the blisters sprouting on his fingers belied his words.

When we fall into sin, it does not simply stay in our own heart. Sin has resulting implications, and they can stretch out in many ways. We may try to deny that we are sinners, but God in His wisdom, sees all and can uncover the "blisters" that sin leaves on our souls. Our coverings bear the burn marks that rise from the fiery passions which occur in our hearts.

prayer: Fire can destroy or purify. Guard me from the fire which consumes, and cover me with the fire which cleanses. Make me pure in the fire of your love, removing from my life the ash and soot of the fires of sin. Amen.
30 March

Humility 101

Screwtape examines the virtue of Humility:
Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By jove! I'm being humble', and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don't try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.
But there are other profitable ways of fixing his attention on the virtue of Humility. By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy wants to turn the man's attention away from self to Him, and to the man's neighbours. All the abjection and self-hatred are designed, in the long run, solely for this end; unless they attain this end they do us little harm; and they may even do us good if they keep the man concerned with himself, and, above all, if self-contempt can be made the starting-point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.
—from The Screwtape Letters

March 30

Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? (6:28).

Two cars rocketed at one another from opposite directions. The idea was to see who was going to "chicken out" first by swerving their car out of the way of the other one. Both cars mounted speed, coming closer and closer. Supposedly, this was a test of courage and poise. Theoretically, one driver would come forth a hero, the other a coward. Ideally, there would be another day for racing. But, as the two cars approached it became clear that something was wrong, Neither driver had the wisdom to turn their wheel. The realization came too late, and both cars met at full speed, their drivers never to test their valor again.

Such is the danger of flirting with disaster. Sin is a trap. We think we can control it, but in fact we are controlled by it. Only after it's too late do we see the error of our ways. The point is simple: When we play with fire, we ultimately will get burned. When we tempt the wages of sin, we receive what we ask for. There is nothing to be gained by seeing how close we can come to sin without feeling its heat. Once we slip over the edge, there is no return. Wisdom comes when we realize that we don't have to prove ourselves to anyone. God knows us completely, and He will give us everything we need.

prayer: There is great danger in sin, O Lord, that I do not even see. It looks appealing to me, and yet I know deep inside that if I reach out for it I will be harmed. Protect me from the wages of sin, and fill me with the life that never ends. Amen.
31 March

Humility, the Wrong End

Screwtape continues his examination of the virtue of Humility:
You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1920 Lewis takes First in Classical Honour Moderations ("Mods")—Greek and Latin texts—and begins reading Literae Humaniores.

March 31

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry (6:30).

A man watched an old woman as she made her way through the town market. As she stood in front of the bread rack, she carefully looked around her, then confident that she was not being watched, she slipped a loaf under the cover of her shawl into a shopping bag. The man rushed to the counter to tell the owner what he had just witnessed. The grocer said to the man, " I know, I know. She's done it for years. She never takes much; only enough to feed herself and her cat. Maybe I shouldn't let her get away with it, but it's the least I can do. She's friendly and kind, and she does nice things for people whenever she can. I would want it done to me if I were in her place. What does it hurt?"

Stealing is never right, but sometimes it makes more sense and we can understand it better when the motive isn't greed. Sometimes we act just like the woman in our spiritual lives. We take only what we need, and we don't pay God anything for what we get. There are many times when we find ourselves so starved spiritually that we take and take and take, but give little back. God understands that, and He knows that by feeding us when we hunger we are being strengthened in a way that will enable us to give to others later on. When we come to a place where we can begin giving what has been given to us, then we are truly pleasing to God.

prayer: Forgive me for the times when I take without offering anything in return. Fill me with what I need to give to others who have not been as fortunate as myself. Give to me that kind and special word that will allow another person to know that they are loved. Amen.
1 April

Humility, the Right End

Screwtape continues his examination of the virtue of Humility:
To anticipate the Enemy's strategy, we must consider his aims. The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love—a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours. For we must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 1957 Joy Gresham Lewis leaves the hospital with little hope of recovery, and is moved to The Kilns as Lewis's wife, joining her sons, David and Douglas.

April 1

But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul (6:32).

Adultery is one of the sins that most people look upon as being the worst. It robs the participant of ability to be honest and at peace. It causes guilt and it undermines the ultimate plan of God that men and women will join together in order that the two shall become one, in spirit, mind and body. It is a selfish act which takes its toll in a number of ways. It trades in the promise of eternal bliss for a moment of physical pleasure. It has so much power to drive people apart and away from God. Its destruction just keeps on going, and it often leads to ruin.

Yet, it is a sin, no worse than any other. All sin drives us from God, and builds a wall that God refuses to break down Himself. To reconcile with God we must make the first move. We must acknowledge our wrongdoing and ask forgiveness for it. God will be faithful to answer, but it is so much easier to rely on his might and power to strengthen us in times of temptation and weakness. If we will carry God with us in our hearts, then we can avoid the unpleasantness that sin can bring. Understanding comes from a close relationship with God. Sin blocks that relationship and leaves us in a darkness of confusion and despair.

prayer: Lift me up, Father, and raise me high above sin and temptation. Keep my eyes centered on You. No more shall I follow the selfish desires of my heart, but in all things I will try to please you. Amen.
2 April

The Primary Sin

Traditional doctrine points to a sin against God, an act of disobedience, not a sin against the neighbour. And certainly, if we are to hold the doctrine of the Fall in any real sense, we must look for the great sin on a deeper and more timeless level than that of social morality.
This sin has been described by Saint Augustine as the result of Pride, of the movement whereby a creature (that is, an essentially dependent being whose principle of existence lies not in itself but in another) tries to set up on its own, to exist for itself. Such a sin requires no complex social conditions, no extended experience, no great intellectual development. From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it. This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it.
—from The Problem of Pain

April 2

My son keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart (7:1-3).

There was a man who spent all his days sitting by an old firehouse, telling stories to the neighborhood children. The youngsters would flock around the man to hear him tell of bygone days. One striking feature of the old gentleman was that around each of his fingers he had tied a different colored string. The children would ask what the strings were there for, and the old man would say that each one was to remind him of something important. This was the way he remembered things. But for everyone who came to him, he had this to share.

"You don't need strings to remember the most important things. God gave us ten fingers and ten commandments. If you keep one commandment on each finger, then you'll never forget any of them."

The commandments of God should be as much a part of us as the fingers which are part of our hands. If we take care to remind ourselves of the laws of God, then they will be forever inscribed on the very "table" of our heart.

prayer: I continue to forget the things I should do. Help me to remember what you would have me do. I cannot hope to be the person you want me to be without your help. Amen.
3 April

The Gentle Slope to Nothing

Screwtape reveals Nothing:
The Christians describe the Enemy as one 'without whom Nothing is strong'. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1960 After learning of the return of Joy's cancer, Jack and Joy vacation in Greece with Roger Lancelyn and his wife, Joy.

April 3

Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman (7:4).

There were two sisters, as opposite as night and day. The older sister was quiet and obedient, never causing trouble and helping others whenever possible. The young sister was a bit more wild, attending loud parties and staying out late. She rarely lifted a finger to help out. Though the two girls had little in common, the younger sister always looked to her sibling for acceptance and advice. The younger girl knew that her sister loved her and would always do what she thought was in her best interest.

Wisdom, true wisdom which comes to us directly from God, is as trustworthy as the older sister. The truth of God is constant; never changing. When we learn to trust completely in God's promises to us, we grasp hold of Him in all His glory, and we find new meaning in the word wisdom.

Family ties are some of the strongest we will ever experience. Blood ties cannot be broken, and we have been tied to God once and for all by the blood of Christ; blood freely given to make us one with the Lord for all time.

prayer: I feel the warm acceptance of God, just as I am. I can be myself with God, just as I can be myself at home, with my family. Thank you, Father, that you have made this so. Amen.
4 April

Closer to God—or Closer to Hell?

Screwtape expands on fundamental sins:
You complain that my last letter does not make it clear whether I regard being in love as a desirable state for a human or not. But really Wormwood, that is the sort of question one expects them to ask! Leave them to discuss whether 'Love', or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are 'good' or 'bad'. Can't you see there's no answer? Nothing matters at all except the tendency of a given state of mind, in given circumstances, to move a particular patient at a particular moment nearer to the Enemy or nearer to us. Thus it would be quite a good thing to make the patient decide that 'Love' is 'good' or 'bad'. If he is an arrogant man with a contempt for the body really based on delicacy but mistaken by him for purity—and one who takes pleasure in flouting what most of his fellows approve—by all means let him decide against love. Instil into him an overweening asceticism and then, when you have separated his sexuality from all that might humanise it, weigh in on him with it in some much more brutal and cynical form. If, on the other hand, he is an emotional, gullible man, feed him on minor poets and fifth-rate novelists of the old school until you have made him believe that 'Love' is both irresistible and somehow intrinsically meritorious. This belief is not much help, I grant you, in producing casual unchastity; but it is an incomparable recipe for prolonged, 'noble', romantic, tragic adulteries, ending, if all goes well, in murders and suicides.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 4

and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding (7:7).

A small girl set about preparing a menu for her pretend birthday party. She planned a full meal of cookies, cake, candy, ice cream and potato chips. To drink there would be lemonade and soda. Her choices were made from her own affection for the treats, but no thought was given to what might be nutritious or keep her from getting sick. Children many times fail to use good sense when they make their decisions. They need guidance in order to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. Sometimes children resist the advice of their parents, but they need it nonetheless.

When we compare our wisdom with God's, we find that we are simple and dull in relation. We have neither the experience of God, nor the insight. His knowledge so far exceeds our own that we seem naive and inept. Luckily, God offers His wisdom and knowledge with no strings attached. He does so out of love for us, and He only wants us to avoid the pitfalls that come our way. Christian maturity comes when we can admit that we need help, and accept the aid God so freely offers.

prayer: Break my spirit of resistance. Help me to be obedient to your will, Father, as a loving and faithful child. Amen.
5 April

A Matter of Meanings

Screwtape examines the matter of Unselfishness:
The grand problem is that of 'Unselfishness'. Note, once again, the admirable work of our Philological Arm in substituting the negative unselfishness for the Enemy's positive Charity. Thanks to this you can, from the very outset, teach a man to surrender benefits not that others may be happy in having them but that he may be unselfish in forgoing them. That is a great point gained. Another great help, where the parties concerned are male and female, is the divergence of view about Unselfishness which we have built up between the sexes. A woman means by Unselfishness chiefly taking trouble for others; a man means not giving trouble to others. As a result, a woman who is quite far gone in the Enemy's service will make a nuisance of herself on a larger scale than any man except those whom Our Father has dominated completely; and, conversely, a man will live long in the Enemy's camp before he undertakes as much spontaneous work to please others as a quite ordinary woman may do every day. Thus while the woman thinks of doing good offices and the man of respecting other people's rights, each sex, without any obvious unreason, can and does regard the other as radically selfish.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 5

He goeth after the harlot straightaway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life (7:22-23).

The teenagers lined the fence outside the schoolyard. They knew someone would be by with what they called the "goodies." Any drug a person could want was available every day of the week. One of the boys had been having terrible reactions to the drugs he had been taking, but he waited anyway. He was hooked. It didn't matter that it was wrong or illegal or dangerous. All he knew was that he had to have it.

Drugs are a tragedy in our world. They destroy so many lives. And for that reason, they are a lot like sin. For some people, sin isn't something they are attracted by, it is something they are addicted to. Just like drugs, though, if it isn't cleaned out of the system it can kill. Often we ignore the ramifications of the sins we easily fall prey to. Before we know it, we pass the point of no return. The time to turn is now; turn to God, and away from the sins which can only lead to death.

prayer: Almighty God, sin so readily takes control of my heart and mind. Alone, I cannot begin to battle it, but with You I know that I can break free to follow in Your love. Help me I pray. Amen.
6 April

The Unselfishness Game

Screwtape's gleeful tale of the unselfish family:
This game is best played with more than two players, in a family with grown-up children for example. Something quite trivial, like having tea in the garden, is proposed. One member takes care to make it quite clear (though not in so many words) that he would rather not but is, of course, prepared to do so out of 'Unselfishness'. The others instantly withdraw their proposal, ostensibly through their 'Unselfishness', but really because they don't want to be used as a sort of lay figure on which the first speaker practises petty altruisms. But he is not going to be done out of his debauch of Unselfishness either. He insists on doing 'what the others want'. They insist on doing what he wants. Passions are roused. Soon someone is saying 'Very well then, I won't have any tea at all!', and a real quarrel ensues with bitter resentment on both sides. You see how it is done? If each side had been frankly contending for its own real wish, they would all have kept within the bounds of reason and courtesy; but just because the contention is reversed and each side is fighting the other side's battle, all the bitterness which really flows from thwarted self-righteousness and obstinacy and the accumulated grudges of the last ten years is concealed from them by the nominal or official 'Unselfishness' of what they are doing or, at least, held to be excused by it. .... A sensible human once said, 'If people knew how much ill-feeling Unselfishness occasions, it would not be so often recommended from the pulpit'; and again, 'She's the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression.'
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 6

Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things (8:6).

There was a woman that everyone dearly loved. She never lacked for company, because so many people flocked to spend time with her. She had the ability to engage anyone, old or young, male or female, black or white, intelligent or simple, in delightful conversation. With a beautiful voice she would tell stories of bygone days, and share dreams and wishes with anyone who would listen. She was full of compliments, but never empty flattery. In every situation, she knew the perfect thing to say. In trouble, she spoke words that soothed, in times of stress she spoke words of comfort, and in good times, she knew the perfect joke or anecdote to share.

The gift of speech is a valuable one. It also carries with it great responsibility. We are commanded to avoid silly or coarse speech, but to always use words to uplift and praise. Our words should reflect the presence of God in our hearts. Only the most excellent and right things should spring forth from our mouths.

prayer: Let the words of my mouth always produce what is pleasing in your sight, O Lord. Let me build up, rather than tear down. May my speech reflect my great love for you. Amen.
7 April

Half-Hearted Desires

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
—from "The Weight of Glory" (The Weight of Glory)

April 7

For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips (8:7).

A young woman went to work at a church where youth ministry had never gone very well. The woman had no previous experience with young people, but her enthusiasm convinced everyone that she was a good choice. Over the first few months of her employment, the group grew slowly. However, the growth was continuous. The pastor of the church stopped in to see what the young woman was doing that was so successful. He saw nothing extraordinary, so he stayed after to talk with the woman.

"I've been around a long time. I've seen some good youth leaders, and I've seen some bad, but I've never seen one who has built the group like you have. What's your secret?"

"The kids know I care. They can trust me. No matter what happens, they know I won't lie to them or about them. That's all."

Truth and honesty are important if we hope to have good, strong relationships. God loves truth, and those who commit themselves to it are blessed in the eyes of God. We can hardly please God more than when we speak truth in love.

prayer: Lord of truth and light, be the guiding force of my life. Help me to avoid lies, which destroy relationships and create walls between people. Fill me with your love. Amen.
8 April

A Gradual Turning

Screwtape reiterates his premise:
Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the 'cause', in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more 'religious' (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 8

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge (8:8-9).

The crew of young doctors cowered under the tongue-lashing given to them by the chief-of-surgeons. Each doctor knew that their mentor was right, but it was difficult to receive such harsh criticism. Each doctor also knew that the only reason the chief surgeon was so tough was to make sure they were the best they could be. The man demanded perfection, and he wasn't going to settle for less. Only doctors who wanted to be the best could stand to take the kind of scrutiny the chief surgeon put them under. No matter what else might happen, each new doctor knew that they would receive truth and guidance from the older man. They trusted him because they knew he was doing everything he knew to do to make them the best they could be.

How willing are we to place ourselves in positions to be criticized? It is hard to invite others to tell us what we do wrong and how we can improve. Yet, if we want to grow, we need to have criticism given to us. The Lord offers us guidance as we try to grow, and we can be sure that it will be given to us with the greatest love, even though it is often hard to acknowledge that we are lacking. Thank goodness that God is so patient with us, and that He gives us time to change and grow.

prayer: Help me to trust the wise counsel of others. I know that I have so much room to grow. Grant that I might have the wisdom to accept the helpful criticism of others and make me to seek your ways. Amen.
9 April

The Horror of the Same Old Thing

Screwtape reveals a powerful tool for distraction:
What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call 'Christianity And'. You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.
The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1973 Warren Hamilton Lewis, C. S. Lewis's older brother, dies at age seventy-eight at The Kilns, Oxford.

April 9

Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it (8:10-11).

In the mid-eighteen hundreds, thousands of men and women sold everything they had in order to move westward in the great gold rush. Gold fever took hold and pushed people to extremes. People were willing to kill in order to protect their claims to land in the goldfields. The hale and hearty devoted themselves heart, mind and soul to the pursuit of the golden nuggets. All else was considered loss, and many individuals found themselves in ruin, because they had been blinded by a glitter which led straight to disaster.

The attractive glitter of gold, the enticing appeal of wealth has drawn many people toward it, and away from God. Christ said that no one could be the servant of two masters. When we become enthralled by money and all it can buy, we cannot devote our attention to God. The two are diametrically opposed. If only people would pursue God with the same energy that they pursue the glitter of gold. The result would be Christians who gave themselves completely to the loving will of God, and the world would begin to be more the way God intended it to be from the very beginning. It is a choice each Christian has to make, but it is good to remember that the reward in heaven outshines any that we may ever hope to find on earth.

prayer: Father, I pray that I might learn to pursue you with every energy of my heart and soul. Be my strength, that I might be able to give myself completely over to your will. Amen.
10 April

The Demand for Novelty

Screwtape shows how the pleasure of change is corrupted into a demand for novelty:
Now just as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating too produce gluttony, so we pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty. This demand is entirely our workmanship. If we neglect our duty, men will be not only contented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrise this morning, plum pudding this Christmas. Children, until we have taught them better, will be perfectly happy with a seasonal round of games in which conkers succeed hopscotch as regularly as autumn follows summer. Only by our incessant efforts is the demand for infinite, or unrhythmical, change kept up.
This demand is valuable in various ways. In the first place it diminishes pleasure while increasing desire. The pleasure of novelty is by its very nature more subject than any other to the law of diminishing returns. And continued novelty costs money, so that the desire for it spells avarice or unhappiness or both. And again, the more rapacious this desire, the sooner it must eat up all the innocent sources of pleasure and pass on to those the Enemy forbids. Thus by inflaming the horror of the Same Old Thing we have recently made the Arts, for example, less dangerous to us than, perhaps, they have ever been, 'low-brow' and 'high-brow' artists alike being now daily drawn into fresh, and still fresh, excesses of lasciviousness, unreason, cruelty, and pride.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 10

I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions (8:12).

A powerful businessman was always looking for ways to cut corners. Any shortcut, any cost cutting methods he could find, he would use. It didn't matter whether or not the cuts hurt quality or endangered employees. All that mattered was making the most money for the least cost. For awhile, things worked well, but as time passed, more and more people lost faith in the products that the man's companies produced, and finally he faced financial ruin. All the shortcuts he took seemed to lead to the reward he desired, but in fact, they destroyed the hope of reaching his dream.

There are no short-cuts to wisdom. The knowledge of the heart comes to us from patience, experience, and prayerful reflection. God wishes this wisdom for all of His children, but it comes only over time. Patience is a difficult virtue to obtain, but its rewards are greater than we can begin to comprehend. Short-cuts may look promising in the near future, but it is the person who learns the benefits of waiting who is on the road to true wisdom. It is so pleasing to God when He sees us grow spiritually, and the best way we can show that growth is to learn to say, with Jesus, "Not my will be done, O Father, but yours be done, now and forever. Amen."

prayer: Keep my feet on the right path, O Lord. Keep me from straying onto roads which seem to be easier to travel, but lead nowhere. As long as your light shines forth before me, I know that all will be well. Amen.
11 April

The Thrill Is Gone

What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening.
This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow—and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.
—from Mere Christianity

April 11

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (8:13).

An extremely competent woman joined a small church, and within a short time was a key figure in the running of programs and events. Everything she turned her hand to came out successfully. For a time, people welcomed her enthusiasm and commitment. After awhile, however, fewer and fewer people supported her in her efforts. The reason for their defection was simple: they couldn't tolerate her attitude. She never let anyone forget all the wonderful things she had done for the church. She rattled on endlessly about how talented she was, and good she was at getting things accomplished better than anyone else. She loved the spotlight, and resisted sharing it with anyone. The other members of the church quite simply didn't want to be around her.

It's a sad thing that some people need attention and acceptance so much that they give it to themselves rather than allowing others to give it to them. If we do things simply for the appreciation they bring, then we are doing them for the wrong reason. We should give of our gifts and talents because it is pleasing to God, not because it will earn us respect or praise. God has given us many fine abilities, and it is important that we remember to use them for His service, not caring whether we receive praise or not.

prayer: My pride is too often tender and easily bruised. Make me able to serve without hope of reward. I want to serve you freely and without letting my ego get in the way. Guide me in this pursuit. Amen.
12 April

My Time Is My Own

Screwtape outlines a fundamental deception:
Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 12

Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth (8:14-16).

Solomon was considered to be the wisest of all human beings. His judgement was sound and fair. Subjects traveled from all over Israel to seek his counsel. His word was law, because people believed that there was no greater mind in all the world. Whatever Solomon decreed, the people gladly accepted. Solomon did nothing more than use the gifts God had given him in the best way possible. Solomon relied heavily on God's guidance and help. He prayed long and hard for God to inspire him with special wisdom. Solomon listened at length to the scribes who read to him from the Scriptures. He was ever questing after a deeper knowledge of God.

Solomon was able to give great wisdom because he was in touch with the source of wisdom: God. As much as Solomon was willing to give himself to God, God was willing to give Himself right back. God showed that He was willing to do the same for us, by giving Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. All we need to do is accept His gift, and try to the best of our ability to follow His example. Like Solomon, we receive strength and understanding from the God who gives us all good things.

prayer: Lord, I wish that I could be one with your Spirit, that I might spread your will in this world. You offer so much, and I take so little. Help me to use what you hold forth, that I might reflect the blessed light of your Son Jesus Christ throughout this world. Amen.
13 April

Uninspected Assumptions

Screwtape instructs Wormwood on muddled thinking:
The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defence. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels. He is also, in theory, committed to a total service of the Enemy; and if the Enemy appeared to him in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would be greatly relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the Enemy said 'Now you may go and amuse yourself'. Now if he thinks about his assumption for a moment, even he is bound to realise that he is actually in this situation every day. When I speak of preserving this assumption in his mind, therefore, the last thing I mean you to do is to furnish him with arguments in its defence. There aren't any. Your task is purely negative. Don't let his thoughts come anywhere near it. Warp a darkness about it, and in the centre of that darkness let his sense of ownership-in-Time lie silent, uninspected, and operative.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 13

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me (8:17).

A young girl disappeared on her way home from school. Her parents were in a panic, and they called the police to help find her. After two days of searching, the police put her in a file, and the parents went away depressed. On their own, they decided that they would do anything necessary to find their little girl. They began a search of their own. For six years they dedicated themselves to the recovery of their only child. After long years of desperately hoping and endlessly searching, the pair found their daughter, living just a few miles away with the woman who had abducted her. Many times in the six years the couple had wanted to give up. Repeatedly, they faced feelings of futility and frustration. In spite of impossible odds, and lack of assistance, the pair found their daughter, and were reunited at long last.

When something is the desire of our heart, it should possess us totally. How many of us pursue God with the same diligence as the young couple pursued their daughter? God wants us to do so. Nothing pleases Him more than knowing that we love Him totally and completely. If we will seek God, with our whole being, His promise is that we will find Him.

prayer: Sometimes I lose patience when I wait for you to answer my prayers, O Lord. Give me the patience I so desperately need. Help me to pursue you in all ways at all times. Thank you for your promise to always be there when I seek you. Amen.
14 April

Nuances of Ownership

Screwtape encourages confusion and pride:
The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so. Much of the modem resistance to chastity comes from men's belief that they 'own' their bodies—those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another! It is as if a royal child whom his father has placed, for love's sake, in titular command of some great province, under the real rule of wise counsellors, should come to fancy he really owns the cities, the forests, and the corn, in the same way as he owns the bricks on the nursery floor.
We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun—the finely graded differences that run from 'my boots' through 'my dog', 'my servant', 'my wife', 'my father', 'my master' and 'my country', to 'my God'. They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of 'my boots', the 'my' of ownership.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 14

I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures (8:20-21).

A poor woman called her children to her soon before her death. She sat them down and told them, "I never had money or nice things, and I'm sorry that I don't have good things to leave you, but I always tried to do what was right by you. If I brought you up right, so that you do what you know is right to do, then I have left you more than any amount of money."

The woman was right. The things money buys are temporal, they wear out, break down, and then they're gone. A good sense of values is worth more than all the money in the world. The greatest gift we can hope to give another human being is that of wise counsel. We often hope that we can leave a legacy, a testament to our life, after we die. There is no more fitting legacy than helping other people learn to love life and enjoy it every day. We can make our lives an example of the truth of Christ, letting others see just how much Christ can change lives for the better. He will "lead us in the paths of righteousness," but only so that we might have something of substance, something that will last long after our material wealth has gone. That is the real treasure, and God gives it freely to all who will take it.

prayer: I try to turn my eyes from material gain, to true gain: the gain of eternal life. Help me to follow your instructions that I might have your righteousness. Grant me a small portion of your holy inheritance. Amen.
15 April

Mine, Mine, Mine

Screwtape acknowledges the truth about ownership:
Even in the nursery a child can be taught to mean by 'my teddy bear' not the old imagined recipient of affection to whom it stands in a special relation (for that is what the Enemy will teach them to mean if we are not careful) but 'the bear I can pull to pieces if I like'. And at the other end of the scale, we have taught men to say 'my God' in a sense not really very different from 'my boots', meaning 'the God on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services and whom I exploit from the pulpit—the God I have done a corner in'.
And all the time the joke is that the word 'Mine' in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say 'Mine' of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong—certainly not to them, whatever happens. At present the Enemy says 'Mine' of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it: Our Father hopes in the end to say 'Mine' of all things on the more realistic and dynamic ground of conquest.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1918 Lewis is wounded by a British shell on Mount Berenchon during the Battle of Arras.

April 15

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth (8:22-25).

When God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, He said, "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest fourth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jer. 1:5)

The mind of God is amazing. From the very beginning of time, God has had each and every one of us in mind. He knows us completely. There is never even one moment when we are out of God's vision.

When we talk of the day we became Christian, what we are really speaking of is the day that we came back to God. It is we who turn from Him and walk down other paths, but we can rest assured that whenever we come back to God's way, He will be right there waiting for us. He rejoices when we walk in the paths of righteousness, and He mourns for us when we fall onto paths which lead from His glory. We can't fool God, because He knows us so well. Thank goodness there's no reason to even try.

prayer: O Lord, you know me so much better that I knew myself. Help me to know myself as you know me. Assist me to be the best person I can possibly be. Just help me to grow, Father. Amen.
16 April

A Mother's Love

A Ghost argues with the Bright Spirit who was her brother Reginald:
'It's a lie. A wicked, cruel lie. How could anyone love their son more than I did? Haven't I lived only for his memory all these years?'
'That was rather a mistake, Pam. In your heart of hearts you know it was.'
'What was a mistake?'
'All that ten years' ritual of grief. Keeping his room exactly as he'd left it; keeping anniversaries; refusing to leave that house though Dick and Muriel were both wretched there.'
'Of course they didn't care. I know that. I soon learned to expect no real sympathy from them.'
'You're wrong. No man ever felt his son's death more than Dick. Not many girls loved their brothers better than Muriel. It wasn't against Michael they revolted: it was against you—against having their whole life dominated by the tyranny of the past: and not really even Michael's past, but your past.'
'You are heartless. Everyone is heartless. The past was all I had.'
'It was all you chose to have. It was the wrong way to deal with a sorrow. It was Egyptian—like embalming a dead body.'
'Oh, of course. I'm wrong. Everything I say or do is wrong, according to you.'
'But of course!' said the Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my eyes were dazzled. 'That's what we all find when we reach this country. We've all been wrong! That's the great joke. There's no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.'
—from The Great Divorce

April 16

When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep (8:27-28).
The three weeks before the trip seemed to drag on, and the little boy counted the days until his uncle came to pick him up. His uncle was going to take him out of the city to drive across the country to California. It was as exciting as a trip to the moon.
The day for the start of the trip came, and the pair set out on their adventure. When the trip was over, the little boy was asked what had been the best part of the trip. Without hesitation, he said, "The Grand Canyon!" When asked why, the boy said, "My uncle said that you could see all the layers of time which have gone by by looking at the stripes in the rock. He told me that the very first layer was put there by God, and that God was there when every other layer was laid on top. But you know what? He also said that before God ever started making the Grand Canyon, He started thinking of me and loving me!"
We may look on our world with wonder and amazement, but nothing is more amazing than the fact that it was all made for us, out of God's infinite love for us. We owe Him thanks and praise every day, for giving so much.
prayer: O Lord of majesty and grace, you have indeed created a beautiful world for our comfort and joy. Thank you for sharing this great gift with me. Help me to appreciate it more fully, and to care for it with wisdom. Amen.
17 April

Domestic Tyranny

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife Joy:
Keeping promises to the dead, or to anyone else, is very well. But I begin to see that 'respect for the wishes of the dead' is a trap. Yesterday I stopped myself only in time from saying about some trifle 'H. wouldn't have liked that.' This is unfair to the others. I should soon be using 'what H. would have liked' as an instrument of domestic tyranny, with her supposed likings becoming a thinner and thinner disguise for my own.
—from A Grief Observed

April 17

when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men (8:29-31).

"Even if there is a God, how do I know I can trust Him?" a skeptical young woman asked. "I mean, we must assume an awful lot to think that He can know everything that is going on."

This poor woman suffers from a very common affliction: doubt. How can we know that God watches everything that goes on? We do so by faith.

Jesus Christ came that we might have a way to remove all doubt that God works all things for good. Christ assured us that God indeed watches over all people and that He reigns wisely and with justice. Christ Himself was present with God in creation. Christ dwelt with God, and when He came He proclaimed the truth of God for all people. The truth of God comes to each person individually through their relationship with Christ. If we will only open our hearts to Christ, we will no more need to doubt and question. We may rest in the knowledge that Christ is Lord, and that God is with us all the time.

prayer: O Lord of creation and love, You rise above time and space to dwell everywhere and everytime at once. You hear even my most quiet cry. Help me to trust in your truth and reality. Answer my every doubt with "I am." Amen.
18 April

God at Her Elbow

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
On the other hand, 'Knock and it shall be opened.' But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? And there's also 'To him that hath shall be given.' After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can't give. Perhaps your own passion temporarily destroys the capacity.
For all sorts of mistakes are possible when you are dealing with Him. Long ago, before we were married, H. was haunted all one morning as she went about her work with the obscure sense of God (so to speak) 'at her elbow,' demanding her attention. And of course, not being a perfected saint, she had the feeling that it would be a question, as it usually is, of some unrepented sin or tedious duty. At last she gave in—I know how one puts it off—and faced Him. But the message was, 'I want to give you something' and instantly she entered into joy.
—from A Grief Observed

1915 Helen Joy Davidman is born in New York City.

April 18

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors (8:34).

A security guard worked at the same job, watching the gate of a chemical plant, for fifteen years. For that entire time, no one had ever tried to break into the plant. The guard watched television, read books and magazines, drank sodas, and walked the ground. Often, he would doze off, passing the long, tedious hours in slumber. It hadn't always been that way. When he was first hired, he had sat alertly at his post, making his rounds promptly and completely. He had spent hours working on ways to improve security at the factory. That hadn't lasted long. The dull routine of the work, and the late hours took their toll. As time passed, so did the guard's enthusiasm.

One night, while the guard slept, three men broke into the plant and made off with thousands of dollars worth of valuable chemicals and drugs. In an instant, the guard lost his position because of his inattention when it mattered most.

Christians need to take heed. Our attention must be on the Lord. We never know what might lie ahead, and so we should consciously try to be the best we can be in all circumstances. If we live each day as if it were the day we would meet our Maker, then we won't be embarrassed on the day it finally comes.

prayer: I pray that I might be alert and fully awake to my duties as your loving disciple. As I follow your will, let me not grow weary or tired, but fill me with every energy that I might be ready when my time comes. Amen.
19 April

Signs of Attrition

Screwtape advises Wormwood on using time to wear down a soul:
The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations. But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it—all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition. If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it', while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1943 Christian Behaviour: A Further Series of Broadcast Talks is published by Geoffrey Bles/The Centenary Press, London.

April 19

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death (8:35-36).

A young man sat, trembling, in the police station. He had been picked up for shoplifting, and now he waited for his parents who were on their way to pick him up. Being arrested was frightening and embarrassing, but it wasn't half as bad as having to face his mother and father. As they burst through the door, the young man saw that his mother had been crying. He bowed his head in shame and awaited the fury to come from his parents.

Instead, he felt his mother's arm wrap around his shoulders, and his father's big, warm hand on top of his head. He looked up through tears and saw that both his parents were watching him with love and concern.

The boy asked, "Aren't you angry with me? Why aren't you yelling at me?"

The mother spoke up, "Honey, when you hurt we only want to help you. You've done wrong, but that doesn't mean we stop loving you. What you did hurts us, but we'll work it out together."

God loves us every bit as much. No matter what happens, if we work to find God, we will find love like we never thought possible.

prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I fall prey to so much temptation and sin. I am ashamed that I cannot do what You would like for me to do. Thank you for your forgivenss and love, especially in times when I don't deserve it. Amen.
20 April

Unravelling Souls

Screwtape's observations on how long life on earth can enhance Hell's work:
The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off at a tangent. Even if we contrive to keep them ignorant of explicit religion, the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry—the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon—are always blowing our whole structure away. They will not apply themselves steadily to worldly advancement, prudent connections, and the policy of safety first. So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or 'science' or psychology, or what not. Real worldliness is a work of time—assisted, of course, by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as good sense or Maturity or Experience. Experience, in the peculiar sense we teach them to give it, is, by the by, a most useful word. A great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned, 'Experience is the mother of illusion'; but thanks to a change in Fashion, and also, of course, to the Historical Point of View, we have largely rendered his book innocuous.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1943 Perelandra (the second volume of Lewis's Space Trilogy) is published by The Bodley Head; London.

April 20

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table (9:1-2).

When I first began my ministry, I did so as a student in seminary. I had never served people officially before, and it surprised me when I was treated with so much respect and consideration. People showed that they had faith in me and it helped me to be able to minister to them; many of whom were much older than I was. I was treated royally, and was a little embarrassed because I didn't think I deserved it.

When we come into God's presence we may find ourselves surprised at how well God treats us. We come to Him as sinners, ashamed and afraid, and He treats us like kings and queens. We are not strangers who receive the lesser quality, but we are sons and daughters, welcomed home, and treated to only the best. God lays out the finest for His children, and it doesn't matter that we are undeserving. Children rarely deserve the love their parents have for them, but love, true love, cannot be earned. Love is a gift, and God freely gives His love to each and every child who will accept it. All we must do is accept the gift, not earn it. Wisdom comes to those who don't question the giver, but accept the gift with gratitude.

prayer: Gracious and giving God, I cannot give you great enough thanks for all you offer to me, a humble child. Help me to give others some of the precious, unconditional love that you have given me. Amen.
21 April

The Secret Thread

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw—but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported. Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of—something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side?
—from The Problem of Pain

1905 The Lewis family—Albert, Flora, Warnie, and Jack—moves from Dundela Villas to Little Lea, on the outskirts of Belfast.

April 21

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding (9:4-6).

At a youth camp, a young crippled girl found that she did not fit in. Her affliction caused her not only physical deformity, but it also affected her speech. The other children, unwittingly cruel, mocked her and refused to let her participate in their activities. Even the counselors excluded her from many activities and games, thinking that she was incapable of joining in. On the final day of the camp, the young girl sat in the large circle of campers. Each was asked to share something from the week that had passed.

When it came to the girl, she looked around the circle and labored to say, "You haven't been very nice to me. Some of you wouldn't even talk to me. Because I'm weak and talk funny you acted like I was retarded and you made fun of me. That's okay. You know why? Because Jesus loves me, and that's all that really matters. And I'm not mad at you because He wants me to try to love you, because He loves you." The group sat still in a long, awkward silence.

Wisdom is the knowledge that God does love us, and that there is nothing greater in all the world. If only more people were as special as the little girl.

prayer: O Father, I am crippled in so many spiritual and emotional ways. Through your love, grant that I might rise above my limitations and become a more loving and caring person. Amen.
22 April

The Hint of More

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it—tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest—if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself—you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.
—from The Problem of Pain

April 22

He that reproveth a scorner getteth himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee (9:7-8).

A woman was given a project to do for a large advertising agency. She selected two other woman to work with her on the project. The supervising woman worked closely with the other two for weeks, and finally a finished product was presented to the clients for approval. The project came back with comments, and a list of changes were called for. The supervisor called in the two other women and shared the list. One of the women sat calmly and listened to the proposal, while the other woman flew into a rage. She felt that she was being insulted and she criticized the clients for not knowing good work when they saw it. When the supervisor defended the clients' rights, the woman slammed down her portfolio and stormed from the office saying that she quit.

If we can't take criticism we cannot hope to grow. Growth comes from finding our weaknesses and working to build them into strengths. When we try to help people who aren't willing to admit they can grow they deal with us in anger. When God calls for us to change, how will we react to His request? Will it be with anger, or will it be with humble obedience?

prayer: Often pride gets in the way of my maturing spiritually, O Lord. Help me to receive criticism with grace, and to work always to improve myself. Soften my heart to the comments of others, and let me deal with others in love and care. Amen.
23 April

A Most Complete Wife

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife Joy:
For a good wife contains so many persons in herself. What was H. not to me? She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend (and I have good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more. If we had never fallen in love we should have none the less been always together, and created a scandal. That's what I meant when I once praised her for her 'masculine virtues.' But she soon put a stop to that by asking how I'd like to be praised for my feminine ones. It was a good riposte, dear. Yet there was something of the Amazon, something of Penthesileia and Camilla. And you, as well as I, were glad it should be there. You were glad I should recognize it.
Solomon calls his bride Sister. Could a woman be a complete wife unless, for a moment, in one particular mood, a man felt almost inclined to call her Brother?
—from A Grief Observed

1956 Jack Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham are married in a civil ceremony at the registry office on St. Giles Street, Oxford.

April 23

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (9:9).

A college professor laid out his philosophy of teaching on the very first day of classes. "If you will let me, I will teach you as much as I can in these few short weeks, but if you resist me, I guarantee that you will learn nothing. You won't like everything I tell you, but if you will follow my instructions, you will leave here much better thinkers than when you came in."

The professor was a task master, who demanded perfection from his students. Many students, too lazy to put forth the proper effort, lost interest and complained about the strict grading and harsh comments. The few truly dedicated students found their professor to be one of the finest they ever had, and they valued his opinion above all others. This man helped them to be better than they thought possible.

God offers us the same kind of deal. If we will be open to His leadership, He will help us to realize our full potential. If we resist His help, then we can never hope to reach that goal. Wise men and women got to be that way by listening and trying to improve themselves. They are never content with who they are today, but they always look forward to what they can become.

prayer: May I grow a little bit today, and every day to come, Almighty God. Let me keep my ego in its place, never refusing to hear the things I should hear, in order that I might improve myself. Amen.
24 April

A World Starving

No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as "what a man does with his solitude." It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Christianity is already institutional in the earliest of its documents. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are members of one another.
In our own age the idea that religion belongs to our private life—that it is, in fact, an occupation for the individual's hour of leisure—is at once paradoxical, dangerous, and natural. It is paradoxical because this exaltation of the individual in the religious field springs up in an age when collectivism is ruthlessly defeating the individual in every other field. .... There is a crowd of busybodies, self-appointed masters of ceremonies, whose life is devoted to destroying solitude wherever solitude still exits. They call it "taking the young people out of themselves," or "waking them up," or "overcoming their apathy." If an Augustine, a Vaughan, a Traherne, or a Wordsworth should be born in the modern world, the leaders of a youth organization would soon cure him. If a really good home, such as the home of Alcinous and Arete in the Odyssey or the Rostovs in War and Peace or any of Charlotte M. Yonge's families, existed today, it would be denounced as bourgeois and every engine of destruction would be levelled against it. And even where the planners fail and someone is left physically by himself, the wireless has seen to it that he will be—in a sense not intended by Scipio—never less alone than when alone. We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

April 24

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it (9:10-12).

A young woman took a job at a zoo tending animals. Her third week on the job, she was shown how to feed the lions, tigers and other big cats. Large portions of meat were stabbed by long spears, and then they were stuck through the bars of the cages to the animals. While in training, a piece of meat slipped from the end, and lay half in and half out of the cage. The woman moved up and reached to pick up the meat. The lion inside the cage growled and pounced against the bars, reaching through and badly scratching the young woman. Her trainer rushed over and said, "Don't ever do that. Use the stick. If you had been closer and the cat's reach a little longer, you wouldn't be here now. I hope you remember that scratch the rest of your life."

In so many situations we feel that we are in control, that nothing can happen to us. We forget how truly fragile we are. We become complacent and lose our fear, our respect, for things we should remember about. The fear of the Lord is nothing more than knowing who He is and respecting Him. If we learn that fear, all our days will be long, and our lives will be safe and happy.

prayer: O Lord, help me to keep from letting down my guard for even one minute. Open my eyes to my limitations and grant that I might acknowledge my shortcomings. Only you are God, and I worship and praise you with all my heart. Amen.
25 April

Welcome to the Family

The very word membership is of Christian origin, but it has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning. In any book on logic you may see the expression "members of a class." It must be most emphatically stated that the items or particulars included in a homogeneous class are almost the reverse of what St. Paul meant by members. By members .... he meant what we should call organs, things essentially different from, and complementary to, one another, things differing not only in structure and function but also in dignity. .... How true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective may be seen in the structure of a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog, and the cat are true members (in the organic sense), precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable. Each person is almost a species in himself. The mother is not simply a different person from the daughter; she is a different kind of person. The grown-up brother is not simply one unit in the class children; he is a separate estate of the realm. The father and grandfather are almost as different as the cat and the dog. If you subtract any one member, you have not simply reduced the family in number; you have inflicted an injury on its structure. Its unity is a unity of unlikes, almost of incommensurables.
A dim perception of the richness inherent in this kind of unity is one reason why we enjoy a book like The Wind in the Willows; a trio such as Rat, Mole, and Badger symbolises the extreme differentiation of persons in harmonious union, which we know intuitively to be our true refuge both from solitude and from the collective.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

April 25

A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant (9:13-17).

A flock of ducks flew south in perfect formation. They followed the powerful instincts to fly onward, racing from the shifting weather, faithfully flying after the leader who showed them the way. Occasionally, the lead duck would spot a clearing with other ducks, and resisting the instinct to continue. he would lead his flock down for rest. In the safety of the clearing, they could find food and energy could be restored.

At one point, a clearing appeared, and ducks bobbed freely in the marsh. The lead duck circled, leading the flock closer to the ground. Suddenly, the birds sensed that something wasn't right, but before they could climb higher into the sky, shots rang out and many plunged into the cold water below.

When we allow ourselves to be distracted from our pursuit of God, the results can be disastrous. Sin, which leads us from our pursuit of the Lord, can pull us into situations that we don't want to be in, but before we can change them we are trapped.

prayer: Keep my sight on you, O Lord. Clear my vision so that your light is the only thing shining in my eyes. Protect me from the diversions and decoys which can lead me into ruin. Amen.
26 April

Part of the Mystical Body

The Church will outlive the universe; in it the individual person will outlive the universe. Everything that is joined to the immortal head will share His immortality. We hear little of this from the Christian pulpit today. .... If we do not believe it, let us be honest and relegate the Christian faith to museums. If we do, let us give up the pretence that it makes no difference. For this is the real answer to every excessive claim made by the collective. It is mortal; we shall live forever. There will come a time when every culture, every institution, every nation, the human race, all biological life is extinct and every one of us is still alive. Immortality is promised to us, not to these generalities. It was not for societies or states that Christ died, but for men. In that sense Christianity must seem to secular collectivists to involve an almost frantic assertion of individuality. But then it is not the individual as such who will share Christ's victory over death. We shall share the victory by being in the Victor. A rejection, or in Scripture's strong language, a crucifixion of the natural self is the passport to everlasting life. Nothing that has not died will be resurrected. .... There lies the maddening ambiguity of our faith as it must appear to outsiders. It sets its face relentlessly against our natural individualism; on the other hand, it gives back to those who abandon individualism an eternal possession of their own personal being, even of their bodies. As mere biological entities, each with its separate will to live and to expand, we are apparently of no account; we are cross-fodder. But as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

1917 Lewis (age eighteen) arrives at Oxford University to begin his studies.

April 26

Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death (10:2).

A man climbed to the top of the business world by shrewd investments and fast talking. One of his favorite ploys was to build low budget housing and then to rent it at rock bottom prices. Renters would then improve the property, the man would raise their rent forcing them to move, then he would rerent at a higher rate. Though it brought in lots of money, it also brought him a reputation that lasted throughout his life. Everyone knew that he would stop at nothing to make more money, and it little mattered that he hurt many people to make it. When he died, he was one of the wealthiest men in the country, but he was also the loneliest.

Nothing could be worse than facing death alone; without the love of God in your life. All the things money can buy pale in comparison to the worth of having God with us. Taking advantage of other people in order to gain things for ourselves is wrong. It is an abomination in the sight of the Lord, and it builds walls which cannot be broken down. However, if we learn to live our lives for others, we will find the true treasure that God has in store for us. Righteousness delivers us from the death that destroys the very root of our soul.

prayer: Father, thank you for never leaving me alone. I have everything as long as I have you. Stay close by me, and teach me how to give your blessed love to others. Amen.
27 April

To Become Really Doggy

True personality lies ahead—how far ahead, for most of us, I dare not say. And the key to it does not lie in ourselves. It will not be attained by development from within outwards. It will come to us when we occupy those places in the structure of the eternal cosmos for which we were designed or invented. As a colour first reveals its true quality when placed by an excellent artist in its pre-elected spot between certain others, as a spice reveals its true flavour when inserted just where and when a good cook wishes among the other ingredients, as the dog becomes really doggy only when he has taken his place in the household of man, so we shall then first be true persons when we have suffered ourselves to be fitted into our places. We are marble waiting to be shaped, metal waiting to be run into a mould. No doubt there are already, even in the unregenerate self, faint hints of what mould each is designed for, or what sort of pillar he will be. But it is, I think, a gross exaggeration to picture the saving of a soul as being, normally, at all like the development from seed to flower. The very words repentance, regeneration, the New Man, suggest something very different. Some tendencies in each natural man may have to be simply rejected.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

1939 The Personal Heresy is published by Oxford University Press.

April 27

The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked (10:3).

"I'm used to getting what I set my sights on," said an executive to one of his business partners. "I don't care what it takes, any amount of money, but I want my daughter to get into the best school." After a few phone calls, promises of favors, and expensive gifts and bonuses, the girl was in a fine college, and the business executive got back to his affairs.

A lot of people get accustomed to having their own way. They learn to manipulate other people, and to pay for favors. Money becomes a tool by which they control people and situations. The fatal danger to this kind of thinking is that it will work in every situation.

The problems is that Jesus Christ is no respecter of persons. Money has no influence over God. The wealth of man has no value in the presence of God. True wealth is the love and fear of God. This wealth is available to all people, and no one can take it away. It can't be bought, it can only be freely received, as a gift. But if it is received, it cannot share space with material wealth. We must choose one or the other. The riches of man will be cast away by God, but the wealth of heaven will save all believers from famishing.

prayer: Nourish my soul with your greatness, O Lord. Fill me with contempt for the treasure which fades away and crumbles to dust. Set my heart on the true treasure, which never fades, and shines more brightly than the sun. Amen.
28 April

The Right Job

We have in our day started by getting the whole picture upside down. Staying with the doctrine that every individuality is "of infinite value," we then picture God as a kind of employment committee whose business it is to find suitable careers for souls, square holes for square pegs. In fact, however, the value of the individual does not lie in him. He is capable of receiving value. He receives it by union with Christ. There is no question of finding for him a place in the living temple which will do justice to his inherent value and give scope to his natural idiosyncrasy. The place was there first. The man was created for it. He will not be himself till he is there. We shall be true and everlasting and really divine persons only in Heaven, just as we are, even now, coloured bodies only in the light.
To say this is to repeat what everyone here admits already—that we are saved by grace, that in our flesh dwells no good thing, that we are, through and through, creatures not creators, derived beings, living not of ourselves but from Christ.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

April 28

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame (10:4-5).

Two nurses were in the running for a staff position in a large metropolitan hospital. One was a hard working young woman from the Midwest who had striven her whole life to be the best nurse she could possibly be. She studied long and hard and was at the top in her class. She continued to study and learn new techniques and practices. The other was a young man whose father was the hospital administrator. He did his job, but no more. He did just what had to be done and that was all. He figured he was the favorite as far as the new position went, so he sat back and awaited the decision. He was shocked when he learned that the young woman had been selected.

There is nothing to be gained by resting on our laurels. Hard work and integrity are important values to possess. If we can learn to be disciplined in our daily work, then we can improve our spiritual discipline as well. It is pleasing to God when we put forth our best efforts. When we refuse to do our best, then we are failing to utilize the talents and gifts that God has given to us all.

prayer: I want to be a faithful and devout servant, O Lord, doing all that is required of me, using my talents in the best possible way. Help me to do what is right, keep me diligent, and turn me away from the temptation to avoid my responsibilities. Amen.
29 April

Two Final Points

If I seem to have complicated a simpler matter, you will, I hope, forgive me. I have been anxious to bring out two points. I have wanted to try to expel that quite un-Christian worship of the human individual simply as such which is so rampant in modern thought side by side with our collectivism, for one error begets the opposite error and, far from neutralising, they aggravate each other. I mean the pestilent notion (one sees it in literary criticism) that each of us starts with a treasure called "personality" locked up inside him, and that to expand and express this, to guard it from interference, to be "original," is the main end of life. This is Pelagian, or worse, and it defeats even itself. No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work's sake, and what men call originality will come unsought. Even on that level, the submission of the individual to the function is already beginning to bring true personality to birth. And secondly, I have wanted to show that Christianity is not, in the long run, concerned either with individuals or communities. Neither the individual nor the community as popular thought understands them can inherit eternal life, neither the natural self, nor the collective mass, but a new creature.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

April 29

The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot (10:7).

A matron of the church donated all of her free time to helping out. She worked in the office, visited the sick, she made phone calls, delivered flowers, formed prayer groups, served the women's clubs, and welcomed new people to the neighborhood. Whenever anyone was sick or in need, she was first to offer help. If anyone was grieving, she was there with a kind word. Everyone felt a special fondness for this wonderful woman. When she died, the sanctuary of the church was packed. Memorials were made in her honor, and tales of her kindness were told for years to come. In time, her reputation became legendary. No one joined the church who didn't hear the stories of this great woman.

The woman of the story never did anything for glory or recognition, yet by virtue of her commitment and love, her name became synonymous with charity. Everyone loved and respected her, and after she was gone, they did everything in their power to help her kindness live on. What more could we ever want than to be loved so much that our lives could still make a difference even after we are dead? The memory of the just is truly blessed, and it is truly a gift from God if we are to be so lucky.

prayer: Not that I would seek the acceptance of men and women, Father, but please allow that I might be loved in this life, and after it is done. Bless my life, and make it a testament to your Glory. Amen.
30 April

Troughs and Peaks

Screwtape explains the law of undulation:
Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy's determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him). As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
—from The Screwtape Letters

April 30

The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall (10:8).

The story is an old one, and one that is happening all the time. A couple prepared to leave a party where they had over-indulged. The woman was drunk, and her husband only slightly less so. As they began to put on their coats, a friend offered to drive them home. Insulted, the husband refused to even consider it. The husband and wife stumbled to their car, amidst the protests of their friends. Despite the warnings and admonitions, the couple sped off in their car. As it rounded a tight curve, it swung out in to the oncoming lane and struck another car. Though the husband and wife were only slightly hurt, the other driver and his son were killed.

Foolish people refuse to recognise wisdom, even when it is right in front of them. It doesn't matter who offers the suggestions. Both friends and foes are ignored. When our egos get in the way of clear thinking, we are on a pathway that leads away from God. God glories in the person who will listen to good advice, and do what is right. God doesn't give us instruction in order to ruin our good time. His word is offered only to give everyone the chance to live life to the fullest. It is the wise in heart who receives instruction gladly. The fool stumbles down the road to destruction.

prayer: Unplug my ears, O Lord, and let me hear the wisdom of those who care for me. Destroy my foolish pride, and lead me to paths of good sense and smart choices. Keep me from hurting myself and others. Amen.
1 May

Servants Who Become Sons

Screwtape reveals the Enemy's intentions:
Now it may surprise you to learn that in His [the Enemy's] efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.
—from The Screwtape Letters

May 1924 Lewis accepts a one-year temporary post at University College as a philosophy tutor.

May 1

He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known (10:9).

The stone face of the mountain seemed to stretch upward forever. It had a magnetic effect on the boys who had come to the camp. All of them were anxious to have the chance to climb to the top. The counselors warned them not to try it by themselves, but each year some foolish soul tried it anyway. This year was no different. While part of the group went to the ballfield for softball, two of the youths snuck off to attempt the climb. Before long they gave up, unable to master the tricky cliff.

The next afternoon, the counselors took the boys on the climb, and everyone made it. The older boys who had made the climb hundreds of times before, guided the younger boys, telling them where to hold and where to step.

When we who walk this earthly road get into trouble, we often do not have the good sense to listen to those who have walked our road before us. There is nothing wrong with relying on the help of others to make it through life. God is the author of all life, and it makes sense that we should turn to Him in times of trial or difficulty. When we don't, we cannot be surprised that we don't make it through. Our help is always in the Lord.

prayer: I try my best to get through life, O Lord, but often I find myself at a halt. I don't know where to turn, where to step, what to hold onto. In those times, Father, help me to remember that you are there to guide me. Amen.
2 May

...And Still Obeys

Screwtape elaborates on the Enemy's intentions:
Merely to override a human will (as His presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. .... He cannot 'tempt' to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1955 The Magician's Nephew (the sixth book written in The Chronicles of Narnia) is published by The Bodley Head, London.

May 2

He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall (10:10).

Her uncle had been a wonderful storyteller. In fact, she had never known when to believe him and when to know he was kidding. She had believed the stories of the Amazon and the war, and even his days as a pro baseball player. She had thought her uncle cold do anything. It had been devastating when she had found out that he was alcoholic, and that he would have to be put in an institution. In the years that passed she had found out that her uncle had never been to the Amazon, had never played pro ball, and he had even been turned down by the army. She never really got over her disillusionment, and it made her skeptical of everyone she met. She lost faith in heroes.

Each one of us has had a tall tale to tell at some point in our lives. With tongue in cheek, we have put someone on. There is nothing wrong with pulling someone's leg, so long as it isn't a way of life, and that we don't do damage by our untruth. We need to be able to trust others. We need honesty. And other people need to be able to trust us. Honesty is a valuable virtue. We have the power to change lives when we speak the truth. if we tell people fables, we lose credibility and weaken our power to help them.

prayer: Help me that I never undermine the faith that others have in me. Let me be honest and open, so that I might have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Amen.
3 May

At Just That Point in History

We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world. And if we cannot picture even the atoms of which our own world is built, of course we are not going to be able to picture this. Indeed, if we found that we could fully understand it, that very fact would show it was not what it professes to be—the inconceivable, the uncreated, the thing from beyond nature, striking down into nature like lightning. You may ask what good it will be to us if we do not understand it. But that is easily answered. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.
We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.
—from Mere Christianity

May 1941 The Guardian begins to publish The Screwtape Letters in weekly installments.

May 3

In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: for a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding (10:13).

The old farmer pulled at the leather rein which dangled from the mule's mouth, but the mule dug her hooves into the soft earth and resisted his efforts. The farmer spoke coaxing words to the mule, but she refused to budge. In spite of all the farmer's efforts, the old mule held her ground. In frustration the old man pulled a branch from a hickory tree, stripped off the bark, and fashioned a switch from it. Moving around the mule to her hind quarters, the farmer swung back and laid a stinging stripe along the mule's backside. Without hesitation the mule was up and moving, motivated by the tender memory of the moment before.

Often God tries to gently lead us along the paths of righteousness and goodness, but we resist. Many times the only way our attention can be gotten is through a stinging blow. It is never offered out of anger, but always out of love. No parent who loves his or her child ever strikes them to hurt them. If they strike them at all, it is to help them learn. God never does anything to hurt us. Every action of God's is an action of love.

prayer: Forgive me that I am often resistant and stubborn. Break my spirit of defiance, no matter what it takes so that I might openly receive every instruction that you give. Amen.
4 May

The Great Weapon

On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptised into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call 'ambivalent'. It is Satan's great weapon and also God's great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.
—from Miracles

May 4

He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth (10:17).

The judge watched carefully to see where his golfing partners were. Confident that he wasn't seen, he gave his ball a hefty kick. The ball traveled forward about twenty-five feet, onto a soft patch of close-cropped grass, in direct line with the green. He saw nothing wrong with it. He had done it as long as he golfed, and he told himself that his partners did it, too. On this occasion a booming voice cried out, "Hey, what are you trying to pull? Your ball was in the trees!" A raucous verbal battle ensued, with both sides accusing the other side of cheating. Regardless of guilt, the judge always defended himself completely.

We really do kid ourselves when we think cheating is a way to get ahead. There is nothing to be gained by cheating. Our victories are empty ones, and we open ourselves to criticism and doubt. We lose our credibility and turn people against us. It is in honesty and truth that we find fulfillment. God dwells in truth, and He loves honesty. This is the way of life, but the way of death is through sin.

prayer: I am sorry for the ways that I try to get ahead by dishonesty. I am not honest with myself, and then I am not honest with you. Forgive my deceptions, and lead me in the light of your truth, O God, now and forever. Amen.
5 May

The Very Pattern of Reality

Humanity must embrace death freely, submit to it with total humility, drink it to the dregs, and so convert it into that mystical death which is the secret of life. But only a Man who did not need to have been a Man at all unless He had chosen, only one who served in our sad regiment as a volunteer, yet also only one who was perfectly a Man, could perform this perfect dying; and thus (which way you put it is unimportant) either defeat death or redeem it. He tasted death on behalf of all others. He is the representative 'Die-er' of the universe: and for that very reason the Resurrection and the Life. Or conversely, because He truly lives, He truly dies, for that is the very pattern of reality. Because the higher can descend into the lower He who from all eternity has been incessantly plunging Himself in the blessed death of self-surrender to the Father can also most fully descend into the horrible and (for us) involuntary death of the body. Because Vicariousness is the very idiom of the reality He has created, His death can become ours. The whole Miracle, far from denying what we already know of reality, writes the comment which makes the crabbed text plain: or rather, proves itself to be the text on which Nature was only the commentary. In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.
—from Miracles

May 5

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (10:19).

The board meeting had dragged on and on. Every person seemed to have an opinion that they wanted to share. The chairperson had aired her views a number of times. She droned on and on about the point she was trying to make. The rest of the staff were no different. A lot of words were spoken, but very little was being said. Then the program coordinator raised his hand and asked to be recognized. He had not said a word throughout the whole long discussion, but now he broke silence. He spoke slowly and deliberately, saying a few simple sentences, but he brought a hush over the entire room. He spoke the truth, and everyone saw the virtue of his argument immediately. That was the way he had always been.

It is a true gift to be able to listen and speak carefully. Too often we speak just to hear our own voices. People rarely get in trouble for saying too little, it is when they say too much that they feel regret. Jesus often sat and listened to the people. He let all sides speak their piece, then He would reply. His answers were direct, short and to the point. People trusted Him because He said nothing more than what was needed. Would that we could learn to do likewise.

prayer: Please make me slow to speak, quick to listen and grant me the wisdom to speak as Christ would. Fill my mouth with your Holy Spirit. Amen.
6 May

New Life

In the long run God is no one but Himself and what He does is like nothing else. You could hardly expect it to be.
What, then, is the difference which he has made to the whole human mass? It is just this; that the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless 'spiritual' life, has been done for us. Humanity is already 'saved' in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation. But the really tough work—the bit we could not have done for ourselves—has been done for us. We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one Man in whom it was fully present, and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, He will do it in us and for us. Remember what I said about 'good infection'. One of our own race has this new life: if we get close to Him we shall catch it from Him.
Of course, you can express this in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true.
—from Mere Christianity

May 6

The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom (10:21).

The young woman sat enthralled by the words of the young preacher. She had attended church with her parents when she was young, but she found it boring and stupid. She had managed to avoid church for years, but she began to feel a longing deep inside, and its nagging had led her to this place. The boredom she remembered from her youth was gone. The truth of the preacher's words touched her at the very root of her soul. Tears rolled down her face as she realized all that she had missed over the years. Her heart beat with joy that she at long last felt as though she had come home.

When words of truth are spoken from the heart, they reach out to people to give them a rich blessing. It is important that we ask the Spirit of God for guidance as we speak. When we allow God's words to spring from our mouths we become agents for His glory here on earth. We have in our power the ability to feed those who find themselves spiritually hungry. May we use that power wisely and well.

prayer: Lord, I so want to serve you in all ways. Take my words and make them yours. Pour out your grace through my lips, and make my speech a blessing to those who hear. Amen.
7 May

Vicarious Needs

But, you will ask, does this much mend matters? Is not this still injustice, though now the other way round? Where, at the first glance, we accused God of undue favour to His 'chosen', we are now tempted to accuse Him of undue disfavour. (The attempt to keep up both charges at the same time had better be dropped.) And certainly we have here come to a principle very deep-rooted in Christianity: what may be called the principle of Vicariousness. The Sinless Man suffers for the sinful, and, in their degree, all good men for all bad men. And this Vicariousness—no less than Death and Rebirth or Selectiveness—is also a characteristic of Nature. Self-sufficiency, living on one's own resources, is a thing impossible in her realm. Everything is indebted to everything else, sacrificed to everything else, dependent on everything else. And here too we must recognise that the principle is in itself neither good nor bad. The cat lives on the mouse in a way I think bad: the bees and the flowers live on one another in a more pleasing manner The parasite lives on its 'host': but so also the unborn child on its mother. In social life without Vicariousness there would be no exploitation or oppression; but also no kindness or gratitude. It is a fountain both of love and hatred, both of misery and happiness. When we have understood this we shall no longer think that the depraved examples of Vicariousness in Nature forbid us to suppose that the principle itself is of divine origin.
—from Miracles

1945 World War II ends in Europe.

1964 The Discarded Image is published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

May 7

The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it (10:22).

"As I grew up, I made a lot of mistakes," his grandmother had told him before he went off to college. "I made foolish choices, and I hurt myself and others. There was one choice though, which I have never regretted, and it's never paid me a moment of sorrow. That choice was to let the Lord Jesus into my heart. Don't you dare leave for school till you let Him into yours!"

Her words stayed with him, and it helped him a lot though the four years of school. He did make bad choices, and he did feel hurt sometimes, but he never felt alone, and he never regretted that Christ was in complete control of his life.

The love of God is something that no one should be without. It is the only thing we can ever receive that has no strings attached. It is given to us to give our life more meaning, and brighten all of our days. There is nothing in our relationship to the Lord that can possibly cause regret or remorse. A good relationship with God is the path to true wealth, and it is a richness that nothing can destroy.

prayer: O Lord, you have made my life so wonderful. I am rich in a way that I never knew possible. I have escaped the worst possible poverty, and I praise you for giving me your love so freely. Amen.
8 May

It's Not Fair

I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, 'because it must have been so easy for Him'. Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays. In one sense, of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them? The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because 'it's easy for grown-ups' and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no 'unfair' advantage), it would not get on very quickly. If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) 'No, it's not fair! You have an advantage! You're keeping one foot on the bank'? That advantage—call it 'unfair' if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?
—from Mere Christianity

May 8

As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasing foundation (10:25).

The sky turned an ugly black, and the lightning creased the sky. Powerful rolling thunder echoed for miles, and the bottom of the clouds broke downward into a massive funnel. The tail of the cloud whipped downward until it met the ground. As it touched, debris flew high into the air. The cloud cut through the farmland, clearing the land wherever it wandered. One farm completely disappeared from the face of the earth. Fields were stripped of their growth, and trees snapped sideways like twigs. The fury of the storm mounted, then began to subside. The powerful tail of the tornado, whipped once, twice, then shredded, throwing wisps of haze into the air. The tail rose and separated, and then was no more. Nature had claimed victory, and reminded everyone where the real power lay.

The future of the evildoer is similar to that which lies in the path of the tornado. In its time, it will be swept completely away, and after the coming of the Lord, it will be as if it never existed. But, just like a firm foundation, the true believers will remain standing after the storm. When our foundation is the Lord of all creation, there is nothing that can destroy us.

prayer: Be my foundation, Lord. Let the winds sweep past me, but let them never carry me away. My hope and trust is ever in your love. Amen.
9 May

Full Surrender

If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead? None at all that I can see, if you are thinking of punishment in the police-court sense. On the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not. Or if you take 'paying the penalty', not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of 'standing the racket' or 'footing the bill', then, of course, it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend.
Now what was the sort of 'hole' man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of our 'hole'. This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it.
—from Mere Christianity

May 9

The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inherit the earth (10:30).

The old apple tree had stood in the corner of the orchard for years. Its trunk was yards wide, and its branches stretched high into the sky. It had weathered many storms, even surviving being struck by lightning twice. It had long since retired from bearing fruit, but it cast shade over the yard and roof of the old farmhouse. Its roots dug deep into the soil, and nothing could move it from its place. The winds of time had long given up hopes of blowing it down, and the leaves thundered in defiance whenever a breeze kicked up.

As we dwell in Christ over the years, we lay roots which form a foundation which makes it impossible for us to be moved. Nothing can sway us if we plant ourselves completely in His love. If our roots are not in the Lord, we are shaken by the slightest thing, and we have no anchor to hold us in place. Christ invites us to take hold in the fertile soil of God's love. When we take root there, we are there eternally, and nothing can affect us. We are nurtured and strengthened by the grace of God, and we can depend on growing strong and secure in His care.

prayer: I place the seed of my faith in your soil, O Lord. Nurture and feed it so that it might take root and grow. Help my faith to grow strong and tall in the light of your love. Amen.
10 May

With God's Help

Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.
—from Mere Christianity

May 10

False balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight (11:1).

In times long gone, traders would sell grain by the measure of weight to those who would come to them. Many would place stones in the bottom of the bags in order to increase the weight. By the time their ploy was discovered, the sellers were long gone. Many traders made their fortunes by cheating unsuspecting buyers. This practice was widespread, and nothing was done to protect the innocent.

It is a terrible feeling to be cheated and know that we are helpless to fight it. We hate being on the receiving end of other people's selfishness and cruelty. We long for some way to even the score. Thankfully, God has promised that the score will indeed be settled. Those who live by deception will find themselves outside of the grace of God. No one who makes their living by the blood, sweat and tears of others can be numbered among the children of God. they have turned their backs on the ways of the Lord, and so they will pay the penalty. It is comforting to know that God sees all things, and that He will sit in judgment in the last days. Remain steadfast in the Lord, and He will grant you His favor.

prayer: O Lord, soften my heart against those who take advantage of me. Guide my dealings that I never take advantage of another of your children. Let my life be one of fairness and honesty. Amen.
11 May

Nice Is Not Enough

'Niceness'—wholesome, integrated personality—is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up 'nice'; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.
For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to pro- duce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance.
—from Mere Christianity

1926 Lewis meets J. R. R. Tolkien.

May 11

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them (11:2-3).

Summer spelled freedom. The five young boys gloried in the unrestricted time they had. On one occasion, the boys found a pair of canoes by the bank of the river. One of them said, "come on, let's take them out. Nobody'll know." Another boy said, "I can't go out. I'm not that good a swimmer." "Yeah, me neither," said another. "Aw, come on. You guys are chicken."

One of the boys gave in, but the other remained adamant in his protest. "You can call me any name you want to. I'm not a good swimmer, and I'm not taking the risk."

The other four boys pushed off and paddled far out onto the lake. As one of the canoes turned, it was struck by a series of waves, which tossed it over. Both boys were thrown from the boat. Only one resurfaced.

When pride causes us to ignore danger and do what we feel we should not, it can result in terrible trouble. Wise is the person who knows his or her limits and acts accordingly. God wants us to use the talents we have, and the first talent to use is common sense.

prayer: O Lord, watch over me as I try to do what is right. I act foolishly so often. Guard my steps. Grant that I might use the mind that you gave me, in the best way possible. Amen.
12 May

That Some Day We May Ride Bare-Back

To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, 'Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?' Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world- shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King's stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else—since He has retained His own charger—should we accompany Him?
—from Miracles

1947 Miracles is published by Geoffrey Bles/The Centenary Press, London.

May 12

Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness (11:4-6).

A group of children gleefully circled the line of chairs, while music played in the background. When the music abruptly stopped, the children raced to the nearest seat, and plopped themselves down. One lone child stood, then walked off the floor, taking a chair with her. The music resumed, and the game continued. Eventually, one boy stood and one boy sat, and the game came to an end.

It is a little too simple to compare life to a game of musical chairs, but in the end of time there will be winners and there will be losers. Those who pay attention, and play by the rules will find that their reward is in heaven. Those who have been inattentive will find that their future will be loneliness and despair.

We live as though we know what tomorrow will bring, when in fact we have no idea. In musical chairs, the participants anticipate the music's end, and they ready themselves to move quickly. In life, we should be every bit as ready, so that when the music ceases, we won't be caught napping. Regular prayer and reading of the Scriptures can help us to stay ready.

prayer: I'm listening for your word, O Lord. Guide me by your love, that I might always be ready to meet you face to face. Keep me attentive, Lord, and make sure that I don't slumber. Amen.
13 May

Recognizing Christ's New Men

The new step has been taken and is being taken. Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognisable: but others can be recognised. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognisable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of 'religious people' which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think that you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. (We must get over wanting to be needed: in some goodish people, specially women, that is the hardest of all temptations to resist.) They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognised one of them, you will recognise the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of colour, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society. To put it at the very lowest, it must be great fun.
—from Mere Christianity

1959 Lewis is made Doctor of Letters by Manchester University.

May 13

When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked (11:10-11).

It was extremely difficult coming from a small town to try to break into the big leagues. The boy had played basketball since he could walk. He practiced every day, and everyone in town knew of his love for the game. All through his high school years, the entire town turned out to watch him play. When he was selected to play with a major college, the entire town declared a holiday and celebrated his good fortune. He progressed wonderfully, and was selected in the first round to play pro ball. Each resident took personal pride in the success of the young man, and they rejoiced in his success.

When a Christian believes in a manner fitting for a child of God, all of heaven rejoices. Our home is where God dwells, and all of its residents take particular pride in the success of the family members who are still on this earth. God's heavenly city rejoices at the righteousness of His followers. By our words and actions, God's heavenly home is exalted, and His glory shines forth for all to see.

prayer: Father, I hope you are proud of the way I live my life. I want it to be a testimony to your greatness. I pray my life may be a blessing, causing great rejoicing. Bless my attempts to honor you. Amen.
14 May

Imagine Being Who You Really Are

To become new men means losing what we now call 'ourselves'. Out of our selves, into Christ, we must go. His will is to become ours and we are to think His thoughts, to 'have the mind of Christ' as the Bible says. And if Christ is one, and if He is thus to be 'in' us all, shall we not be exactly the same? It certainly sounds like it; but in fact it is not so.
It is difficult here to get a good illustration; because, of course, no other two things are related to each other just as the Creator is related to one of His creatures. But I will try two very imperfect illustrations which may give a hint of the truth. Imagine a lot of people who have always lived in the dark. You come and try to describe to them what light is like. You might tell them that if they come into the light that same light would fall on them all and they would all reflect it and thus become what we call visible. Is it not quite possible that they would imagine that, since they were all receiving the same light, and all reacting to it in the same way (i.e. all reflecting it), they would all look alike? Whereas you and I know that the light will in fact bring out, or show up, how different they are. Or again, suppose a person who knew nothing about salt. You give him a pinch to taste and he experiences a particular strong, sharp taste. You then tell him that in your country people use salt in all their cookery. Might he not reply 'In that case I suppose all your dishes taste exactly the same: because the taste of that stuff you have just given me is so strong that it will kill the taste of everything else.' But you and I know that the real effect of salt is exactly the opposite. So far from killing the taste of the egg and the tripe and the cabbage, it actually brings it out. They do not show their real taste till you have added the salt.
—from Mere Christianity

May 14

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace (11:12).

As a child, I remember a man who lived down the street who frightened me terribly. He was an older man who was paralyzed on his left side. His face was disfigured, and he limped along on a cane. He had a low, gravelly voice which he used to yell "You brats stay away from me! Come too close and I'll split your head." For years I would race past his house, trying not to look at his face. I felt relieved when the old man died, but later in life I found out how lonely and hurt the old man had been. He had lived a hard life, had no friends, and took his frustrations out in the only way he knew how. The man I had once thought was a monster was actually just a poor, lost soul.

I think often of how I misjudged the old man, and feel foolish that I never tried to get to know him. I made judgments without knowing all the facts. It truly is the person who is without wisdom who despises his or her neighbor. Those who have understanding refrain from jumping to conclusions and they hold their peace. There is so much good we can do, if we will only be patient and find out all the facts first.

prayer: I am too quick to judge, Almighty God. Grant me the patience and wisdom I need to live by the rule of gold; that I might treat others as I would like to be treated. Amen.
15 May

My Own Personality

The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of 'little Christs', all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented—as an author invents characters in a novel—all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to 'be myself' without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call 'Myself' becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop. What I call 'My wishes' become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men's thoughts or even suggested to me by devils. Eggs and alcohol and a good night's sleep will be the real origins of what I flatter myself by regarding as my own highly personal and discriminating decision to make love to the girl opposite to me in the railway carriage. Propaganda will be the real origin of what I regard as my own personal political ideas. I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call 'me' can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.
—from Mere Christianity

1945 Charles Williams, Lewis's friend and fellow Inkling, dies at age fifty-eight.

May 15

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter (11:13).

One junior high school buy confided in another his love for a certain girl. The first boy asked the second one to keep his secret. By the end of the school day, the rumor was all around about the boy and girl. The first boy was mortified as others mocked him and teased the girl he liked. In shame, the boy ran home, and in the weeks ahead he avoided both his friend and the girl of his affections. Through a thoughtless and cruel act, one person was able to shame another and build walls that blocked a relationship from ever starting.

Gossip is one of the most sinful and selfish acts we can engage in. It robs others of their honor, and places them in positions of mockery Gossip can never build up, but only destroy. It casts doubts, and puts others down.

God favors the woman or man who keeps silence when a friend confides in them. Trust is one of the most powerful forces on earth. Every good relationship has trust as its cornerstone, even our relationship to God. When we learn to trust God, we have the weight of the world lifted from our shoulders. We can live in faith, knowing that God works all things for good, and that He will be with us always.

prayer: When a friend speaks to me in confidence, let me be trustworthy and devoted. Seal my lips from ever saying anything which brings another person shame or grief. May the words of my mouth be a blessing. Amen.
16 May

All Good Masters Are Servants

The question we want to ask about Man's 'central' position in this drama is really on a level with the disciples' question, 'Which of them was the greatest?' It is the sort of question which God does not answer. If from Man's point of view the re-creation of non-human and even inanimate Nature appears a mere by-product of his own redemption, then equally from some remote, non-human point of view Man's redemption may seem merely the preliminary to this more widely diffused springtime, and the very permission of Man's fall may be supposed to have had that larger end in view. Both attitudes will be right if they will consent to drop the words mere and merely. Where a God who is totally purposive and totally foreseeing acts upon a Nature which is totally interlocked, there can be no accidents or loose ends, nothing whatever of which we can safely use the word merely. Noting is 'merely a by-product' of anything else. All results are intended from the first. What is subservient from one point of view is the main purpose from another. No thing or event is first or highest in a sense which forbids it to be also last and lowest. The partner who bows to Man in one movement of the dance receives Man's reverences in another. To be high or central means to abdicate continually: to be low means to be raised: all good masters are servants: God washes the feet of men.
—from Miracles

May 16

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety (11:14).

All the young widow left behind was a note, saying, "I could have made it if I just had someone to talk to. I can't stand being all alone. I know my problems aren't so much greater than those of other people, but I need someone to help me solve them. I can't do it by myself anymore."

Out of desperation and loneliness, the woman took her life. This is the tragedy of those who don't know Jesus Christ. With Christ in our hearts we are never alone. God rejoices when we pour out our hearts to Him, confiding our deepest needs and desires. We all need someone to talk to. When there is someone to talk to, we feel happy and fulfilled. The load is taken off our hearts, and we are liberated. God is our savior and protector. He listens to even the smallest of our cries. We can rejoice that we have someone who understands us so completely, and cares for us so totally. When no one else is there for us to talk to, God remains by our side, never leaving, never turning.

prayer: My Lord, I need a haven in this stressful world. I need someone who will share my burdens and hear my cries. I need to feel that my cries are being heard. Hear, O Lord, the murmurs from the depths of my heart. Give me peace, that passes understanding. Amen.
17 May

God's Arrangements

In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.
How is this to be done? Now, please remember how we acquired the old, ordinary kind of life. We derived it from others, from our father and mother and all our ancestors, without our consent—and by a very curious process, involving pleasure, pain, and danger. A process you would never have guessed. Most of us spend a good many years in childhood trying to guess it: and some children, when they are first told, do not believe it—and I am not sure that I blame them, for it is very odd. Now the God who arranged that process is the same God who arranges how the new kind of life—the Christ-life—is to be spread. We must be prepared for it being odd too. He did not consult us when He invented sex: He has not consulted us either when He invented this.
There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord's Supper. At least, those are the three ordinary methods. ....
I cannot myself see why these things should be the conductors of the new kind of life. But then, if one did not happen to know, I should never have seen any connection between a particular physical pleasure and the appearance of a new human being in the world. We have to take reality as it comes to us: there is no good jabbering about what it ought to be like or what we should have expected it to be like.
—from Mere Christianity

May 17

He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure (11:15).

Having landed a quality, high-paying job, it was only natural to want to look good. The clothes, the car, the accessories were all part of the image. It hadn't seemed like such a bad idea to go into a little debt in order to get the things now. He had felt that the job was secure. Now the job was gone, and everything he had still had payments left on it. There was no way he could afford the car. His credit cards were all spent to their limits. He sat looking at the bills shaking his head. There was no way he could hope to pay for the things he had purchased.

Credit is necessary in order to live in this day and age. But credit is a tool. It is to be used, but not abused. To purchase beyond our means is to steal. We are not entitled to something for nothing. It is much better to buy that which we can pay for. Debt is a trap. We can be swept in before we know what is happening.

Only God should control our lives. Certainly, we should not sell ourselves into bondage to material possessions. Being debt free makes us able to follow God, and all His commandments. When we fall into debt, we must turn our attentions from God to the almighty dollar. When we are solvent, we are free to focus our attention solely on God.

prayer: Grant me wisdom that I might know my limits. Guard me from entering into debt that I cannot hope to pay. Make me content with what I have, that I might not be tempted by what I do not have. Amen.
18 May

Blessed Matter

And let me make it quite clear when Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being 'in Christ' or of Christ being 'in them', this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—a biological or superbiological fact. There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.
—from Mere Christianity

1862 Florence Augusta ("Flora") Hamilton, mother of C. S. ("Jack") Lewis, is born in Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland.

May 18

A gracious woman retaineth honor: and strong men retain riches (11:16).

Judas Iscariot possessed qualities that Jesus considered worthy, or he never would have been selected as a disciple. Judas followed faithfully for the better part of three years as he shared in the ministry of Christ. At a time when he should have been most strong, he proved weak. He gave in to the temptation of the sparkle of silver, and he betrayed his friend and Lord. He had lived so very close to the true treasure: the love of Jesus Christ, and he threw it all away due to his weakness.

Everyone sins. That is a sad, but true. Often we are weak when we want to be strong. It is vital that we hold on to the love of God in those times when we are most sorely tempted. God offers us His strength when our own strength is not enough. All we need to do is pray for this strength and it will be given to us. When we fall prey to sin, and we allow it to control us, we join with Judas in betraying the truth of Christ. When we call on God to help us in our weakness, then we have found true wisdom and strength. If we will deal honestly with God, He will shower us with treasure which cannot be taken from us, and honor which testifies to the glory of Christ.

prayer: O Lord, I pray that I might make you proud of me. I will try to please you by my actions, and praise you with my words. Be with me, Father. Amen.
19 May

Carriers of Christ

Some of you may feel that this is very unlike your own experience. You may say 'I've never had the sense of being helped by an invisible Christ, but I often have been helped by other human beings.' That is rather like the woman in the first war who said that if there were a bread shortage it would not bother her house because they always ate toast. If there is no bread there will be no toast. If there were no help from Christ, there would be no help from other human beings. He works on us in all sorts of ways: not only through what we think our 'religious life'. He works through Nature, through our own bodies, through books, sometimes through experiences which seem (at the time) anti-Christian. When a young man who has been going to church in a routine way honestly realises that he does not believe in Christianity and stops going—provided he does it for honesty's sake and not just to annoy his parents—the spirit of Christ is probably nearer to him then than it ever was before. But above all, He works on us through each other.
Men are mirrors, or 'carriers' of Christ to other men. Sometimes unconscious carriers. This 'good infection' can be carried by those who have not got it themselves. People who were not Christians themselves helped me to Christianity. But usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. You might say that when two Christians are following Christ together there is not twice as much Christianity as when they are apart, but sixteen times as much.
—from Mere Christianity

May 19

The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward (11:18).

The scribes and Pharisees watched the movements of Jesus very carefully. If at any time, Jesus contradicted His words by His actions, they would have been able to discredit Him, and the Christian movement would have come to a screeching halt. Due to His divine nature, Christ was able to live a life free from sin, and thereby gave us an example of how we should strive to behave. The reward for living the life of Christ is eternal life in God's heavenly home. There is no other way that we can hope to attain heaven than through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. If we earnestly desire to follow Christ with all our heart, mind and soul, then Jesus will be faithful to judge us favorably when we come before Him.

Living the life of Christ seems an impossible task. On our own, it would be, but we have the promise of Christ that He will send a helper into our lives. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and when we find that we have trouble following Christ's example, we can rest in His help. We must be honest with God, and open to His leading through the Holy Spirit. If we will do that, we will indeed sow the seed of righteousness, and God most surely will grant us our eternal reward.

prayer: O Lord, I want to follow in your footsteps, but they loom so large before me. I feel unworthy to attempt to live as you did, or to even hope for the reward you promise all who will be faithful. Bless my attempts, Father. Amen.
20 May

A Body—Muscular, Vital, and Diverse

The society into which the Christian is called at baptism is not a collective but a Body. It is in fact that Body of which the family is an image on the natural level. .... We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body, and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with Him is out of court. After that it seems almost trivial to trace further down the diversity of operations to the unity of the Spirit. But it is very plainly there. There are priests divided from the laity, catechumens divided from those who are in full fellowship. There is authority of husbands over wives and parents over children. There is, in forms too subtle for official embodiment, a continual interchange of complementary ministrations. We are all constantly teaching and learning, forgiving and being forgiven, representing Christ to man when we intercede, and man to Christ when others intercede for us. The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the wordlings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

1925 Lewis is elected Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

1960 Joy undergoes her last surgery.

May 20

They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the Lord: but such as are upright in their way are his delight. Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered (11:20-21).

In a small midwestern town, a concerned group began a crusade against pornographic materials being sold in public places. Their protest met with resistance, so they hired a firm to investigate the matter for them to see who they were really up against. By the time the investigation was over it came to light that not only were area businessmen involved, but also the mayor of the town, the chief of police, two school administrators, and three powerful lawyers. The group gave up, as they felt the deck was favorably stacked for the opposition.

Evil is a difficult thing to fight, and it seems impossible to defeat when it is made manifest in a large group of people. It is strange that evil forces seem to have no trouble combining their strength, while often the forces of good never manage to get together. It is comforting to know that in the end, God's goodness is stronger than any amount of evil on this earth. Those who are evil in the sight of the Lord are an abomination, and they will have no part in His heavenly kingdom. The upright are a delight to the Lord, and it is those people who will dwell with God in heaven eternally.

prayer: Protect me from those who try to do me harm, O Lord. In the face of evil, help me to remember that you are God, and evil has no power over you, or those who choose to follow you. Amen.
21 May

Should the Church Take the Lead?

People say, 'The Church ought to give us a lead.' That is true if they mean it in the right way, but false if they mean it in the wrong way. By the church they ought to mean the whole body of practising Christians. And when they say that the Church should give us a lead, they ought to mean that some Christians—those who happen to have the right talents—should be economists and statesmen, and that all economists and statesmen should be Christians, and that their whole efforts in politics and economics should be directed to putting 'Do as you would be done by' into action. If that happened, and if we others were really ready to take it, then we should find the Christian solution for our own social problems pretty quickly. But, of course, when they ask for a lead from the church most people mean they want the clergy to put out a political programme. That is silly. The clergy are those particular people within the whole church who have been specially trained and set aside to look after what concerns us as creatures who are going to live for ever: and we are asking them to do a quite different job for which they have not been trained. The job is really on us, on the laymen. The application of Christian principles, say, to trade unionism or education, must come from Christian trade unionists and Christian schoolmasters: just as Christian literature comes from Christian novelists and dramatists—not from the bench of bishops getting together and trying to write plays and novels in their spare time.
—from Mere Christianity

1936 Allegory of Love is published by Clarendon Press, Oxford.

May 21

The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath (11:23).

A young boy was asked by his father to go out and mow the yard. The boy said he would do it, but then got interested in a television program. The father came back into the house and reminded the boy of his chore. The boy went out to the garage to get the mower, but got distracted when he found his brother repairing his bicycle. Finally, after watching his brother work for awhile, the young boy wheeled the lawn mower out of the garage. As he filled the mower with gasoline, a group of his friends came by to ask him to go to the movies. Hesitantly, the boy said he would go. He pushed the mower back into the garage, and making sure his father was nowhere in sight, he ran off with his friends. When evening came, the boy thought of a number of excuses to give his father to avoid the punishment he knew he would receive.

When we fail to do the things we are supposed to, we have to pay the price. No one can make a promise to God, then break it, and expect nothing to happen. Thankfully, someone has taken the punishment for our misdeeds. Through Christ's holy sacrifice for our sake, we may approach God, asking forgiveness, and be secure in the knowledge that He will respond.

prayer: Hear me, O Lord, as I confess the wrong things I have done. Forgive me when I fail to live up to your expectations. Help me to do what is right to do. Guide me to repentance, that I might follow always in your light. Amen.
22 May

A Christian Society

The New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good; there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side', no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience—obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls 'busybodies'.
If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, 'advanced', but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned—perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.
—from Mere Christianity

May 22

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty (11:24).

During the great depression, two families shared a house in Pennsylvania. One family occupied the upper floor, and the other family lived on the lower. The family which lived downstairs was always inviting people in to share what they had. Whenever there was an opportunity for them to help out, they would do so. No matter how much they gave, they always seemed to have enough. The family on the upper floor, however, scoffed at the way the downstairs family lived. They stored all extras in a locker in the pantry. They gave nothing away. It was not until they found that rats had gotten into their pantry, that they were sorrowful for what they had done. Interestingly, the rats had not disturbed the downstairs pantry.

Selfishness leads to despair. True joy comes to us, not from what we own, but from what we are able to give to others. We were put on this earth to serve one another, and when we fail to do so, there is a price to pay. When we give what we have, God will bless us with more, and the blessing will be double because of the joy that giving brings.

prayer: Take what I have, Lord, and use it for your glory. I have nothing except what you have given me. Help me to share from my abundance, and to give all that I can to those who are in need. Amen.
23 May

The Longest Way Round

I am going to venture on a guess as to how this section has affected any who have read it. My guess is that there are some Leftist people among them who are very angry that it has not gone further in that direction, and some people of an opposite sort who are angry because they think it has gone much too far. If so, that brings us right up against the real snag in this drawing up of blueprints for a Christian society. Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or—a Judge. I am just the same. There are bits in this section that I wanted to leave out. And that is why nothing whatever is going to come of such talks unless we go a much longer way round. A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat 'Do as you would be done by' till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward—driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.
—from Mere Christianity

May 23

The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it (11:25-26).

A terrible drought befell a certain kingdom. It lasted on and on, and the king began to fear that he and his family might begin to suffer. He began to hoard the grain that was grown and he imposed harsh taxes on the people. Each time he took food from the mouths of his subjects, however, he caused them to grow more angry and resentful. At long last, the people rebelled against the selfish king, and they killed not only him, but his family as well.

God wants us to be giving and loving in the bad times as well as in the good. Kindness should not be conditional on whether or not it is convenient. A giving person is well loved, and reflects the kind of love that Christ came to spread upon this earth. Both Old and New Testaments give us the rule we should follow when we are asked to give: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If we will begin to share what we have, then we will be rewarded by our Father who sees all things that we do.

prayer: Make me a giving person, Almighty God. Keep the example of Christ firmly planted in my mind. Show me ways that I might give to others who are in need, and open my heart to them. Amen.
24 May

For No Other Purpose

This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The state exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.
—from Mere Christianity

May 1918 Lewis is transferred to Ensleigh Palace Hospital, London, to continue recovering from his battle wounds.

May 24

He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him (11:27).

There was a man who took it upon himself to dress up like a clown and go into neighboring hospitals to visit sick children. He was not hired to do so, but he went out of a deep love for children and a desire to bring joy to them during difficult times. He spent his own money on small gifts and balloons, which he gave wherever he went. The children loved to see him come, as did the parents and the hospital staff. He refused to tell anyone who he was. He was a truly happy man, not because of the honor he received, but because of the love he was able to share.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that the good feeling we receive from doing good is the greatest reward. Our egos get in the way, and we long for recognition when we do good things. When we diligently seek to do good, we procure the favor of God, and there is nothing greater we could ever hope to achieve. Jesus Christ came to this earth as a gift freely given from God. It was not deserved, but we are so thankful that it came. It is the same spirit of giving that God looks for in His children. When we have opportunities to give, we should do so with no thought of reward or recognition.

prayer: You have given so very much to me, Lord, now help me give of myself to others. I want to serve you with gladness, and reflect the light of your love to all the people I meet. Destroy my selfish spirit, and replace it with your giving grace. Amen.
25 May

A Gentle Welcome

I hope no reader will suppose that 'mere' Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions. .... It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and panelling. In plain language, the question should never be: 'Do I like that kind of service?' but 'Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?'
When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.
—from Mere Christianity

May 25

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart (11:29).

There was a man who ran his office with a iron hand. He tolerated no levity or lightheartedness. Business was a place for serious minds and committed spirits. Money was the ultimate goal, and every effort had to be put forth in order to obtain it. Any breach of the businesman's rules resulted in quick termination. There were never office parties, no gifts or bonuses given at holidays, and never an offer of financial help to employees in need. After 50 years of business, the man decided to retire, and he found himself quite shocked when there was no farewell celebration in his honor. No one called to check on him, and he retired lonely and friendless.

There is nothing to be gained by mistreating those around you. We receive what we give, and it is important that we learn to show kindness and love early in life. A person who gives freely from the heart is well loved, and his or her days will be filled with joy. it is the foolish person who lives their life selfishly and harshly. For as we live, so do we die, and there can be nothing worse than dying with no one to care. Bless those whom you meet, and blessing will be yours forever.

prayer: Treat me as I have treated others, Lord. Keep me mindful that you are watching over my actions, and that I will receive what I have given out. Help me to show kindness, caring and love to everyone I meet, Father. Amen.
26 May

Creating Hatred in Church

Screwtape offers insights on using church for evil ends:
I think I warned you before that if your patient can't be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don't mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn't the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say 'mass' and those who say 'holy communion' when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things—candles and clothes and what not—are an admirable ground for other activities. We have quite removed from men's minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials—namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the 'low' churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his 'high' brother should be moved to irreverence, and the 'high' one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his 'low' brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.
—from The Screwtape Letters

May 1933 The Pilgrim's Regress is published by J. M. Dent, London.

May 26

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish (12:1).

Law school had seemed like a dream. The young woman had worked many years to get there, and now it was unreal. She never thought there could be so much work to do. She had given it everything she had, and now it was coming down to the last week of her last year. Her efforts paid off. She finished at the very top of her class, and she was lauded with honors. She looked around at many of her classmates. She knew how disappointed some of them had been with their own performances, but she couldn't really feel sorry for them. They all had the same opportunities, and some used them well, others abused them. Each one got what they paid for. She loved to study and learn, and she received the benefits of her labor.

It is true of all of us that we will put forth the most effort to do the things we love most. We will give all we have to some cause or project that we love and believe in. Jesus Christ wants to be that cause in our life. He wants us to pursue Him with everything we've got. If we will do that, we will know God, but if we follow some lesser god, then we will never know Him. It is good to listen to the word of God and to seek Him in scripture. By knowing God, we may have all the blessings that God can bestow, and we will rest in joy, eternally.

prayer: I want to seek you with every ounce of my being. Help me to devote myself wholly to you. Grace me with true knowledge, and lead me by your instructions, O Lord. Amen.
27 May

A Suitable Church

Screwtape expands on developing church participation for evil ends:
Surely you know that if a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that 'suits' him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a 'suitable' church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise—does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!) This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper.
—from The Screwtape Letters

May 27

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones (12:4).

A minister faced his retirement after serving churches for over fifty years. He sat down at his typewriter to collect some thoughts for his farewell message, and his mind swept back over his years in ministry. As he poured through the years, his thoughts kept coming back to his wife, the woman who had supported him and stood beside him through many good and bad times alike. She had been his inspiration and his confidant. She had encouraged and endorsed him. She had stood in the wings, always cheering him on, but rarely receiving the recognition she deserved for her part in his ministry. Without her, there would have been no ministry, for it was from his wife that he received much of his drive and desire. Indeed, God had graced him with a loving wife, knowing that she was what he needed to be a whole person. Without her, he would have been nothing, but with her, he was a king.

Spouses can be a wonderful support to one another. That, in fact, is a large part of their role. Christians are parts of the bridge of Christ, the church. It is our duty to remain faithful to Christ, and to work to bring honor upon Him by our virtue. Our lives can be crowns upon the head of Christ, for all the world to see.

prayer: Lord, I want to be a faithful and loving servant. I pray that my actions might be a source of pride in your sight. Help me to remain true to your Spirit, and a shining light in your world. Amen.
28 May

Hints of Our Future

"We know not what we shall be"; but we may be sure we shall be more, not less, than we were on earth. Our natural experiences (sensory, emotional, imaginative) are only like the drawing, like pencilled lines on flat paper. If they vanish in the risen life, they will vanish only as pencil lines vanish from the real landscape, not as a candle flame that is put out but as a candle flame which becomes invisible because someone has pulled up the blind, thrown open the shutters, and let in the blaze of the risen sun.
—from "Transposition" (The Weight of Glory)

1944 "Transposition" is preached in the chapel of Mansfield College, Oxford, on the Feast of Pentecost.

May 28

The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them. The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand (12:6-7).

When the pencil box disappeared, the little girl saw her chance. Going up to the teacher, she said, "I saw Timmy around the desk. He took the pencil box." The little girl had not liked Tim, and she felt that it would be great fun to get him into trouble. The teacher brought Timmy into the room, and told the little girl to repeat her story. Timmy burst into tears and said, "That's not true. I never took anything!" The teacher sent Timmy home with a note for his parents, and she thanked the little girl for coming to her.

The next day, when the little girl arrived at school, the teacher was waiting with Timmy and another boy. "This boy came to me this morning and admitted taking the box. Why did you say Timmy did it?" Suddenly, the lie didn't seem like so much fun. The little girl never thought she might get caught.

There is only one outcome for people who live by the lie. They will have to answer for their actions before God. It is much better to always speak truth, for the mouth of the upright will indeed deliver them.

prayer: May my speech always be truthful and my words always uplift. Forbid that I should ever hurt anyone by careless speech or an unkind word. Grant that I might speak with your grace and your love at all times. Amen.
29 May

A Curious Consolation

It is at her centre, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the centre of each there is a something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.
—from Mere Christianity

1874 G. K. Chesterton (d. 1936), one of Lewis's primary spiritual influences, is born.

May 29

He that is despised and hath a servant, is better than he that honoreth himself, and lacketh bread (12:9).

It wasn't so terrible growing old knowing that someone would be with you. All her life she had many friends, some older, some the same age, a few younger. Now she sat surrounded by many people, celebrating ninety years of a wonderful life. She knew of so many people her age who had no one. It upset her sometimes to think of people being that unhappy. Still, many of these people had done nothing in their lives to reach out to others, so it wasn't too surprising that they had no one around them now. Her husband had always told her, "You reap what you sow." She knew he was right. She was just glad that she had sown good seed throughout her lifetime.

No amount of self-love will comfort us in the end. It is through our relationships that we find fulfillment. It is important that Christians keep themselves in right relationship with God. If we pursue God, He will be with us all the days of our lives, and we will never know the pain of loneliness. We may have all of our creature comforts taken care of, but it is the emotional comforts which become so much more important as time goes by.

prayer: O Lord, you are my comfort and my support. I am so very glad to call you not only my Savior and Lord, but also my friend. Be with me through the rest of my days, in good times and in bad, so that I am never alone. Amen.
30 May

Work Offered to God

I regret at once an idea which lingers in the mind of some modern people that cultural activities are in their own right spiritual and meritorious—as though scholars and poets were intrinsically more pleasing to God than scavengers and bootblacks. I think it was Matthew Arnold who first used the English word spiritual in the sense of the German geistlich, and so inaugurated this most dangerous and most anti-Christian error. Let us clear it forever from our minds. The work of a Beethoven and the work of a charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly "as to the Lord." This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

May 30

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding (12:11).

A member of my youth group complained because his father wouldn't let him have the car whenever he wanted it. It's not fair." Actually, the young man had been told that if he was to drive the car, he had to help maintain it and keep it filled with gas. His father had never said that he couldn't use it. So often we take for granted the things which are not ours. We think we deserve things when we have no real claim to them at all. When we are forced to work for something, we appreciate it so much more. When things are just handed to us, and we make no personal sacrifice, then we don't learn the true value of things.

We sometimes complain to God that we have to work too hard, or that we wish we had all the things we want, but if God freely granted all our wishes, we would lose sight of how blessed we really are. When we have to work for something, then we know its value, and we stop taking things for granted. It is good for us to learn to appreciate what we do have, and to quit dwelling on all the things we wish we could have instead.

prayer: O Lord, you have given me so very much. Thank you that it has not come too easily, but that I have had to put forth an effort to obtain it. I have been blessed in so many wonderful ways, and so I offer my thanks and my praise. Amen.
31 May

Avoid Clarity

Upon learning that Wormwood's Patient has become a Christian, Screwtape illustrates techniques for confusion:
One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hiterhto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. .... Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. At his present stage, you see, he has an idea of 'Christians' in his mind which he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial. His mind is full of togas and sandals and armour and bare legs and the mere fact that the other people in church wear modern clothes is a real—though of course an unconscious—difficulty to him. Never let it come to the surface; never let him ask what he expected them to look like. Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.
—from The Screwtape Letters

May 31

The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble. A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise (12:13-15).

The man's hands moved over the wood with great love and care. The sharp tools never gouged or split, but they cut into the wood with precision. Each joint was perfect, and the result was furniture of the highest quality. It made mass produced furniture look pathetic in comparison. Many people were annoyed at the high price tag that much of the furniture carried, but people who recognized the quality of the skilled craftsmanship did not hesitate to pay the price. Each piece of furniture carried with it love and devotion to quality.

In our lives, when we produce that which is good, we will receive good compensation. When we produce inferior results, we cannot expect our reward to be great. We should strive to be perfectionists in our relationship with God. The same love and attention we pay Him will be what we can hope to receive. God is anxious to give His children good things, and we can be pleased with ourselves when we know He is giving us that which we are deserving of because we have tried to be the best we can be.

prayer: Almighty God, giver of good things, author of all life, help me to be a craftsman at the trade of life. Let me live a life of quality, giving attention to the finer points of life, and always giving glory and honor to you. Amen.
1 June

Untold Millions

Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ's body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man's fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.
—from Mere Christianity

June 1

A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame (12:16).

The man impatiently looked at his watch. He was sure his friend had told him to be on this corner at 5:30 sharp. It was now ten until six, and he still had not shown up. The man grabbed his coat and briefcase and headed for home. All the way home he grew more and more angry. It was his birthday, and it had been tradition for him to meet his friend for an after work drink. They had done so for better than twenty years. He'd never been stood up before.

When he turned the corner and headed toward his driveway, he noticed the car of his friend parked in the driveway. Getting from the car, he slammed the door, and stormed into the house. Seeing his friend, he flew into a rage. "Where were you? Some friend. You promised me that you'd pick me up. You lied to me!" The man's face was red with rage and hurt. So angered was he that he didn't notice the cake or the circle of friends who had waited to surprise him. An embarrassed hush settled over the entire group.

Anger can be a terrible thing. Everyone has the right to get angry, but it should never control us. We should be prudent and learn to hold our tongues, so that we might not embarrass ourselves and others by our uncontrolled wrath.

prayer: Help me to think before I react, Father, that I might not cause grief or pain. Let me learn patience and control so that my actions may be a glory to you rather than a shame. Guide my actions and my words, Father. Amen.
2 June

The Apostolic Witness

In the earliest days of Christianity an 'apostle' was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. Only a few days after the Crucifixion when two candidates were nominated for the vacancy created by the treachery of Judas, their qualification was that they had known Jesus personally both before and after His death and could offer first-hand evidence of the Resurrection in addressing the outer world (Acts 1:22). A few days later St Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, makes the same claim—'God raised Jesus, of which we all (we Christians) are witnesses' (Acts 2:32). In the first Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul bases his claim to apostleship on the same ground—'Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus?' (1:9).
As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. .... The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the 'gospel' or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the 'gospels', the narratives of Our Lord's life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. .... The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this 'gospel' no gospels would ever have been written.
—from Miracles

June 2

He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit (12:17).

I knew that I could always turn to Ed for an accurate appraisal of how I'd done. Each Sunday, after I stepped out of the pulpit I looked forward to my talk with Ed. Other people would offer kind comments about the sermon, but Ed would tell me the good and the bad, and he would do it lovingly and honestly. He wouldn't pull any punches, but every comment he would make would be salted with grace. The Eds of the world were a pastor's best friend. I could learn more from Ed in five minutes than I could in a year of preaching class. Ed was the best thing that ever happened to my sermons.

It is not always easy to hear the truth, but it is always good. The truth can lead us on to be better than we already are. When we walk in the truth, we are walking toward God. God is truth, and the more time we spend in honesty, the more time we spend with God. Not only should we seek out truth in others, but we should let others know that they will receive truth when they come to us. There is very little we could want more than for other people to be able to trust us. Trust is the cornerstone upon which solid and lasting friendships are built. We can do a person no greater service than to deal with them in truth and love.

prayer: As David prayed, so I pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always found acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.
3 June

What the Apostles Meant

When modern writers talk of the Resurrection they usually mean one particular moment—the discovery of the Empty Tomb and the appearance of Jesus a few yards away from it. The story of that moment is what Christian apologists now chiefly try to support and sceptics chiefly try to impugn. but this almost exclusive concentration on the first five minutes or so of the Resurrection would have astonished the earliest Christian teachers. In claiming to have seen the resurrection they were not necessarily claiming to have seen that. Some of them had, some of them had not. It had no more importance than any of the other appearances of the risen Jesus—apart from the poetic and dramatic importance which the beginnings of things must always have. What they were claiming was that they had all, at one time or another, met Jesus during the six or seven weeks that followed His death. Sometimes they seem to have been alone when they did so, but on one occasion twelve of them saw Him together, and on another occasion about five hundred of them. St Paul says that the majority of the five hundred were still alive when he wrote the First Letter to the Corinthians, i.e. in about 55 AD.
The 'Resurrection' to which they bore witness was, in fact, not the action of rising from the dead but the state of having risen; a state, as they held, attested by intermittent meetings during a limited period (except for the special, and in some ways different, meeting vouchsafed to St Paul). This termination of the period is important, for .... there is no possibility of isolating the doctrine of the Resurrection from that of the Ascension.
—from Miracles

June 3

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment (12:18-19).

Words spoken in the heat of anger are spoken so quickly, but they're impact goes so deep. Once said, words cannot be taken back. it seems to take many more words to heal than it does to hurt. It takes one unkind word to cut someone to the quick, but it may take a dozen apologies to make everything well again.

The words of our mouths are the reflections of our hearts. Like a fountain, we spring forth either good or foul water, depending on the source. if we keep Jesus Christ enthroned in our hearts, then we can rest assured that all of our words will be gracious, but if we continually take control of our lives back from Christ's loving hands, then we must take responsibility for words that may issue forth in anger or unkindness. Christ is willing to transform our hearts, to clean up the source of our life's fountain. When we give our lives to Christ, we allow Him to make us new. It is good to give our lives to Him daily, that we might always be reminded that he is the Lord and ruler of our hearts. with Christ in control, our words will be established forever, by the truth of Christ within.

prayer: Consecrate my life, this day, O Lord. Make me new, inside and out. Please be the ruler of my heart, dear Jesus. I am nothing without your spirit guiding from within. Shine through me, O Lord. Amen.
4 June

The Beginning of the New Creation

The Resurrection was not regarded simply or chiefly as evidence for the immortality of the soul. It is, of course, often so regarded today: I have heard a man maintain that 'the importance of the resurrection is that it proves survival'. such a view cannot at any point be reconciled with the language of the New Testament. On such a view Christ would simply have done what all men do when they die: the only novelty would have been that in His case we were allowed to see it happening. But there is not in Scripture the faintest suggestion that the Resurrection was new evidence for something that had in fact been always happening. The New Testament writers speak as if Christ's achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. he is the 'first fruits', the 'pioneer of life'. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. he has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because he has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.
—from Miracles

1954 Lewis accepts the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University.

June 4

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counselors of peace is joy (12:20).

There was a boy who has to be better than everyone else. He spent most of his time making fun of others. he would bully anyone who was smaller than he was, he always tried to prove he was smarter than everyone else, and he would spread rumors about nice people to make people think less of them. the only people he was nice to or hung around with were people he could feel superior to. Everything he did was to further his own reputation and to throw dirt on the reputations of others around him.

Often our egos and insecurities cause us to think more about ourselves than others. We allow pride to interfere with what we know is right and good. Christ, God become man, bowed Himself down to wash the feet of His disciples. he went so far as to die a criminal's death on our behalf. If God could give so much of Himself for us, why should it be difficult for us to sacrifice a little of ourselves for others? when we give our lives to satisfying our own selfish needs rather than the needs of others, then we practice a deceit that God cannot stand. when we learn to live our lives for others, and we work to make peace instead of causing discord, then we know a special joy that only God can give.

prayer: Forgive those times when I allow selfish pride to get in the way of showing my love for others. Let me know the joy that comes from following the example of Christ, sowing seeds of love and peace wherever I go. Amen.
5 June

Like a Ghost, Yet Not

There are, I allow, certain respects in which the risen Christ resembles the 'ghost' of popular tradition. Like a ghost He 'appears' and 'disappears': locked doors are no obstacle to Him. On the other hand He Himself vigorously asserts that He is corporeal (Luke 24:39-40) and eats broiled fish. It is at this point that the modern reader becomes uncomfortable. he becomes more uncomfortable still at the word, 'Don't touch me; I have not yet gone up to the Father' (John 20:17). for voices and apparitions we are, in some measure, repaired. But what is this that must not be touched? What is all this about going 'up' to the Father? Is He not already 'with the Father' in the only sense that matters? what can 'going up' be except a metaphor for that? And if so, why has He 'not yet' gone? these discomforts arise because the story the 'apostles' actually had to tell begins at this point to conflict with the story we expect and are determined beforehand to read into their narrative.
We expect them to tell of a risen life which is purely 'spiritual' in the negative sense of that word: that is, we use the word 'spiritual' to mean not what it is but what it is not. We mean a life without space, without history, without environment, with no sensuous elements in it. We also, in our heart of hearts, tend to slur over the risen manhood of Jesus, to conceive Him, after death, simply returning into Deity, so that the Resurrection would be no more than the reversal or undoing of the Incarnation. That being so, all references to the risen body make us uneasy: they raise awkward questions.
—from Miracles

June 5

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness (12:23).

There was a woman who thought she was the authority on every subject that came up. Whether it was asked for or not, the woman offered her opinion. No one else could finish a thought or sentence without her butting in to present her thoughts. Some people avoided her, but she didn't care. She always told herself that they were closed-minded, and weren't worth her concern. She felt that her opinions were as good as gold, and so she proclaimed them proudly. what she perceived to be great wisdom caused others to feel pity and embarrassment for her.

There are few things worse than a know-it-all. No one likes to have knowledge lorded over them. the person who talks the loudest and longest generally has the least to say. It is much better to watch carefully our words, and learn to use them well and sparingly. We all have important things to say, and we all have a right to be heard, but we should be as interested in what others have to share as we are committed to our own thoughts. There is a saying, "'Tis better to remain silent and appear a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." Meant as a joke, perhaps, but there is a wisdom there that we all can learn from.

prayer: Make my words blessing rather than a burden, Father. Grace my tongue with the ability to speak wisely and concisely, never being a bore, and help me to be ever mindful of the things other people might wish to share. Amen.
6 June

A Much Stranger Story Than Expected

It is at this point that awe and trembling fall upon us as we read the records. If the story is false, it is at least a much stranger story than we expected, something for which philosophical 'religion', psychical research, and popular superstition have all alike failed to prepare us. If the story is true, then a wholly new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
The body which lives in that new mode is like, and yet unlike, the body His friends knew before the execution. It is differently related to space and probably to time, but by no means cut off from all relation to them. It can perform the animal act of eating. It is so related to matter, as we know it, that it can be touched, though at first it had better not be touched. It has also a history before it which is in view from the first moment of the Resurrection; it is presently going to become different or go somewhere else. That is why the story of the Ascension cannot be separated from that of the Resurrection. All the accounts suggest that the appearances of the Risen Body came to an end; some describe an abrupt end about six weeks after the death. And they describe this abrupt end in a way which presents greater difficulties to the modern mind than any other part of Scripture. For here, surely, we get the implication of all those primitive crudities to which I have said that Christians are not committed: the vertical ascent like a balloon, the local Heaven, the decorated chair to the right of the Father's throne. 'He was caught up into the sky (ouranos)', says St Mark's Gospel 'and sat down ad the right hand of God'. 'He was lifted up', says the author of Acts 'and a cloud cut Him off from their sight'.
—from Miracles

June 6

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad (12:25).

The day had been absolutely terrible. From the moment she had gotten up in the morning things had gone wrong. her son had dragged his feet just long enough to miss the bus. Then she had gotten caught in traffic and the car over heated. By the time she made it to work she was over an hour late, and her boss had read her out. She had missed some important work the day before, which resulted in another lecture. She had dumped a cup of coffee on her skirt at lunch, then had broken a strap on one of her best pairs of shoes. her car hadn't been ready when she went to pick it up, and she had to sit for an hour and a half until it was fixed. She thought, "If one more thing goes wrong, I will scream."

She ran up the steps to her house dreading the thought of making supper and cleaning up after the children, but as she opened the door, her heart leaped. The house was spotless, and dinner was waiting on the table. A note at her place read, "fr the world's greatest mom. I love you." Suddenly, the weight of the day was lifted and things got much brighter.

It is the small ways that often mean the most. We have great power at our disposal to make other people's lives so much brighter and happier. It is a joy to God when we use our power for good, and use it often.

prayer: A kind word can do so much, Lord. Help me to know when to say a kind word or offer a compliment. Let my words be a joy to those around me. Grace my speech with the light of your love. Amen.
7 June

A Whole New Nature

The records represent Christ as passing after death (as no man had passed before) neither into a purely, that is, negatively, 'spiritual' mode of existence nor into a 'natural' life such as we know, but into a life which has its own, new Nature. It represents Him as withdrawing six weeks later, into some different mode of existence. It says—He says—that He goes 'to prepare a place for us'. this presumably means that He is about to create that whole new Nature which will provide the environment or conditions for His glorified humanity and, in Him, for ours. The picture is not what we expected—though whether it is less or more probable and philosophical on that account is another question. It is not the picture of an escape from any and every kind of Nature into some unconditioned and utterly transcendent life. It is the picture of a new human Nature, and a new Nature in general, being brought into existence. We must, indeed, believe the risen body to be extremely different from the mortal body: but the existence, in that new state, of anything that could in any sense be described as 'body' at all, involves some sort of spatial relations and in the long run a whole new universe. That is the picture—not of unmaking but of remaking. The old field of space, time, matter, and the senses is to be weeded, dug, and sown for a new crop. We may be tired of that old field: God is not.
—from Miracles

June 7

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious (12:27).

The squirrels worked diligently to lay side stores for the winter. They moved from place to place, burying and storing their precious nuts. they worked from early in the morning until dusk. As they settled into their homes of sticks and leaves, two bright, beady eyes looked out from under the bushes.

A possum poked its head out from the brush and sniffed at the air. It moved from hiding place to hiding place, uprooting and eating all of the squirrels' hard earned stores. After it ransacked the lot, it returned to its home for a rest.

If you are a squirrel, the tactics of a possum are extremely hard to swallow. There are so many people in the world today who feel they should be entitled to something for nothing. they reap profit from the labors of others without a thought of gratitude or thanks. It is good to know that what is done in this earthly life is all seen by our Father in heaven. Nothing occurs which is outside of His knowledge. those who receive their reward on earth by ill-gotten means will receive no reward in heaven. It is the diligent and devoted here on earth who are pleasing to the Lord and whom He will richly reward in heaven. Our reward lies ahead, and we will enjoy it eternally.

prayer: It is hard to work so hard to see so little gain, O God. PLease give me patience and the strength to proceed. Keep my eyes set on the reward that lies ahead, not the riches that this world can offer. Amen.
8 June

No Ordinary People

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn: We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
—from "The Weight of Glory" (The Weight of Glory)

1941 Lewis preaches "The Weight of Glory" in Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

June 8

A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke (13:1).

It seemed like his father was always picking on him. "Do this." "Do that." there was never a time when he left him alone. Sometimes the boy thought it would be better if he didn't have a father. He couldn't get away with anything., and if he ever got caught doing something he wasn't supposed to, his old man would be on his back in a flash. It wasn't fair.

When he grew up, and had a family of his own, he realized that his father had kept after him to teach him how to live properly. He hadn't been so tough: in fact, there were times when he wondered how his dad had ever kept from being harder. He wished there were some way to thank his father, but he decided the best way was to be a good father to his own kids.

Often we scorn instruction and rebuke because it isn't what we want to hear. But there comes a time when we are glad that we had the instruction. The words come echoing back to us, and we begin, at long last, to understand why they were offered. Too often we reject the words without actually paying attention to them. We need to listen to instruction no matter how much we don't want to hear it. It takes maturity to realize that others may know what is best for us, and in god's case, no one could ever know anything better than He does.

prayer: Break my resistant spirit, O Lord. Help me to open myself to your wise counsel. Lead me in the paths that I need to walk, and be patient as I learn to listen. guide and protect my steps, Father. Amen.
9 June

What Did They See and What Did They Think They Saw?

To say that Christ's passage to a new 'Nature' could involve no such [upwards] movement, or no movement at all, within the 'Nature' he was leaving, is very arbitrary. Where there is passage, there is departure; and departure is an event in the region from which the traveller is departing. All this, even on the assumption that the Ascending Christ is in a three-dimensional space. If it is not that kind of body, and space is not that kind of space, then we are even less qualified to say what the spectators of this entirely new event might or might not see or feel as if they had seen. There is, of course, no question of a human body as we know it existing in interstellar space as we know it. The Ascension belongs to a New Nature. We are discussing only what the 'joint' between the Old Nature and the new, the precise moment of transition, would look like.
But what really worries us is the conviction that, whatever we say, the New Testament writers meant something quite different. We feel sure that they thought they had seen their Master setting off on a journey for a local 'Heaven' where God sat in a throne and where there was another throne waiting for Him. And I believe that in a sense that is just what they did think. And I believe that, for this reason, whatever they had actually seen (sense perception, almost by hypothesis, would be confused at such a moment) they would almost certainly have remembered it as a vertical movement. What we must not say is that they 'mistook' local 'Heavens' and celestial throne-rooms and the like for the 'spiritual' Heaven of union with god and supreme power and beatitude.
—from Miracles

June 9

Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner (13:6).

Old time Western movies have a magical appeal. Good and evil was clearly defined by the color of the hat. The bad guys always got theirs in the end, and the good guys battled unbelievable odds, and always came out on top. There seemed to be something inherently wrong with the bad guys which tripped them up, and led to their downfall. The good guys knew all the right moves, and never made the same kinds of mistakes as the bad guys did. Righteousness would be rewarded and wickedness would be destroyed. People who loved Westerns loved them because there was such a basic sense of justice.

We all want justice. We need to believe that good will ultimately prevail, and that evil will be destroyed once and for all. Christ did just that. Christ slammed the door on evil and ensured that good indeed would prevail. Through Christ's victory over death, sin was overthrown and death lost all power. virtue and righteousness prevailed, sending forth a light that will never be extinguished. The Westerns had the right idea. The black hats don't stand a chance. the good guys have already won!

prayer: Lord, I praise your victory over the grave, and rejoice that death has been destroyed for all time. Sin has no lasting power because you have washed me clean in the blood of Christ. I thank you, and I praise your holy name, for giving me such a precious and lasting gift. Amen.
10 June

Witness Reports

Heaven can mean (1) The unconditioned Divine Life beyond all worlds. (2) Blessed participation in that Life by a created spirit. (3) The whole Nature or system of conditions in which redeemed human spirits, still remaining human, can enjoy such participation fully and for ever. This is the Heaven Christ goes to 'prepare' for us. (4) The physical Heaven, the sky, the space in which Earth moves. What enables us to distinguish these senses and hold them clearly apart is not any special spiritual purity but the fact that we are the heirs to centuries of logical analysis: not that we are sons to Abraham but that we are sons to Aristotle., We are not to suppose that the writers of the New Testament mistook Heaven in sense four or three for Heaven in sense two or one. You cannot mistake a half sovereign for a sixpence until you know the English system of coinage—that is, until you know the difference between them. In their idea of Heaven, all these meanings were latent, ready to be brought out by later analysis. They never thought merely of the blue sky or merely of a 'spiritual' heaven. When they looked up at the blue sky they never doubted that there, whence light and heat and the precious rain descended, was the home of God: but on the other hand, when they thought of one ascending to that Heaven they never doubted He was 'ascending' in what we should call a 'spiritual' sense.
—from Miracles

June 10

There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches (13:7).

He had worked long and hard, and finally had enough saved for the stereo he'd always wanted. He had dreamed of this set for years. Now it was within his reach. The night before he was to go out and buy it, a knock came at his door. One of his closest friends came in crying and told him that her father had suffered a stroke, and that he was critical. She said she felt helpless because she was so far away, and she did't have the money to get home. It would cost over four hundred dollars to make it. Hesitantly, he took the money from its resting place and he gave his friend the amount she needed, plus a few extra dollars. He told her not to worry about it. All she had to do was go home and take care of her father. When she left, he found he couldn't be sad. The stereo would wait. It really wasn't that important. What was important was that he felt great inside.

Things lose value quickly when we make them more important than people. When we give what we have out of love for others, we come to know a joy beyond words. Selfishness kills the spirit, but giving sets the soul ablaze. We come in contact with Christ's spirit the more we give to others and the less we think of self.

prayer: Take from me the things I have to give for others. All I have is yours, heavenly God. Make me an agent of your giving and love. Let me spread the joy of your light to everyone I meet. Amen.
11 June

Reliable Eyewitnesses?

The fact that the Galilean shepherds could not distinguish what they saw at the Ascension from that kind of ascent which, by its very nature, could never be seen at all, does not prove on the one hand that they were unspiritual, nor on the other that they saw nothing. A man who really believes that 'Heaven' is in the sky may well, in his heart, have a far truer and more spiritual conception of it than many a modern logician who could expose that fallacy with a few strokes of his pen. For he who does the will of the Father shall know the doctrine. Irrelevant material splendours in such a man's idea of the vision of God will do no harm, for they are not there for their own sakes. Purity from such images in a merely theoretical Christian's idea will do no good if they have been banished only by logical criticism.
—from Miracles

June 11

The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out (13:9).

Two roommates prepared for finals. One had been diligent all through the semester, and had studied every night. The other had floated through classes, doing very little work throughout the semester. As finals approached, the first student was relaxed and reviewed quickly and quietly. The other roommate found that he was lost, buried beneath a mountain of work too high to climb in the small amount of time left. The first student studied normal hours, then got plenty of rest and was fresh for the exams. The other student studied late into the night, burning the midnight oil, and found himself exhausted as the testing began.

When we do the things we know we should, and we face up to our responsibilities, we find that they aren't really such a burden at all. When we shirk our duties, however, we find that they can become too much for us to handle. That light which burns within each one of us, burns most brightly when we do the things we should. When we avoid doing what is right, the light flickers and dims. Righteousness fuels the fire. Wickedness works to snuff it out. The choice is ours. We can burn brightly, shining forth with the light of Christ, or we can shine weakly, in danger of going out at any moment.

prayer: Let my life shine forth brightly, Lord. Feed the fire which burns within my breast. Make it a beacon of your love for the entire world to see. Help me to shine without flickering or fading. Amen.
12 June

An Idea Why Heaven is Always "Up"

It is not an accident that simple-minded people, however spiritual, should blend the ideas of God and Heaven and the blue sky. It is a fact, not a fiction, that light and life-giving heat do come down from the sky to Earth. the analogy of the sky's role to begetting and of the Earth's role to bearing is sound as far as it goes. The huge dome of the sky is of all things sensuously perceived the most like infinity. And when God made space and worlds that move in space, and clothed our world with air, and gave us such eyes and such imaginations as those we have, He knew what the sky would mean to us. And since nothing in His work is accidental, if He knew, He intended. We cannot be certain that this was not indeed one of the chief purposes for which Nature was created; still less that it was not one of the chief reasons why the withdrawal was allowed to affect human senses as a movement upwards. (A disappearance into the Earth would beget a wholly different religion.) the ancients in letting the spiritual symbolism of the sky flow straight into their minds without stopping to discover by analysis that it was a symbol, were not entirely mistaken. In one way they were perhaps less mistaken than we.
—from Miracles

June 12

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom (13:10).

A professor hated to be questioned. His word was law, and any student who challenged him was in for a fight. he would argue his side, and would take glee in tearing apart his less-than-well-informed opponent. He prided himself on his knowledge, and he could not tolerate having that knowledge threatened. Few people tried to argue their point, because they knew they couldn't win. The professor greatly hindered his ability to teach because he intimidated students who had legitimate questions so that they would not raise them. Even though he was the best at what he taught, most students avoided him because of his haughty attitude.

When we become too proud of our accomplishments, we lose the ability to communicate with other people. We value our own achievements higher than we value others' rights. Our attitude becomes one of being right or being the best at any cost. but the cost is too high. We are called to show love and caring for other people. We cannot show them appropriate love if we think they are our inferiors. We must learn to bury our pride and begin to sacrifice our egocentricity in the name of love for those around us.

prayer: What I know is not nearly as important as who I am. And who I am is not even close to who you created me to be, Father. Help me to row into a maturity where i can set self aside, and give freely of myself to others. Amen.
13 June

Close Up and Small

Another way of expressing the real character of the miracles would be to say that though isolated from other actions, they are not isolated in either of the two ways we are apt to suppose. They are not, on the one hand, isolated from other Divine acts: they do close and small and, as it were, in focus what God at other times does so large that men do not attend to it. Neither are they isolated exactly as we suppose from other human acts: they anticipate powers which all men will have when they also are 'sons' of God and enter into that 'glorious liberty'. Christ's isolation is not that of a prodigy but of a pioneer. He is the first of His kind; He will not be the last.
—from Miracles

June 13

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase (13:11).

A successful actress had made millions just on her looks alone. Her face had graced the pages of a hundred ads, and she appeared on television and in movies regularly. She received as much as $60,000 for an episode of a regular series on television. Everything seemed to be going well, until an accident scarred her, and she was no longer in demand. Though she had made millions, she had spent millions just as fast. She left acting a poor and bitter woman.

We often envy the life of stars. We believe that they have everything a person could want, and that their lives are somehow magical. There is magic to the live of stars, but it is not all good. Some of the magic is 'here today, gone tomorrow.' Nothing is permanent, and the big money they make is gone with nothing to show for it.

It is good to be satisfied with what we receive for the labors we pursue. What we receive as wages for the work we do is money well received and deserved. We can be proud of the fact that we work hard for our money. It is right that we should receive gain for the effort we put forth. God rewards those who are steadfast in their labors. Those who receive wealth for their vanities have already received their reward.

prayer: Make me steadfast in my endeavors, O Lord. Keep my eyes set on my labors, and bless all my efforts. Let me feel the joy and contentment that honest labor brings, Almighty God. Amen.
14 June

Fitting into the Pattern

It is therefore inaccurate to define a miracle as something that breaks the laws of Nature. It doesn't. If I knock out my pipe I alter the position of a great many atoms: in the long run, and to an infinitesimal degree, of all the atoms there are. Nature digests or assimilates this event with perfect ease and harmonises it in a twinkling with all other events. It is one more bit of raw material for the laws to apply to, and they apply. I have simply thrown one event into the general cataract of events and it finds itself at home there and conforms to all other events. If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter He has created a new situation at that point. Immediately all Nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later, a child is born. We see every day that physical nature is not in the least incommoded by the daily inrush of events from biological nature or from psychological nature. If events ever come from beyond Nature altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them. Be sure she will rush to the point where se is invaded, as the defensive forces rush to a cut in our finger, and there hasten to accommodate the new comer. The moment it enters her realm it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate, miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will suffer all the ordinary processes of textual corruption, miraculous bread will be digested. The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.
—from Miracles

June 14

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life (13:12).

The snow fell furiously. Looking from the picture window, it was impossible even to see to the street. The wind blew the snow into great drifts, and travel had come to a standstill. Their son should have been home hours ago. He was driving in from the north, and they had hoped he would beat the storm. His mother sat transfixed by the blizzard, trying to gaze through it for some sign of her son. The father paced the room, mumbling occasionally about getting his coat and going out after him. The minutes ticked by into hours, and a tear trickled down the woman's cheek.

As darkness fell, two dim lights cut through the swirling white. A police truck pulled up in front of the house, and a young man jumped out. He ran through the front door and greeted his mother and father. His mother burst into tears, and his father grasped him in a bear-like embrace. The tense period of waiting was over, and the rejoicing began.

Waiting is never easy, but when we are anticipating something hoped for and it doesn't appear, we have to fight the disappointment, and sometimes fear. However, when our desire finally arrives, the joy is even greater. As we Christians await our eternal home, we grow more appreciative of it as time goes by. When it is finally ours, our joy will be overwhelming.

prayer: Patience is one thing I could use more of, Lord. As I look toward heaven, and long to be united with you, please fill me with your patience, and allow me to learn all I can during my earthly stay. Amen.
15 June

How to Think About the Miracles of Jesus

I contend that in all these miracles [of Jesus] alike the incarnate God does suddenly and locally something that God has done or will do in general. Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of Nature. They focus at a particular point either God's actual, or His future, operations on the universe. When they reproduce operations we have already seen on the large scale they are miracles of the Old Creation: when they focus those which are still to come they are miracles of the New. Not one of them is isolated or anomalous: each carries the signature of the God whom we know through conscience and from nature. Their authenticity is attested by the style.
Before going any further I should say that I do not propose to raise the question, which has before now been asked, whether Christ was able to do these things only because He was God or also because He was perfect man; for it is a possible view that if Man had never fallen all men would have been able to do the like. It is one of the glories of Christianity that we can say of this question, 'It doesn't matter.' Whatever may have been the powers of unfallen man, it appears that those of redeemed Man will be almost unlimited. Christ, reascending from His great dive, is bringing up Human Nature with Him. Where He goes, it goes too. It will be made 'like Him'. If in His miracles He is not acting as the Old Man might have done before his Fall, then He is acting as the New Man, every new man, will do after his redemption. When humanity, borne on His shoulders, passes with Him up from the cold dark water into the green warm water and out at last into the sunlight and the air, it also will be bright and coloured.
—from Miracles

June 15

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded (13:13).

The woman sat at her desk reading the Bible over her lunch hour. One of her associates came up to her and said, "You don't really believe that garbage, do you? That's for weirdos and Jesus freaks." the woman looked up at the young man and said, "Have you ever read it? Do you know what it really says?"

"Hey, I don't have time to waste. You go on and read your fairy tales. I'll stick to reality."

"What happens if this is reality?" she asked, holding up the Bible.

"I'll worry about that when the time comes," he replied.

The time for a decision like that is now. If people reject the opportunity to read the Scriptures, and come to know the truth of Christ, then they will not get a second chance. Anyone who despises the word of God will have no place with God in the final times. It is the person who reads the Bible, and lives their life accordingly, who will receive the reward of life everlasting. There is no greater book in existence, and it behooves each person to take its contents very seriously. Only a foolish person criticizes something that he or she has never read. It is the prudent person who makes time to investigate, then draws a conclusion based on what they have experienced.

prayer: You have become real to me through the reading of your word. Assist me as I attempt to spread your word and bring others to the threshold of your truth contained in the Old and New Testaments. Bless this effort. Amen.
16 June

Be Careful What You Think You Want

You are probably quite right in thinking that you will never see a miracle done: you are probably equally right in thinking that there was a natural explanation of anything in your past life which seemed, at the first glance, to be 'rum' or 'odd'. God does not shake miracles into Nature at random as if from a pepper-caster. They come on great occasions: they are found at the great ganglions of history—not of political or social history, but of that spiritual history which cannot be fully known by men. If your own life does not happen to be near one of those great ganglions, how should you expect to see one? If we were heroic missionaries, apostles, or martyrs, it would be a different matter. But why you or I? Unless you live near a railway, you will not see trains go past your windows. How likely is it that you or I will be present when a peace-treaty is signed, when a great scientific discovery is made, when a dictator commits suicide? That we should see a miracle is even less likely. Nor, if we understand, shall we be anxious to do so. 'Nothing almost sees miracles but misery'. Miracles and martyrdoms tend to bunch about the same areas of history—areas we have naturally no wish to frequent. Do not, I earnestly advise you, demand an ocular proof unless you are already perfectly certain that it is not forthcoming.
—from Miracles

1895 Warren Hamilton Lewis, C. S. Lewis's older brother, is born in Dundella Villa, on the outskirts of Belfast.

June 16

Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly (13:16).

A youth bragged to his friends about an escapade where he had hot-wired a car and gone joy riding with his girl friend. He told and retold the story a number of times, until it came to the attention of the school principal. The principal notified the police, and they arrived on the scene to talk to the boy. They led him out of the school in hand-cuffs, and a permanent blot went on his record. Had he not acted the part of the hot-shot, no one would have known who had done it. As it was, he set a trap for himself from which he could not escape.

Sometimes it is hard to know even to keep our mouths shut. We foolishly talk about things better left unsaid. The wise man or woman learns early when to hold their tongue. There is nothing to be gained by bragging of our misdeeds. Those things should be forgotten quickly, and the good things that we can do should be shared instead. God is not proud of us when we commit sins, and He is doubly displeased when we brag about them. God rejoices at the right that we do, and He respects us more when we learn to speak discretely and wisely.

prayer: Father, I ask that you guide my words. Guard that I may never speak proudly of the things I have done wrong, but let me repent totally, and be made clean. Let my words be words of kindness and charity, and help me to know when it is better not to speak at all. Amen.
17 June

Threshold of Belief

And yet... and yet... It is that and yet which I fear more than any positive argument against miracles: that soft, tidal return of your habitual outlook as you close the book and the familiar four walls about you and the familiar noises from the street reassert themselves. Perhaps (if I dare suppose so much) you have been led on at times while you were reading, have felt ancient hopes and fears astir in your heart, have perhaps come almost to the threshold of belief—but now? No. It just won't do. Here is the ordinary, here is the 'real' world, round you again. The dream is ending; as all other similar dreams have always ended. For of course this is not the first time such a thing has happened. More than once in your life before this you have heard a strange story, read some odd book, seen something queer or imagined you have seen it, entertained some wild hope or terror: but always it ended in the same way. And always you wondered how you could, even for a moment, have expected it not to. For that 'real world' when you came back to it is so unanswerable. Of course the strange story was false, of course the voice was really subjective, of course the apparent portent was a coincidence. You are ashamed of yourself for having ever thought otherwise: ashamed, relieved, amused, disappointed, and angry all at once. You ought to have known that, as Arnold says, 'Miracles don't happen'.
—from Miracles

June 17

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored (13:18).

A man who was very successful in business was asked what his secret was. He answered, "I never think I know everything. I'm always ready to listen to a new idea, and I always want to know when I'm doing something wrong." For forty years he had been a top financial consultant, and he had a reputation for listening to even the youngest of colleagues. He never defended himself when he was rebuked by his superiors. He merely listened to the comment, then did his best to improve.

This is the kind of spirit God wants in His children. God wants each one of us to grow to our full potential. Jesus tells us that we should be perfect as God Himself is perfect. The only way we can hope to move in that direction is to open ourselves to the constructive comments and criticisms of others. People can see from the outside, things we might miss from the inside. Having the integrity and wisdom to seek out the counsel of others shows a definite desire to grow. We can do little else that is so pleasing to God. Only a fool refuses to listen to the observations of others. That person is too insecure to listen, and too self-centered to want to grow.

prayer: Dear heavenly Father, bless me that I might grow to my full potential. Inspire me by your word and by the example of your Son, Jesus Christ. Fill me with your Spirit so that I may more closely resemble you in all that I do. Amen.
18 June

What the World is Really Like

Screwtape on using a false concept of "real":
Probably the scenes he is now witnessing [in the London Blitz] will not provide material for an intellectual attack on his faith—your previous failures have put that out of your power. But there is a sort of attack on the emotions which can still be tried. It turns on making him feel, when first he seems human remains plastered on a wall, that this is 'what the world is really like' and that all his religion has been a fantasy. You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the word 'real'. They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, 'All that really happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building'; here 'real' means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had. On the other hand, they will also say 'It's all very well discussing that high dive as you sit here in an armchair, but wait till you get up there and see what it's really like': here 'real' is being used in the opposite sense to mean, not the physical facts (which they know already while discussing the matter in armchairs) but the emotional effect those facts will have on a human consciousness. Either application of the word could be defended; but our business is to keep the two going at once so that the emotional value of the word 'real' can be placed now on one side of the account, now on the other, as it happens to suit us.
—from The Screwtape Letters

June 18

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repaid (13:19-21).

The young man was basically a good person, but he didn't have too many friends. He didn't seem to fit in with too many groups, so he found himself hanging around with the less desirable crowd. They accepted him just as he was. He knew there were times when he should have refused to go along with them, but it just didn't seem worth the risk. Now, he wasn't so sure. He was sitting in a police station, waiting to see what would happen. They had been picked up for vandalism, and even though he hadn't joined in the destruction, he was being held just the same.

If we choose to follow in the footsteps of fools, we will have to suffer the consequences. When we walk along blindly, we are in danger of falling into sin. We must watch our steps and turn from that which is evil. It is our obligation to flee from sin and evil. If we keep company with fools we will be destroyed by our own folly. It is much better for us to surround ourselves with those who are committed to what is right and good. Then we will not have to fear the result, for God will see our efforts, and He will reward us richly.

prayer: The company I keep influences me greatly, O God. Help me to discern who I should have as friends and who I should avoid. Let my company be a blessing to others, and lead me in all your ways. Amen.
19 June

Discerning What's Real

Screwtape twists Reality:
The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are 'real' while the spiritual elements are 'subjective'; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist. Thus in birth the blood and pain are 'real', the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view; in death, the terror and ugliness reveal what death 'really means'. The hatefulness of a hated person is 'real'—in hatred you see men as they are, you are disillusioned; but the loveliness of a loved person is merely a subjective haze concealing a 'real' core of sexual appetite or economic association. Wars and poverty are 'really' horrible; peace and plenty are mere physical facts about which men happen to have certain sentiments. The creatures are always accusing one another of wanting 'to eat the cake and have it'; but thanks to our labours they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake and not eating it. Your patient, properly handled, will have no difficulty in regarding his emotion at the sight of human entrails as a revelation of Reality and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment.
—from The Screwtape Letters

June 19

Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment (13:23).

The farmland was rich in minerals, and its produce was bountiful. The farm workers labored long and hard, and through their efforts the yield was high. Unfortunately, the laborers received little recompense for their hard work. The farm was owned by a large corporation, and the residents were all hired by the farm at low wages. Their land was taken from them, and they in turn were made slaves to it. Most of the farm workers were on the verge of starvation, while they worked in plentiful fields each day. The injustice of it all was incredible, but true. Their land was some of the most fertile in the world, but they were among the poorest of people.

Injustice should touch us at the very root of our soul. That part of us which is in God's image should be enraged by the unfairness in our world. And it should be the Christ in us which compels us to try to fight injustice wherever we see it. We may not be rich or powerful, but we do control our actions and our resources. We have the ability to refuse to support others who would take advantage of the poor. We can speak out against injustice, and we can offer comfort to anyone who is persecuted. When we do this, we have the joy of our heavenly Father.

prayer: Ours is a world of great injustice and inequality. Please guide me that I might work to change the way things are. Open my eyes to the plight of the poor, and lead me in the ways that I might combat it. Amen.
20 June


I mean by this [Everythingism] the belief that 'everything', or 'the whole show', must be self-existent, must be more important than every particular thing, and must contain all particular things in such a way that they cannot be really very different from one another—that they must be not merely 'at one', but one. Thus the Everythingist, if he starts from God, becomes a Pantheist; there must be nothing that is not God. If he starts from Nature he becomes a naturalist; there must be nothing that is not Nature. He thinks that everything is in the long run 'merely' a recursor or a development or a relic or an instance or a disguise, of everything else. This philosophy I believe to be profoundly untrue. One of the moderns has said that reality is 'incorrigibly plural'. I think he is right. All things come from One. All things are related—related in different and complicated ways. but all things are not one. The word 'everything' should mean simply the total (a total to be reached, if we knew enough, by enumeration) of all the things that exist at a given moment. It must not be given a mental capital letter; must not (under the influence of picture thinking) be turned into a sort of pool in which particular things sink or even a cake in which they are the currants. Real things are sharp and knobbly and complicated and different. Everythingism is congenial to our minds because it is the natural philosophy of a totalitarian, mass-producing, conscripted age. That is why we must be perpetually on our guard against it.
—from Miracles

June 20

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (13:24).

Everyone envied Jim. His father allowed him to do anything he wanted. he wasn't expected to do any work, he never had a curfew, and he got just about everything he asked for. His father never yelled at him, and he never got in trouble. He seemed to have everything he could want. That's why it came as such a surprise when he ran away from home.

When they finally found him, he told his friends that he couldn't take it anymore. He knew his father didn't love him. His father didn't care at all what happened to him. What had seemed so good to all Jim's friends turned out to be torture for Jim himself.

We need guidance and instruction. There are times when we wish we didn't have to have it, but it is vital for us to grow. God gives us instruction out of love for us. We might think that it would be easier if God didn't give us His law, but eventually we would feel abandoned and unloved. God knows what is best for us in every situation, and we know of His love because he is with us to guide us every step of the way. We would be completely lost if we could not feel God's presence in our lives. Thankfully, we never have to worry about that happening.

prayer: O Lord, I thank you for your presence in my life. Though I often do not want to be told what I should do, I know that your word is given out of love and concern for me. Make me open to your instructions. Amen.
21 June

Wild Rumours

What man, in his natural condition, has not got, is Spiritual life—the higher and different sort of life that exists in God. We use the same word life for both: but if you thought that both must therefore be the same sort of thing, that would be like thinking that the 'greatness' of space and the 'greatness' of God were the same sort of greatness. In reality, the difference between Biological life and Spiritual life is so important that I am going to give them two distinct names. The Biological sort which comes to us through Nature, and which (like everything else in Nature) is always tending to run down and decay so that it can only be kept up by incessant subsidies from Nature in the form of air, water, food, etc., is Bios. The Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity, and which made the whole natural universe, is Zoe. Bios has, to be sure, a certain shadowy or symbolic resemblance to Zoe: but only the sort of resemblance there is between a photo and a place, or a statue and a man. A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man.
And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor's shop. We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.
—from Mere Christianity

June 21

The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want (13:25).

Two men had been friends throughout their lives. One man was extremely wealthy having accumulated great riches throughout his life. The other man was well off, but he could hardly be considered wealthy. The rich man asked his friend, "Why is it you have so much less than I do, but you appear to be so much happier?"

His friend replied, "I've always been content with what I had. You on the other hand, have set one goal after another. Once you attain one goal, you set one higher. I've always had everything I wanted and lacked nothing. You've never been satisfied with what you had, but always wanted more."

When we look at what we have and are thankful for it, we find that we are fulfilled, but when we are always longing for the things we do not have, then we find ourselves in want, and we cannot be happy. The wise person looks not at what they do not have but they concentrate on what is theirs. The fool ignores the blessings he or she has been given, and they focus on the things they wish they could own. So long as we look to the things we do not have, we can never be satisfied, but if we will be content with what we have, then we will never have to know want. God has given graciously to us all. It is right to thank Him for His great gifts.

prayer: O Lord, I cannot believe how much I have. I cannot thank you enough for all you have given me. Help me to remember that true wealth is not measured by what I own, but by the joy that you have put into my life. Amen.
22 June

God in Our Prayers

An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.
—from Mere Christianity

June 22

He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the Lord: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him (14:2).

A man had a different girlfriend every few months. He would meet someone new, move in with her, grow tired of the relationship and then move on. His life was fraught with loose morals and a lack of commitment. One girl once asked him to go to church with her. His answer to her was, 'Look, I don't have much to do with God, and He doesn't have much to do with me. I'm not going out of my way to have some preacher make me feel guilty for living my life the way I want to."

Wrongdoers usually know that what they want to do is wrong. They sense that they are not living as they should, and they will avoid any situation which points that out to them. Many people who choose to walk in the paths of sin react in anger to the idea of God. They do not want to believe in anyone who would tell them not to do the things they love to do. The person who tries to live a good life, doing what they feel to be right, embraces the idea of a loving God who rejoices in what is right. God will indeed make us feel guilty when we do what is wrong. Guilt is given that we might know when we have strayed from the right path, and it can motivate us to return to the place where we know we should be.

prayer: O God, I often hide myself from you in shame at the things I know that I should not be doing. I feel guilt, and it makes me feel alien to you. Bridge that chasm I put between us. Forgive my wrongdoing, and lift me high within your love. Amen.
23 June

Very Hard, Yet Very Easy

We were considering the Christian idea of 'putting on Christ', or first 'dressing up' as a son of God in order that you may finally become a real son. What I want to make clear is that this is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all. ....
The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says 'Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.'
Both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do. You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, 'Take up your Cross'—in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, 'My yoke is easy and my burden light.' He means both.
—from Mere Christianity

June 23

A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth (14:6).

A girl sat in the circle of the Bible study and listened to the lesson being taught. When asked what she thought, she replied, "This is stupid." She folded her arms across her chest and leaned back in her chair. She tuned out the rest of the lesson, and afterward she vowed never to return. A friend of her said that she was being closed-minded, but she said, "I don't have time for this junk. I want to know how to live better, just like everybody else, but I don't think this helps at all." The girl never gave the group a second chance.

It is interesting how some people can find the answers they are seeking in churches, while others seem unaffected. Partially, it has to do with the attitude we come with. If we are open to God, and are willing to give Him a chance to disclose Himself, we will find Him. But if we come skeptically, and we scorn His power to change lives, then we block His effectiveness. For every attempt He makes to reach us, we come up with some excuse to explain it away, and we come away as empty as when we arrived. If we come before God unwilling to listen to His word, then we will never find wisdom, but when we are open minded and willing to hear, God will grant us the knowledge we so desire.

prayer: I come before you with an open heart and an open mind. Grant that I might have knowledge which passes human understanding. Guard me from doubt and disbelief. Open my eyes to your truth. Amen.
24 June

The Most Difficult Is the Easiest

Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. The lazy boy will try to learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run. Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you funk it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing.
It is like that here. The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call 'ourselves', to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be 'good'. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way — centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.
—from Mere Christianity

1961 Lewis is diagnosed as having an enlarged prostate gland; doctors ultimately determine that surgery would be too dangerous.

June 24

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor (14:9).

A fifteen-year-old boy was left alone for the weekend while his parents were away on a trip. The boy had a group of his friends over, and while they were together, he suggested they take his mother's car out for a drive. A few of his friends protested, but he said, "Come on, my dad lets me drive sometimes. It won't hurt anything."

"What if we get caught?" one boy asked.

"We won't get caught. Quit being a chicken."

The boys went out and got in the car. The young man drove out onto country roads, and hit the gas. The car sped along, and all was fine until they came to a curve. The car was going too fast, and skidded from the road into a tree. None of the boys were hurt, but the car was badly damaged. One of the boys said, "We won't get caught, huh? This is all your fault!"

When we mock sin, and pretend that we can't be hurt by it, we are fooling ourselves. Sin has great power to hurt and destroy. Only a fool thinks otherwise. The wise man or woman knows the risk of sin, and they learn to avoid it. When we resist sin, we are walking in the favor of the Lord.

prayer: Father, remind me of the danger of sin. Keep me from the things which can destroy me. Set my feet on the path of righteousness, and never let me stray. Be with me as I journey, Lord. Amen.
25 June

Let's Pretend

What do we do next? What difference does all the theology make? It can start making a difference tonight. If you are interested enough to have read thus far you are probably interested enough to make a shot at saying your prayers: and, whatever else you say, you will probably say the Lord's Prayer.
Its very first words are Our Father. Do you now see what those words mean? They mean quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending. Because, of course, the moment you realise what the words mean, you realise that you are not a son of God. You are not a being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centered fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.
Why? What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, even on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind, where the pretence is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretence leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were.
—from Mere Christianity

1918 Lewis is moved to a convalescent home in Ashton Court near Clifton, Bristol, to complete his recovery from battle injuries.

June 25

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy (14:10).

The woman was in shock at the death of her husband. They had been married for fifteen years, and she had settled into the idea that they would be together forever. She couldn't quite believe that it was true. Every once in awhile she would walk through the house just to make sure he wasn't there somewhere.

Her friends had been so kind and helpful, but she was glad they were gone now. She thought if she heard one more person tell her they knew exactly how she felt she would scream. They didn't know. They couldn't. Somehow it was different. She'd said the same thing on a number of occasions, but never again. It didn't do anything to help. Her pain was her own, and there was no way that anyone could share it.

It is good to have friends that care, but we can have no greater friend than Jesus Christ. Christ dwells within our heart, and so he is the only one who can honestly comfort us when our heart is broken. Christ is as close to us as we are to ourselves. He is a part of us, and when we suffer, He suffers, but also when we rejoice, He rejoices with us. We are one with Christ, and it is so good to know that we never have to face life alone. He is with us in good times and bad, and He will never leave us.

prayer: Christ Jesus, you know me to the very depth of my being. Dwell within my heart, and grace it with your strength and love. Let me feel your presence within me. guide me, protect me, stay with me, I pray. Amen.
26 June

Pretending a Little Less

Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children's games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.
Now, the moment you realise 'Here I am, dressing up as Christ,' it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you were really a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash- up. Well, go and do it.
—from Mere Christianity

June 26

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (14:12).

The day's work had been so long and hard. The man stood on the road where the train tracks crossed. If he took the road, the walk would take another half hour. If he cut across the train trestle it would take only ten minutes. Looking both ways down the tracks, he decided to chance it. He began to cross the high bridge. About halfway, he heard the familiar whistle of the evening train. Usually it was a sound of comfort, but now it struck terror into his heart. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that the train was coming on fast. He began to run, but he had little hope he could make it to the other side. He had always told his boys never to try to cross the train trestle because of the danger. He only wished now that he had taken his own advice.

Often we are fooled into believing that something wrong is right. We make excuses to ourselves, and then we proceed to do something we know to be wrong. When we do that we must be prepared to pay the consequences. It is much better to avoid risk and do those things that we know we should. If we will walk only on the path of righteousness, then we will come to know a life free from dread and fear. It is through a life well lived that we come to know true happiness and joy.

prayer: Jesus Christ, my Lord, you have saved me from myself. You guide me in the paths of righteousness for your name's sake. Keep my feet firmly planted on the path which leads to life eternal. Amen.
27 June

Pretence Becomes Reality

You see what is happening. The Christ Himself, the Son of God who is man (just like you) and God (just like His Father) is actually at your side and is already at that moment beginning to turn your pretence into a reality. This is not merely a fancy way of saying that your conscience is telling you what to do. If you simply ask your conscience, you get one result; if you remember that you are dressing up as Christ, you get a different one. There are lots of things which your conscience might not call definitely wrong (especially things in your mind) but which you will see at once you cannot go on doing if you are seriously trying to be like Christ. For you are no longer thinking simply about right and wrong; you are trying to catch the good infection from a Person. It is more like painting a portrait than like obeying a set of rules. And the odd thing is that while in one way it is much harder than keeping rules, in another way it is far easier.
The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to 'inject' His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.
—from Mere Christianity

June 27

Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness (14:13).

She hated closing time at the bar. The crowds had thinned and the lights were unplugged, and everything quieted down. It got too quiet. She had to face the thought of going back to her lonely apartment. She came to the bar to melt into the noise and laughter. She could be charming in the right setting. She could at least have a good time for a few hours, but it always came to an abrupt end and she had to face her desperate unhappiness. She sometimes wished she could find a party which never ended, but that was senseless. Eventually she would have to come back to reality, and her problems would all be waiting for her when she did.

So many of our attempts to find happiness end in futility. We look in all the wrong places for fulfillment and happiness. We exert such energy pursuing good things, and we never attain them. The deep loneliness that we sometimes feel inside is a homesickness for our creator and heavenly home. When we take Christ into our hearts, we never have to face the loneliness which destroys. We stop looking for artificial answers, and we focus our attention on the one real answer: God. In Him, we find fulfillment and life.

prayer: O God, you have given my life such meaning. I no longer seek other answers, for I have found the one true answer. In Christ I have found everything I could ever desire. Thank you, O Lord. Amen.
28 June

As We Become Like Christ

And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians 'being born again'; it talks about them 'putting on Christ'; about Christ 'being formed in us'; about our coming to 'have the mind of Christ'.
Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.
—from Mere Christianity

1946 Lewis receives an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from St. Andrew's University, Scotland.

June 28

The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going (14:15).

The TV preacher had sounded so sincere. For years, the woman had faithfully sent in money whenever she could. The work he did was so important, and he had brought her so much comfort through the years. She had given a lot, even when she really didn't have extra to spare, but it had all been for the glory of God. She was a part of a growing ministry which spread God's word throughout the world, via satellite. She had been proud of her efforts, until now.

The headlines read that the minister was being indicted for fraud and illegal use of funds. He lived in a palatial estate, and drove big fancy cars, but she always had believed that they had been gifts. Now it appeared that he had used money from people like her to fund these luxuries. She felt so used and silly. It was enough to make her lose faith. Now what would she do?

As stewards of God's world, we are charged to look wisely before we enter into new areas. God gave us our minds to use to His glory. We must think carefully before we commit ourselves to any proposal. It is the wise person who walks carefully, but the fool rushes ahead, asking no questions, and taking no precautions. Faith is admirable, but only when it is founded upon wise action and thought.

prayer: Allow me to deal with prudence and good sense, Father. Help me to discern truth from that which is false. Make me a good steward of the gifts I have been given. Help me to do what is right, keeping me from foolish ways which might destroy. Amen.
29 June

Rats in the Cellar

We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
—from Mere Christianity

June 29

A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated (14:16-7)

The two players sat transfixed, their entire concentration on the chess board in front of them. The match had gone on for over an hour, and the heat was rising. Both players were looking for blood. They had played masterfully. Then, as quickly as it had started, it was over. A single wrong move resulted in defeat. The loser stood up abruptly and wiped out the table. He stormed to the side of the room, and slammed his hand into the wall, breaking bones and tearing the skin. He cried out in pain and rage, and yelled for the room to be cleared. When the storm had subsided, he sat alone in pain and shame, not only from his defeat, but from his childish display.

Self-control is an important part of the Christian's life. Christ had many occasions where He could have lost control and wreaked havoc on His enemies. That would have destroyed His mission on earth; to teach love and provide an example for how we should live our lives. Anger is a natural reaction, but it cannot be allowed to take control of us. When we live by our passions, we live on the danger line, and eventually we will fall prey to sin. The wise person learns to respect the power of his or her emotions, and they depart from situations where they might lose control.

prayer: O Almighty God, save me from myself. When anger rises within my heart, help me to control it and channel it in constructive ways. Do not let me be a captive to my passions. Amen.
30 June

And More Rats Yet

Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul. Now that cellar is out of reach of my conscious will. I can to some extent control my acts: I have no direct control over my temperament. And if (as I said before) what we are matters even more than what we do—if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are—then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. And this applies to my good actions too. How many of them were done for the right motive? How many for fear of public opinion, or a desire to show off? How many from a sort of obstinacy or sense of superiority which, in different circumstances, might equally have led to some very bad act? But I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realise that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.
—from Mere Christianity

June 30

The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous (14:19).

During the Second World War a group of German soldiers moved through a small town, burning and looting as they went. They destroyed many buildings, including a part of an old church. Then they moved on. During the night, they met up with an enemy troop, and they retreated into the town. They ran to the door of the church which had been partially destroyed. They pounded on the door, begging for sanctuary. As the Allies marched ever closer, their begging turned to desperate cries. When the priest opened the gate, he found the soldiers lying face down in the dirt, sobbing.

This picture is a good example of the evil-doer before the judgment seat of God. Those who have traveled through life doing wrong deeds without a care will find themselves on the verge of destruction. They will have no recourse but to throw themselves on the mercy of God. The wicked will be laid low, and they will bow before goodness. They will cast themselves down before the gate of heaven, but for many it will be too late.

The time to choose right over wrong is now. There is no time to wait. God will number the good among Him, but the sinner will find himself outside of God's presence. He has given each of us the same choice. Whoever is not for Him is against Him. Where we will end up is completely up to us. How will we choose?

prayer: Lord, be with me. Do not cast me away from your presence, but keep me ever protected by your love. Amen.
1 July

Lead Them by the Nose

Screwtape sets out his proposition for managing moderns:
Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won't. It will never occur to them that Democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. ....
You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word Democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of all human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.
The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I'm as good as you.
—from "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" (The Screwtape Letters)

July 1955 Lewis is elected a member of the British Academy.

July 1

The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends (14:20).

I had a friend who got along wonderfully with me when we were alone, but when his other friends were with us, he treated me as if I were beneath him. He was wealthy, and so were many of his friends. They had their own language, and they judged people by what they owned, what they wore, and what they drove. One day, in frustration, I told my friend that either he could treat me the same way no matter who we were with, or he could forget having me as a friend. To my surprise, he chose to end the friendship.

It is amazing how we find ways to judge one another. We set standards for acceptability and draw lines defining what is good enough and what isn't. We categorize people, and force them into molds. This is wrong. We do our neighbor an injustice when we judge him. We are all children of God, and it is our purpose to see the face of Christ in all our brothers and sisters. When we treat another person as an inferior, it is as if we were doing it to Christ. Jesus taught us to love all people, regardless of their status. We are to accept everyone just as they are. When we learn to do that, we begin to love our neighbors as God loves us.

prayer: Make me love everyone equally, O Lord. Help me to accept everyone just as they are. Help me to see my brothers and sisters as you see them, through eyes of unconditional love. Amen.
2 July

I'm as Good as You Are

Screwtape reveals the devilish genius behind getting humans to assert, "I'm as good as you are":
The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid resounding lie. I don't mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist-measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says I'm as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.
And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food. 'Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I—it must be a vile, upstage, lah-di-dah affectation. Here's a fellow who says he doesn't like hot dogs—thinks himself too good for them no doubt. Here's a man who hasn't turned on the jukebox—he must be one of those highbrows and is doing it to show off. If they were the right sort of chaps they'd be like me. They've no business to be different. It's undemocratic.'
—from "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" (The Screwtape Letters)

July 1958 Lewis and Joy honeymoon in Ireland.

July 2

He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he (14:21).

The yard had become a junk heap. There were rusty automobile parts, mattresses, pots and pans, bottles, and old magazines, not to mention the general rubbish that had accumulated. The neighborhood was in an uproar. Maybe the police would shake them up. If something didn't happen soon, there were certain members of the neighborhood who were ready to take things into their own hands.

When the police came, they find an old couple who spoke very little English, and the husband suffered from many ailments. They wanted to keep their property nice, but they just weren't able to. When neighbors had complained they had tried to ask for help, but no one would pitch in. They felt totally helpless, and they were frightened by what might happen.

We can be so mean to each other without ever meaning to be. If more people would offer to help rather than threatening or bullying, our world would be a much more pleasant place. When we reach out to help others in need, we are displaying the love of Christ which is at home within our hearts. When we refuse to show kindness to our neighbors, we are showing that Christ has no part in us.

prayer: Almighty God, may my actions always prove my love and devotion for you. Help me to share the love you have given to me with those who need it most. Make me a loving disciple, following Christ's example, and learning to love my neighbor as myself. Amen.
3 July

The Undemocratic Incantation

Screwtape shows the degeneration of thought:
Now this useful phenomenon [of thinking "I'm as good as you are"] is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it—make it respectable and even laudable—by the incantatory use of the word democratic.
Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from it for fear of being undemocratic. I am credibly informed that young humans now sometimes suppress an incipient taste for classical music or good literature because it might prevent their Being like Folks; that people who would really wish to be—and are offered the Grace which would enable them to be—honest, chaste, or temperate, refuse it. To accept might make them Different, might offend again the Way of Life, take them out of Togetherness, impair their Integration with the Group. They might (horror of horrors!) become individuals.
All is summed up in the prayer which a young female human is said to have uttered recently: 'Oh God, make me a normal twentieth-century girl!' Thanks to our labours, this will mean increasingly, 'Make me a minx, a moron, and a parasite'.
—from "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" (The Screwtape Letters)

July 3

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury (14:23).

The politician promised so many wonderful things. His constituents wanted to put their faith in him. They kept hoping someone would come along who cared about their plight. Every time new promises were made, the hopes of the people soared. Each time, though, their hopes were dashed to the ground, as the great talk dissolved into just so much wind. This time they hoped it would be different. They had to hold onto something. Promises were the best they could find. If even half the talk resulted in action they wold be a great deal better off than they were now.

Talk without action can be destructive. If we make a promise we must be committed to following through. Jesus told the people of His day that they should not swear, because when they didn't do what they said, it was a sin. It is good for us to commit ourselves to helping other people, but when we make empty promises, we are being cruel and unloving. It is through action that we show how much we care, not through mere words. Actions speak louder than words, and actions done in love speak the truth of Christ in our lives. Let us always strive to follow the example of Christ, saving our words until we are ready to act.

prayer: You have given me so much, O Lord, let me now share it with those who need it. Let not my words be a trap for me, but let me act in a way pleasing to you. There is nothing that needs to be said, only love needs to be shown. Amen.
4 July

The Tyranny of Democracy

Screwtape reveals the ultimate goal:
What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence—moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how Democracy (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them 'tyrants' then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of corn, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no pre-eminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser, or better, or more famous, or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level; all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, 'democracy'. But now 'democracy' can do the same work without any other tyranny than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks.
—from "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" (The Screwtape Letters)

July 4

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies (14:25).

There is a grand lady who stands in the New York harbor. Her name is Liberty. She holds aloft a torch which has been a guiding beacon to a land of freedom and democracy. Her witness is to a very special kind of truth. It is a truth that many people from many different lands never have the opportunity to know. It says that every person has the right to a full and happy life. True, it is an ideal, and there are many people in America who don't realize their rights, but it is a dream that is readily available to everyone who wants it.

God's people have ever been in search of a Promised Land. As Christians, we know that our Promised Land awaits us in heaven. It is the responsibility of every believer to bring about God's kingdom on this earth. We should walk in the truth of God. If we will devote our lives to His truth, then we can become the Christian nation that our founding fathers envisioned. The promise of truth in our land has attracted many, many people. However, when we turn from the truth, then the promise offered is just a lie. God blesses those who dwell in His truth. When we wrap ourselves in God's truth, we shine brightly, a beacon for the world to see.

prayer: Thank you for the dream of truth and righteousness. Let me be a part of that dream. Help me to shine forth the light of your truth for others to see. Establish your kingdom within our hearts that we might know your truth here and now. Amen.
5 July

The Democratic Imperative

I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.
That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast. I believe that if we had not fallen, .... patriarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government. But since we have learned sin, we have found, as Lord Acton says, that "all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The only remedy has been to take away the powers and substitute a legal fiction of equality. The authority of father and husband has been rightly abolished on the legal plane, not because this authority is in itself bad (on the contrary, it is, I hold, divine in origin), but because fathers and husbands are bad. Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us. Even the authority of man over beast has had to be interfered with because it is constantly abused.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

July 5

In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death (14:26-27).

A young Russian was arrested for smuggling Bibles into area prisons. He stood before a tribunal for sentencing, and they shipped him off to a high security prison. Each day, he was taken to a warden who asked him if he was sorry for what he had done. His answer was always the same. Each time he said no, he was beaten, then returned to his cell. Years went by, and the daily routine continued. The Russian prison hoped to break the spirit of the young man, but instead, an interesting thing happened. The prison held thousands of prisoners, and over time, many of them were converted. Within the prison a great revival took place, all because the young man refused to renounce his faith in Christ.

The story is a familiar one. Christians have been persecuted over the centuries. When they withstood the torture and torment, they proved to be powerful witnesses to the truth of Christ. A good knowledge of God gives us confidence so strong that nothing can shake it. The truth of God is a fountain of life, and by dwelling within it, we depart from sin and all its ramifications. When we stand fast in the truth of God, He will give us everything we need to hold on.

prayer: Be with me, God, to guide me, to support me, to strengthen and love me. Never depart from me, Lord, that I might stand fast in the face of every trial and persecution. Allow me to be an example for others. Amen.
6 July

Medicine, Not Food

Equality is for me in that same position as clothes. It is a result of the Fall and the remedy for it. Any attempt to retrace the steps by which we have arrived at egalitarianism and to reintroduce the old authorities on the political level is for me as foolish as it would be to take off our clothes. The Nazi and the nudist make the same mistake. But it is the naked body, still there beneath the clothes of each one of us, which really lives. It is the hierarchical world, still alive and (very properly) hidden behind a façade of equal citizenship, which is our real concern.
Do not misunderstand me. I am not in the least belittling the value of this egalitarian fiction which is our only defense against one another's cruelty. I should view with the strongest disapproval any proposal to abolish manhood suffrage, or the Married Women's Property Act. But the function of equality is purely protective. It is medicine, not food. By treating human persons (in judicious defiance of the observed facts) as if they were all the same kind of thing, we avoid innumerable evils. But it is not on this that we were made to live.
—from "Membership" (The Weight of Glory)

July 6

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones (14:30).

A college woman was always comparing herself to other people. She watched the way other women dressed and acted, and she was intensely jealous of women she considered prettier or more intelligent than she was. Whenever she went out on a date, she spent time talking about how she wished she was like other women she saw. She was dissatisfied with herself, and she could talk of nothing else. Men quickly tired of her incessant complaining and comparing. Her envy caused her to become bitter, and she began venting her anger on her friends and classmates.

Envy is like a cancer. it starts small, but it spreads quickly, and it is extremely destructive. It causes us to be dissatisfied with ourselves the way God created us to be. It says that we think we deserve more than we really have. It is a form of selfishness which causes us to be less than we should be. when we conquer envy in our own lives, then we grow strong and sound, and we have God's favor. It is good for us to learn to be happy with ourselves and the things we have. It is better to thank the Lord for our many blessings than to curse Him for the things we feel cheated without.

prayer: There are many things I wish that I could have, Father, which others possess. Please help me to be content with the things I have now, and help me to rejoice that others have been blessed with special abundance. Let me begrudge nothing to other people. Amen.
7 July

New Perspective

Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse—so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct technical term for what it would be. And immortality makes this other difference, which, by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy. If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.
—from Mere Christianity

1952 Mere Christianity, a revised and amplified edition of Lewis's Broadcast Talks, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality, is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

July 7

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker; but he that honoreth him hath mercy on the poor (14:31).

A couple walked along a darkened street and came upon a young woman sitting with a baby in her arms. As they passed, the young woman held forth a hand and asked for some small gift to help her feed her baby. The couple recoiled from the girl's hand, and they hurried on their way. As they strolled along, they realized that they were not alone. Another person followed them. They quickened their pace, but the figure stayed right behind them. Finally, in frustration and fear, the man turned to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. The stranger replied, "You have had the chance to feed the Son of God and you have turned away. Therefore, if you would hope to come into God's glory do not be surprised if He turns from you." With that the stranger walked away, leaving the couple to stare in disbelief.

Christ said that when we help others who are in need, it is the same as doing it for Him. All of God's children were created in His image. When we reject any one of God's children it is as if we are rejecting Him. He wants us to give from our abundance to make life more comfortable for one another. When we see the world through the eyes of God, we have compassion on the poor and suffering, and it becomes our heart's desire to help them.

prayer: You have put me here with a purpose, O Lord, and it is to learn to serve you. I can best serve you by meeting the needs of those I see in need around me. Grant that I might never turn away from someone in need. Amen.
8 July

Coming in Out of the Wind

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, 'Be perfect,' He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
—from Mere Christianity

July 8

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (15:1).

The man had always lived by the adage, "Fight fire with fire." He was truly a fighter. No one ever got the best of him. He'd seen his share of scuffles, but he did alright. His brother had always been a namby-pamby kind heart, who thought peace should be kept at any cost. He hated how his brother would swallow his pride in order to keep the peace. He knew that he would never do that. That was the coward's way out. It was much better to let everybody know you weren't going to be pushed around. Let people know who's boss, and they won't give you any trouble.

One of the big problems in the world today is that everyone wants to show the rest of the world who the boss is. No one wants to back off or work for peace. Each party wants to prove to the other that they are the most right. As long as we refuse to negotiate or compromise, we will have fighting. The desire of God is that we will learn to use kindness and love in order to solve our problems. A wisely spoken word could save much unpleasantness if only we will take the time to think before we act. Nothing good comes from stirring up the anger of our opponents, but there is much to be gained through kindness and common sense.

prayer: Soften my heart and the words of my mouth, dear God. Let me be a peacemaker, rather than an agitator. Let my words spread comfort and calm, and make my actions a testimony to your great love. Amen.
9 July

The Full Treatment

I find a good many people have been bothered by .... Our Lord's words, 'Be ye perfect'. Some people seem to think this means 'Unless you are perfect, I will not help you'; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant 'The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.'
Let me explain. When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother - at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie, if you gave them an inch they took an ell.
Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.
—from Mere Christianity

July 9

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (15:3).

The corporate offices of a large company had a wonderful record for security. In its twenty-five year history, there had never been a break-in. There had been attempts, but the intruders were always apprehended before they could make a move. The secret to the fine security record was a high-technology video center which allowed a watchman to keep tabs on all key entry points to the building. By sitting in a chair surrounded by monitors, the watchman could see the entire plant. Nothing could happen without the guard being immediately notified.

God is like that watchman. There is nothing which occurs that God is not immediately aware of. No matter how insignificant an act may seem, it does not escape the notice of the Lord. His eye watches everyone: the good, the evil, the young, the old, male, female, black, white, red, yellow, every person who lives upon this earth is in God's loving sight. It is comforting to know that He sees us in the good times and the bad, and that He knows exactly what is going on. He can share in the innermost thoughts we have, and he knows our desires before we even express them. God knows us, and He loves us, totally.

prayer: Keep your eye upon me, Lord. Watch my comings and goings, and be with me in everything I do. Bless my actions, and keep me protected by your loving care. Help me to do the things which are most pleasing in your sight. Amen.
10 July

I Will Make You Perfect

He warned people to 'count the cost' before becoming Christians. 'Make no mistake,' He says, 'if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is will pleased with you, as he said he was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. but I will not do anything less.'
And yet—this is the other and equally important side of it—this Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty. As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby's first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, 'God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.'
—from Mere Christianity

July 10

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight (15:8).

There was a man who came out to church only on Easter. He felt that it "looked good" to put in an occasional appearance. He wanted people to think well of him, and to know that he supported his church. Each year he made a big gift to the church, making sure that many key people were aware of the large amount. He bragged of his support, and how much it meant to the church. Whenever he was asked to serve the church in any way, however, he couldn't find the time. Only when it was advantageous for him to be associated with the church would he consider it. His connection with the church was purely public relations.

Scripture says that God loves the cheerful giver, but He wants the giver to be sincere also. Financial contributions are always important, but they are not nearly as important as the gift of self which each person should give. We are to give ourselves body, mind, and spirit to the work of Christ's church. Anything less is not good enough. The gift given for the wrong reasons is an abomination to the Lord. The gift of the upright, rightly given, is a true joy to the Lord, and it is His delight.

prayer: O Lord, take my life and consecrate it to your service. Take not only my gifts, but also my talents and resources as instruments for your ministry. Guide me in the ways that I can best serve you, and grant me the wisdom to know where you want me to go. Amen.
11 July

All or Nothing

On the one hand, God's demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall, He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realise from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. And it is very important to realise that. If we do not, then we are very likely to start pulling back and resisting Him after a certain point.
—from Mere Christianity

July 11

Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men (15:11).

A light plane crashed in the desert. The pilot survived the crash and began a long, hot trek toward civilization. he wandered for hours without seeing anything remotely man made. As day turned to night he began to think he had survived the crash just to die a slow, painful death. With morning light, he set out once more in search of rescue. When his last ounce of strength gave out, he sat down and began to cry. His sobs grew in intensity, and they merged with another sound. Controlling his emotions, he looked up to see a jeep approaching in the distance. He bowed his head to say a quick thank you, then waved to the driver of the vehicle.

There are times when we feel that we must surely be out of God's sight, or at least out of His favor. It is comforting to know that God sees everything that goes on no matter where it is. God can see into the very depths of hell, so it is no great wonder that He can see into our hearts to know what we are feeling and thinking. Our lives are open to our creator, and at the time when we think we have no hope, the grace of the Lord will reach down to us and let us know that we are saved. God will never leave us, no matter how far we may go.

prayer: Be with me, Father, as I walk along the many paths which make up my life. When I lose my way, and turn from the one true path, wait patiently for me to return, and keep me ever in your watchful eye. Amen.
12 July

Faux Humility

I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were a obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone. As we say 'I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.' And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble.
But this is the fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like? You see, He has already made us something very different from what we were. Long ago, before we were born, when we were inside our mothers' bodies, we passed through various stages. We were once rather like vegetables, and once rather like fish: it was only at a later stage that we became like human babies. And if we had been conscious at those earlier stages, I daresay we should have been quite contented to stay as vegetables or fish—should not have wanted to be made into babies. But all the time He knew His plan for us and was determined to carry it out. Something the same is now happening at a higher level. We may be content to remain what we call 'ordinary people': but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience.
—from Mere Christianity

July 12

A scorner loveth not the one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise (15:12).

There was a woman who was terribly overweight and in falling health. She knew that the best prescription for her was to diet, but she really didn't want to. Her daughter urged her to see a doctor, and she kept promising that she would. Each time she made an appointment, something came up and she canceled it. When confronted by her daughter, she said, "I don't need to go to the doctor to have him tell me I'm fat. I already know that he'll tell me I need to lose weight." The poor woman died due to a kidney malfunction which was totally unrelated to her weight problem. Her fear of chastisement of the doctor had kept her from getting the help she needed.

When we are afraid to be criticized or advised, we seriously restrict our ability to receive help. Often the words of a critic may be the words that save us from ourselves. When someone's only intention is to help us, it is wise for us to seek their counsel and then heed it. When we run and stick our heads in the sand we stop growing and developing. If we feel guilty or inferior, we might try to avoid those people who would give us advice, but it is always better to deal with problems head on, than to let them balloon out of control.

prayer: I am often afraid to hear what others think of me, Lord. I am insecure, and I often wish that I could run and hide. Give me the strength and courage I need to grow and change for the better. Amen.
13 July

Simply a Phase

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
And then one or other dies. And we think of this as love cut short; like a dance stopped in mid-career or a flower with its head unluckily snapped off—something truncated and therefore, lacking its due shape. I wonder. If, as I can't help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. It follows marriage as normally as marriage follows courtship or as autumn follows summer. It is not a truncation of the process but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure. We are 'taken out of ourselves' by the loved one while she is here. Then comes the tragic figure of the dance in which we must learn to be still taken out of ourselves though the bodily presence is withdrawn, to love the very Her, and not fall back to loving our past, or our memory, or our sorrow, or our relief from sorrow, or our own love.
—from A Grief Observed

1942 Broadcast Talks, which includes Lewis's BBC talks "Right and Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe" and "What Christians Believe" is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

1960 Joy Davidman Lewis dies at the age of forty-five.

July 13

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken (15:13).

"You never get mad. You always seem to be happy and having a good time. I don't understand it. I wish I could be like you." The two walked along the beach, together. "It's really not that hard. You just have to decide that you're going to be happy, then do it. I got tired of being unhappy about everything, so I decided to quit," the other answered.

"It can't be that easy. There has to be more to it."

"It wasn't that easy for me. I just thought about which I liked better; being happy or being sad. I don't like being sad, so I fight it."

We can decide to be happy. It takes work, but it is a conscious effort that anyone can make. God is the giver of the greatest joy a person can ever know. When we make Him the Lord of our life, He can work within us to fill us with this unspeakable joy. All we need to do is ask Him in. When we are filled with sorrow, we break the spirit and we undercut the effectiveness of Christ in our lives. The Lord dwells in joy, and He is well at home in a heart that is happy. When we are truly filled with joy, the whole world can see it. They will notice that we are not like everyone else, and there is no more powerful testimony to the power of God than a smile which cannot be taken away.

prayer: Fill my heart with your joy, O Lord. Change the light of my countenance to happiness so that everyone will know the effect you have had on my life. Wherever I go, help me to spread joy and love. I praise you for your gracious gift. Amen.
14 July

Cigars in Heaven

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace. On any view whatever, to say, 'H. is dead,' is to say, 'All that is gone.' It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where 'the former things have passed away.'
Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.
Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions 'on the further shore,' pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There's not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn't be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the spiritualists bait their hook! 'Things on this side are not so different after all.' There are cigars in Heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.
And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.
—from A Grief Observed

July 14

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast (15:15).

"Stop that singing. You drive me crazy, sometimes," the old woman shouted across that hall.

The other woman stopped singing, looked up, and smiled. "Why, I'm just singing because I'm happy. What's wrong with that?"

"I'm not happy, and you shouldn't be either. We're old, sick, nobody comes to visit us, and we live in a dingy little hole in the wall."

"Well, why should I dwell on all that? I've got a sound mind, the sun is shining brightly, and I am not in want of anything I need. I think I'm pretty lucky, don't you?"

"I just think you're nuts!"

When Christ reigns in our hearts, we can see the beauty and goodness of our lives, but when He is absent, then every day is an affliction. The person who is unhappy is doubly resentful of the person who knows true joy. The joy-filled person is a reminder that happiness does not belong to everyone. How sad that every person doesn't come to know the joy that God offers so freely. We can work to spread happiness if we will. Through our actions and attitudes we can convey a lot of what God has done in our lives. People notice the difference, and when we give credit to God, we spread His gospel in a very powerful way.

prayer: Lord, make me a beacon of joy to shine forth to everyone I see. Let them see the difference in my life that comes solely from you. Amen.
15 July

Tenderly, Tenderly

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
What does it matter how this grief of mine evolves or what I do with it? What does it matter how I remember her or whether I remember her at all? None of these alternatives will either ease or aggravate her past anguish.
Her past anguish. How do I know that all her anguish is past? I never believed before—I thought it immensely improbable—that the faithfulest soul could leap straight into perfection and peace the moment death has rattled in the throat. It would be wishful thinking with a vengeance to take up that belief now. H. was a splendid thing; a soul straight, bright, and tempered like a sword. But not a perfected saint. A sinful woman married to a sinful man; two of God's patients, not yet cured. I know there are not only tears to be dried but stains to be scoured. The sword will be made even brighter.
But oh God, tenderly, tenderly.
—from A Grief Observed

1963 Lewis suffers a heart attack during a medical procedure and is admitted to the Acland Nursing Home.

July 15

Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith (15:16).

She had always dreamed of what it would be like to be rich. She had never really been poor, but the idea of having a lot of money had always been exciting. Now it was reality. Her father had died, and all of his wealth was hers. She didn't understand half of what the lawyers had said about taxes and trusts, but she knew she was rich. Already people were calling her and sending her literature about boats and cars and homes. People she hadn't seen in years were showing up from everywhere. She was a little afraid of strangers who came around. Her friend told her that people would be more likely to break into her home to steal from her now. She wondered if she would ever get out from under all the red tape so that she could start living it up.

The minute we begin turning our attention to wealth and possessions, we turn it from the Lord. The less we own, the less we are distracted. The poor person can deal with God continually, but the rich person has to attend to other things. God wants to be the sole possessor of our hearts. He will not share our hearts with any other god. We all must make the choice of what we will pursue. The wise person chooses to pursue the Lord.

prayer: Almighty God, there are so many things which pull at my attention. I am blinded by the glitter of wealth and glamour. Shade my eyes in the shadow of your divine Spirit. Guard me from the traps of the world. Amen.
16 July

A Sword in God's Hand

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it. Praise in due order; of Him as the giver, of her as the gift. Don't we in praise somehow enjoy what we praise, however far we are from it? I must do more of this. I have lost the fruition I once had of H. And I am far, far away in the valley of my unlikeness, from the fruition which, if His mercies are infinite, I may some time have of God. But by praising I can still, in some degree, enjoy her, and already, in some degree, enjoy Him. Better than nothing.
But perhaps I lack the gift. I see I've described H. as being like a sword. That's true as far as it goes. But utterly inadequate by itself, and misleading. I ought to have balanced it. I ought to have said, 'But also like a garden. Like a nest of gardens, wall within wall, hedge within hedge, more secret, more full of fragrant and fertile life, the further you entered.'
And then, of her, and of every created thing I praise, I should say 'In some way, in its unique way, like Him who made it.'
Thus up from the garden to the Gardener, from the sword to the Smith. To the life-giving Life and the Beauty that makes beautiful.
'She is in God's hands.' That gains a new energy when I think of her as a sword. Perhaps the earthly life I shared with her was only part of the tempering. Now perhaps He grasps the hilt; weights the new weapon; makes lightnings with it in the air. 'A right Jerusalem blade.'
—from A Grief Observed

1923 Lewis takes First in English Language and Literature.

July 16

A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife (15:18).

The first pitch had been an accident. It had slipped from the pitcher's grip and had sailed at the head of the batter. Angry stares were exchanged, but nothing more. The very next inning, the opposing pitcher threw at the batter. The batter tossed aside his bat and he charged the pitcher. Both benches emptied and a brawl broke out. Players and coaches were ejected from the game, and tempers were allowed to cool before the umpires allowed play to resume.

It's a common occurrence, and a sad one. Grown men trying to start fights is silly, and it destroys the integrity of the sport. But once a person's pride is damaged, they will stop at nothing to get revenge. Spiteful people live to stir up strife. It is the prudent person, one who holds his or her anger, and stifles his or her pride, who brings forth peace. If we could learn to care less about ourselves and more about others, there would be fewer occasions when we would cause discord. It is the person who loves God who also loves peace. The peacemakers are the true disciples of Christ. To the person who refuses to stir up strife, there will come a great reward.

prayer: You have blessed the peacemakers, Almighty God. Please number me among them. Wherever I can be used, let me be an agent of your love and peace. Send me where you would have me to go, O Lord. Amen.
17 July

Two Sides of the Truth

Here is another way of putting the two sides of the truth. On the one hand we must never imagine that our own unaided efforts can be relied on to carry us even through the next twenty-four hours as 'decent' people. If he does not support us, not one of us is safe from some gross sin. On the other hand, no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded of the greatest saints is beyond what He is determined to produce in every one of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life; but He means to get us as far as possible before death.
That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.
—from Mere Christianity

July 17

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain (15:19).

It was maddening to try to get the children to do their work. Whenever there was a game or an activity they were ready, willing, and able. But at those times when the chores needed to be done, they were nowhere to be found. They were getting lazy, and it was annoying. It was also troubling to have to punish and threaten in order to get them motivated. They should want to pitch in. They lived in the same house, and everyone had to pull their weight or it just wasn't fair.

The same is true in the body of Christ. In the body there are many parts, and each one must do what it was created for or the body cannot function as well. It is important that we always give our best effort. Anything less is an insult to our creator. We shine a negative light onto God when we are lazy or slothful. Christians should be proud to do their best in all things, as a sign to others that being a Christian is something special and good. Our actions are generally what we are most often judged by. If our actions are positive, then our testimony to God is a positive one, but if our actions are unbecoming, then we shame God, and we give people a bad impression of what it means to be Christian.

prayer: During the times when I get lazy, help me remember that my actions reflect not only upon myself, but also upon you, O Lord, and upon all others who call themselves Christian. Help me to always put forth the best image possible. Amen.
18 July


I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were 'gods' and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.
—from Mere Christianity

July 18

Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established (15:22).

Always before, the department had worked as a team, working out strategies together, and delegating responsibilities to different members of the group. Now, a new chairperson had come in, and she wanted things done her way. She had no desire to hear about how things had been done before. She had been hired to direct operations, and she was going to do it the way she saw fit. Unfortunately, she didn't know the department, and her ways weren't always the best. Effectiveness dropped sharply, and finally the department was disbanded.

When a person thinks they have all the answers, and they refuse to listen to the comments of others, there will usually be trouble. We cannot come into a new situation and know all the things we need to. It is the wise person who seeks counsel from the group who is established there. Without counsel, plans go awry. But when counselors are sought and the opinions are incorporated, then plans can run smoothly and effectively. The best counsel we can hope to seek is the Lord's. He will guide us if we will ask Him to. when we shut the Lord out of our decisions, then we are destined for failure.

prayer: Be my guide, dear Lord, and open my mind to new ideas, and my heart to your prompting. Do not let me act unadvisedly, but always lead me to seek the help of those more competent than myself. Amen.
19 July

The Real Self

There must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away 'blindly' so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also ours, and ours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
—from Mere Christianity

July 19

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season how good is it (15:23).

The algebra problem was a tough one. No one had given the right answer yet, and the teacher had gone through half the class. Andrea hoped that the teacher wouldn't get to her. She wasn't sure her answer was even close. Smarter people than she had missed it. The most she could hope for was that someone else would get the answer before the teacher got to her. Her heart sunk and she felt her cheeks flush as the teacher called her name. Timidly, she ofered her answer. To her delight, the teacher praised her for getting the right answer. Andrea felt a surge of pride at her accomplishment.

It is a joy when we know we have done a job and that we have done it well. When we say or do the right thing, it makes us feel good. that is why God wants us to always do what is right. When we live a life of righteousness, then that good feeling never leaves us. We experience not only the joy of a job well done, but we provide a good example for other people to see. God is proud of us when we do what is right and good. We can feel great peace knowing that we are doing what God hopes we will do. His favor is worth more than all the riches of the earth.

prayer: I pray that my words may always be full of grace and pleasing to you. When I proclaim your greatness and spread your word, I do what is pleasing in your sight. Help me that I might forever do what you want me to. Amen.
20 July

Defining Our Terms

The name Christians was first given at Antioch (Acts 11:26) to 'the disciples', to those who acquired the teaching of the apostles. There is no question of its being restricted to those who profited by that teaching as much as they should have. There is no question of its being extended to those who in some refined, spiritual, inward fashion were 'far closer to the spirit of Christ' than the less satisfactory of the disciples. The point is not a theological or moral one. It is only a question of using words so that we can all understand what is being said. When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian.
—from Mere Christianity

July 20

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things (15:28).

She knew her brother had put so much of himself into his writing. She wanted to be kind, but she didn't know exactly how to tell him it wasn't very good. She wanted to break it to him gently, to save his feelings if it was possible. She loved him dearly, and didn't want anything to come between them. Still, he had asked her opinion, and she had to be honest with him. While she was waiting for her brother to return, her own daughter entered the room and seeing what her mother read, said, "Isn't that trash awful?"

"Honey, be careful what you say. Your uncle might come back any minute."

"So? He's a terrible writer, and the sooner he knows it, the better."

"But there are ways to say it without hurting him. Just saying he stinks won't do anybody any good. You have a lot to learn about kindness, young lady."

A kind person will think before speaking. The power of a word to destroy is unbelievable. An unkind word carelessly spoken can build walls that can never be torn down again. It is much better to think of how we should respond than to blindly and tactlessly spout our opinions. Honesty is not a virtue unless it is spoken with compassion and love.

prayer: Salt my words with your loving kindness, dear Father. Help me to know the right words to say in difficult situations. Let me convey only love and caring, no matter what I might have to say. Amen.
21 July

Reflection of the Divine Life

Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about 'His glory's diminution'? A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God—though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to 'put on Christ', to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.
—from The Problem of Pain

1940 Lewis conceives the idea for The Screwtape Letters.

July 21

The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat (15:30).

Their grandfather had looked so bad, so frail, the last time they had seen him. They remembered their grandpa as a happy man who had loved to spend his time with his family. He gave so much of himself and they loved him. He had always been so much fun to be with. It was terribly painful to see him lying in a hospital bed so pathetically. If he had to die, it would be better for him to go quickly. The thought of seeing him waste away was too painful to deal with.

When they arrived at the hospital, they went right to his room. When they opened the door, he was sitting up in bed. He turned to look at them, and joy came into his face. A sparkle gleamed in his eye, and his granddaughter realized that that gleam was what had been missing before. Just seeing that sparkle gave her a feeling of peace. Seeing him this way she knew he would be alright.

There is something about truly good people which shines forth from within. When we are in the presence of goodness, we feel it. Something deep inside of us responds to that spirit which emanates outward, and we feel wonderful. That something special is God's love, and it cannot be contained once it fills a human heart.

prayer: May the joy and peace of my relationship with you show from my face and shine forth from my body. I want everyone to know that I am yours, and that you make all the difference in the world. Amen.
22 July

Judging by Results

If Christianity is true why are not all Christians obviously nicer than all non-Christians? What lies behind that question is partly something very reasonable and partly something that is not reasonable at all. The reasonable part is this. If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man's outward actions—if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before—then I think we must suspect that his 'conversion' was largely imaginary; and after one's original conversion, every time one thinks one has made an advance, that is the test to apply. Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in 'religion' mean nothing unless they make our actual behaviour better; just as in an illness 'feeling better' is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up. In that sense the outer world is quite right to judge Christianity by its results. Christ told us to judge by results. A tree is known by its fruit; or, as we say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. The war-time posters told us that Careless Talk costs Lives. It is equally true that Careless Lives cost Talk. Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we give them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself.
—from Mere Christianity

July 22

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding (15:31-32).

A young dancer wanted to be the best she could be. She auditioned for a number of dance companies, many of whom were interested in her. She chose to go with the one who told her they saw great potential, but she needed to work hard to become better. She worked diligently with the instructors, and she gained knowledge from their expertise. She listened carefully to everything they had to say, and she tried to do everything they told her. Her desire to be a great dancer guided her actions, and she did everything in her power to attain that dream.

If the young woman had allowed her ego to get in her way, she would not have been willing to listen to the people who were best able to help her. If she had been satisfied with where she was, she could have settled for less than was her potential. But when we place quality above all else, then we are able to humble ourselves and listen to the teachings of those who can help us. When we commit our lives to Christ, then we free ourselves to follow the commandments of God, knowing in our hearts that His commandments will lead us to our heart's desire; eternal union with Him in heaven. It is possible to all who will place self aside and open their lives to God.

prayer: Lord, I am a selfish person, and I rebel against those who would help me to improve. Break this rebellious spirit within me and lead me in the ways which lead to improvement. Amen.
23 July

Out of Action

Screwtape's advice on wresting the Patient from Enemy hands:
It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilising the seeds which the Enemy plants in a human soul. Let him do nothing but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.
—from The Screwtape Letters

July 23

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility (15:33).

There was an actor who was fond of telling everyone how wonderful he was. His house was a museum of memorabilia from his career. His rave reviews were framed and hung in every room. Awards graced shelves and tables, and copies of his movies were played on video tape machines on large screens whenever visitors came by. He took such delight in rattling off his achievements that no one else ever felt compelled to praise him.

Too often people seek after honors, when they should be striving after humility. Honors are not something that we deserve. They are gifts, and should be given by others, not by ourselves. Conceit is a sin, and when we praise our own efforts we slip into it. God is most pleased when we commit ourselves to doing what is right. Even if no honors come to us in this life, God will honor us richly in the life to come. It is the humble man or woman who is able to keep their sight set on God and doing His will. If we will use our time doing the things that God has asked of us, we will not have time to brag about our accomplishments. God has given us plenty to keep us busy all the days of our lives. If we stay committed to doing what is pleasing in His sight, He will bless us all of our days.

prayer: Keep me humble, Lord. Help me to remember that I am nothing without you. You have given me everything I have and everything I am. You have blessed me with so many wonderful things, and I praise you. Amen.
24 July

A Warning or an Encouragement?

There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person—if virtue comes easily to you—beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.
But if you are a poor creature—poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels—saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion—nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends—do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all—not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last).
—from Mere Christianity

July 24

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established (16:1-3).

We have an excuse for everything. When something goes wrong, we can always explain it away. When we forget to do something, we can usually come up with a good reason. if we are lazy or irresponsible we somehow rationalize it. Most of the time, we can satisfy ourselves and others that our actions are pure. This practice will work in almost every case, except in the case of God.

God has given us commandments and rules as guidelines for living a Christian life. He has given us standards by which we can be measured. He has allowed us every possible help, and so when we come before Him, He expects us to deal openly and honestly with Him. If we try to make excuses or convince Him of things that aren't completely true, He will know it, and He will reject our reasons. God sees us as we really are. He knows not only our words, but the intentions of our words. He sees not only the things we do, but He knows why we do them. Unless we commit our lives to God, we will try to live as we want to, not as He wants us to. We will be called to account for our lives, and it is only those who have truly sought to follow God's will who will see heaven.

prayer: Lord, you see into my very soul. Please help me to be honest with you, with others, and with myself. Cleanse my spirit, so that I might turn from those things which are an abomination in your sight. Make me the person you want me to be. Amen.
25 July

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

Well, how exactly do I love myself?
Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently 'Love your neighbour' does not mean 'feel fond of him' or 'find him attractive'. I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments) but that is not why I love myself. In fact it is the other way round: my self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clear-sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do.
—from Mere Christianity

1929 Lewis's father, Albert, is diagnosed with cancer.

July 25

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (16:4).

She had to be the most forgiving woman in the world. Three young hoodlums had broken into her house, had tied her up, stolen all her valuables and she didn't even have a harsh word to say about them. She said, "I'm fine, and that's all that really matters. Those boys are God's children just like everyone else. They have just gone bad. God will take care of them, so I don't have to worry about it one bit."

It is difficult to let go of bad feelings that we hold against other people. When we have been wronged, we want justice done, we want to see the persecutors be punished. Often, we forget that they are children of God, and that we must love even those who do not love us. Jesus said that if we love only those who are good and kind, that we do not know the real meaning of love. It is when we can learn to love those who hate us and try to harm us that we understand what love is all about. If God loved only those who were worthy of His love, then he would never love anyone. Love isn't something earned. It is something freely given, and God expects us to love everyone at least as much as we love ourselves. God created everything on this earth and it is our duty to respect and honor His whole creation.

prayer: Most holy God, it is not easy to love those people who seem evil and try to hurt me. I get angry when people try to take advantage of me. Help me to love with your love, and to see life through your eyes. Amen.
26 July

Love the Sinner...

Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.
For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again.
—from Mere Christianity

July 26

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil (16:6).

She felt so much better. She hadn't meant to hurt anyone and she'd carried the guilt around with her long enough. The minute she heard about the fire, she remembered having left the coffee pot plugged in. Two people were injured and she had been frightened to speak up. Then her supervisor had been blamed and she felt so guilty. She tried to ignore it, but it kept nagging at her. She finally had to say something, not only to clear her supervisor, but also to clear her conscience.

Confession is good for the soul. We cannot hope to improve our lives when we walk around burdened by guilt and shame. When we admit our wrongdoing, we are able to begin anew with a clean slate. We can be so thankful that God forgives us the things we do wrong. Without that forgiveness, there would be no way for us to be united with Him. When we receive God's blessed forgiveness, it is as though we never sinned at all. God forgives and forgets, and once God has wiped our sin away, it is gone for good. Only when we are wise enough to admit our sin can we hope to be cleansed of it. God will not force us to come to Him. Only when we seek Him out and confess our sins to Him will he forgive us and make us new.

prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for the many things that I have done wrong. Help me to begin anew, starting fresh, and committed to doing what is right and good. Lead me in the paths of righteousness, Lord. Amen.
27 July

The Real Test

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that someone turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite as bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
—from Mere Christianity

July 27

Better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues without right (16:8).

It hasn't always been like this. When he had first started in business, he could sleep like a baby. He didn't have a care in the world. Now, it was different. He tossed and turned every night because of the guilt he felt. He was short-tempered and angry all the time. He felt like a heel every time he foreclosed a mortgage. He had worked so long to get where he was, but there was no satisfaction to it, only turmoil. All the money and prestige in the world wouldn't make up for what he was feeling inside. He decided that the only way to deal with it was to quit his job. It was the best decision he ever made.

Sometimes we feel like money will make everything alright. We think that it can cure all our ills and make us whole. There are some things that money cannot do. It cannot give us peace of mind, and it cannot replace human relationships. We need other people, and we must love them more than money. When we serve money instead of people, we lose our sense of all that is right and good. It is much better to have little money and great happiness, than to have mountains of money and no peace of mind.

prayer: Lord, I have what I need. Please make me content with that so that I don't go running off, pursuing things I do not need. Make me content with my life as it is, keeping me from dreaming of things that are really unimportant. Amen.
28 July

Love Your Enemy

I imagine somebody will say, 'Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy's acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?' All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one's own back, must be simply killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it any more. That is not how things happen. I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible. Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves—to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.
—from Mere Christianity

July 28

A just weight and balance are the Lord's: all the weights of the bag are his work (16:11).

The woman was enraged. She had worked at her job for about five months, and she found out that the man who had been hired a month after her had just received a promotion and a raise. She had done as much work as he had, and she had done it at least as well. It wasn't fair. Men got all the breaks, while women were treated like slaves. She went to her boss and laid out her complaint. He gave her an excuse which she didn't believe and she turned in her resignation.

There is much in our world that is not fair. However we must be willing to pay the price for making our points. Many people will complain about injustice, but they won't risk anything to see changes made. They are unwilling to sacrifice anything in order to take a stand.

We are agents of God's will on earth. God loves justice, and He loves to see His children stand up for what is right. The Lord rejoices whenever one of His believers takes a stand for what they think is right. When we disagree with something, we need to voice our objection. When we see injustice, we need to speak out. Nothing comes of merely complaining in the comfort of our own homes. If we will risk a little bit to take a stand for justice, then God will bless our efforts and He will provide everything we need to persevere.

prayer: Help me to be a part of your righteousness, O Lord. Help me to see what is wrong and what is right, and let me speak out when things are not as they should be. Grant me the power to work for change. Amen.
29 July

The Thing Called Selves

I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them. But then, has oneself anything lovable about it? You love it simply because it is yourself. God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but He has given us the sum ready worked out in our own case to show us how it works. We have then to go on and apply the rule to all the other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us. Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves. For really there is nothing else in us to love: creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco...
—from Mere Christianity

July 29

In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain (16:15).

The planting was all done. The soil had been prepared, the seed had been laid, the fertilizer spread. Now all that was left to do was wait. If the rains came soon, everything would be alright, but if they held off just a week or two, it could greatly hurt the crop. The early spring rain was vital. A soft, steady rain could mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. The sky was full of deep gray clouds, rolling overhead. With the sound of distant thunder, the farmers breathed a deep sign of relief.

It is hard to accept that our ultimate fate is in the hands of another. Even as great as God is, it is frightening to know that He holds our destiny in his hands. But just as the farmers feel relief at the first sign of rain, we can feel relieved that our fate has already been sealed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice we have been bonded to God. When we accept Christ into our lives, we accept the promise of eternal bliss with our Father in heaven. There can be no greater joy than knowing that God's love has saved us, and that our future has been decided by His grace.

prayer: I look to you for my salvation, Lord, and I feel joy at the assurance of your great love for me. I have done nothing which is deserving of your favor, but I praise you from the very depths of my soul that you have looked upon me with compassion. Be with me now, and each day to come. Amen.
30 July

This Terrible Duty

[One of the most unpopular of the Christian virtues] is laid down in the Christian rule, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Because in Christian morals 'thy neighbour' includes 'thy enemy', and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies.
Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then, to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger. It is not that people think this too high and difficult a virtue: it is that they think it hateful and contemptible. 'That sort of talk makes them sick,' they say. And half of you already want to ask me, 'I wonder how you'd feel about forgiving the Gestapo if you were a Pole or a Jew?'
So do I. I wonder very much. Just as when Christianity tells me that I must not deny my religion even to save myself from death by torture, I wonder very much what I should do when it came to the point. I am not trying to tell you in this book what I could do—I can do precious little—I am telling you what Christianity is. I did not invent it. And there, right in the middle of it, I find 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.' There is no slightest suggestion that we are offered forgiveness on any other terms.
—from Mere Christianity

July 30

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver (16:16).

For years, the American government sent food down to the people in Central America. They would set an allotment, then ship it to distribution centers. This provided the people with food for a short period of time, but once it ran out, there was no more, and the people were little better off than before the food arrived. Then, in the sixties, army engineers were sent to teach farming and irrigation methods. The know-how was shared by which Central American citizens could raise their own food. No more would they depend on the limited supplies sent to them from outside. Now they were able to produce for themselves, and no one need go hungry again.

It is better to give people the knowledge they need to do for themselves, than it is to give people things which are here for a short time and then gone. Money, equipment, resources, all fade away over time, but knowledge lasts forever. God could do everything we ask Him to, but then we would not be motivated to grow and mature. It is through doing for ourselves that we learn responsibility and what abilities we have. Caring for ourselves is more precious than gold or silver, and it makes us even more thankful to God in heaven for the blessings He bestows on us.

prayer: Teach me to use the gifts and talents you have given me. Help me to do for myself and others rather than wait for things to be done for me. Give me the wisdom to know what to do and when. Amen.
31 July

Start Small

It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven. There are no two ways about it. What are we to do?
It is going to be hard enough, anyway, but I think there are two things we can do to make it easier. When you start mathematics you do not begin with the calculus; you begin with simple addition. In the same way, if we really want (but all depends on really wanting) to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo. One might start with forgiving one's husband or wife, or parents or children, or the nearest N.C.O., for something they have done or said in the last week. That will probably keep us busy for the moment. And secondly, we might try to understand exactly what loving your neighbour as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself.
—from Mere Christianity

July 31

He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he (16:20).

A teacher was highly respected for her ability to handle tough situations. Children never seemed to give her a hard time, and if they got out of line, she handled the matter quickly and decisively. Most of the children loved her, and their parents thought she was great. Her classes received good marks, and her pupils displayed much promise. The woman knew how to draw out the best from every student she taught. When asked about her ability to deal with children, she replied "I pray for each one of them. I may not always know the best way to handle a situation, but God does, and the two of us working together can't miss. I know that He will lead me to do what is best for the kids. I know that with all my heart."

It is wonderful to be able to put all our trust in God. If we will let Him in on all the concerns of our lives, He will share in them and guide us through them. There is great power in prayer. When we pray to God we make our concerns His concerns. We may be able to handle situations well, but we can handle much better if we will ask God's help when we face them. True happiness comes to us when we can be confident that our decisions are sound, and that conviction can be ours if we will only turn to the Lord.

prayer: I want to put all of my trust in you, Father. Your wisdom is beyond my comprehension, and I know that you will always do what is best. Be with me when I make decisions and guide my actions. Amen.
1 August

Grieving, and Thinking About Grieving

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
Are these jottings morbid? I once read the sentence 'I lay awake all night with toothache, thinking about toothache and about lying awake.' That's true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.
—from A Grief Observed

August 1960 Following Joy's death in July 1960, Lewis writes A Grief Observed

August 1

The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning (16:21).

There was a small boy who always looked out for the feelings of others. Whenever the children would begin to tease or taunt another child, the small boy would defend the victim and offer comforting words. If a child fell or was hurt, the small boy ran to help. Whenever one of the children was in need of cheering up, the boy was right there with a kind word. All the adults said that he had the soul of an older man, and they claimed he was wise beyond his years.

Kindness is such a small thing, and yet too few people practice it. When a person is kind it causes others to sit up and take notice. The person who is kind and loving provides an example of what Christ wants for all of us. We enjoy being with kind people. They make us feel good and they cheer us up. They are special people indeed, and it is well for us to join their ranks. God loves to see His children offer kindness to each other. Kindness is contagious, and we should always strive to cause an epidemic of loving and giving. Christians should be the first to be kind, to show the power of God in their lives to make a difference. Wisdom of the heart is the love of God, and it is the greatest gift we can hope to share with others.

prayer: I want to sow the seeds of your love wherever I go, dear Father. Make me an agent of kindness and consideration. Help me to lift the spirits of other people and to make sure that they know joy all their lives. Amen.
2 August

A Jab of Red-Hot Memory

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.
There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don't really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man's life. I was happy before I ever met H. I've plenty of what are called 'resources.' People get over these things. Come, I shan't do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this 'commonsense' vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.
—from A Grief Observed

August 1963 Due to ill health, Lewis resigns his teaching post at Cambridge and returns home to live full-time at The Kilns.

August 2

Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly (16:22).

The little girl had been told a thousand times not to play too near the street. She had never known why her parents were so firm about it, but she tried always to remember that it was forbidden. Once she had played too close, and her father had given her a spanking. She remembered that for a long time. It crossed her mind every once in awhile that she should try to find out what was so bad about the road, but she knew that she would have to go to the road to do it, and she wasn't ready to risk it. While she was thinking about the road, the neighbor's dog bolted out after a car. The driver hit his brakes and screeched to a halt, but it was too late. The dog had been hit and was dead. The little girl watched wide-eyed, and suddenly she understood what she had been told all of her life.

Many times we question the things we have been told. We don't understand why they are important. But when we understand the request and we see the logic of it, then it isn't so hard to follow the instructions. Through understanding comes life. When we refuse to listen to the instructions of God in our lives, we are flirting with disaster. All he has commanded is for our safety and well-being. If we will listen to the word of God, a long and happy life will be ours.

prayer: O Lord, I do not understand everything you tell me, but I am trying, and I trust that you know what is best. Help me to be an obedient child, and help me to understand the ways you ask me to live. Amen.
3 August

Alone into the Alone

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
There's a limit to the 'one flesh.' You can't really share someone else's weakness, or fear or pain. What you feel may be bad. It might conceivably be as bad as what the other felt, though I should distrust anyone who claimed that it was. But it would still be quite different. When I speak of fear, I mean the merely animal fear, the recoil of the organism from its destruction; the smothery feeling; the sense of being a rat in a trap. It can't be transferred. The mind can sympathize; the body, less. In one way the bodies of lovers can do it least. All their love passages have trained them to have, not identical, but complementary, correlative, even opposite, feelings about one another.
We both knew this. I had my miseries, not hers; she had hers, not mine. The end of hers would be the coming-of-age of mine. We were setting out on different roads. This cold truth, this terrible traffic- regulation ('You, Madam, to the right—you, Sir, to the left') is just the beginning of the separation which is death itself.
And this separation, I suppose, waits for all. I have been thinking of H. and myself as peculiarly unfortunate in being torn apart. But presumably all lovers are. She once said to me, 'Even if we both died at exactly the same moment, as we lie here side by side, it would be just as much a separation as the one you're so afraid of.' Of course she didn't know, any more than I do. But she was near death; near enough to make a good shot. She used to quote 'Alone into the Alone.' She said it felt like that. And how immensely improbable that it should be otherwise! Time and space and body were the very things that brought us together; the telephone wires by which we communicated. Cut one off, or cut both off simultaneously. Either way, mustn't the conversation stop?
—from A Grief Observed

August 3

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (16:24).

The golden liquid dripped from the combs into the collecting trays. It was amazing to watch the process and to think that this wonderful sweet was the product of a swarm of bees. Processing the honey and cleaning the combs had always been fascinating and he loved watching it. It had been a part of his growing up. He would help his father and his grandfather, and lick the sweet sticky residue off of his hands. That was good, but what was better was taking the first jar into the house to spread on grandma's homemade cornbread. Nothing was better in the whole wide world.

Christians have within their power the ability to sweeten the lives of the people they meet. Kind words and sincere compliments are like the purest honey, sweet and good. The memory of a word rightly spoken can be a strength and a support to a person in time of trial. A compliment can boost a sagging self-image or make a person feel they are appreciated. We need to feel that others care about us and respect us. Our words are precious gifts to give, if we will use them to build up and praise. When we use our words to heal, we are serving God in a very special way, and His favor is upon us.

prayer: When I see the opportunity to offer kind words, help me to say the right thing. Let my speech be a reflection of your grace. Let me serve other people in word as well as deed, Father. Amen.
4 August


Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
I must think more about H. and less about myself.
Yes, that sounds very well. But there's a snag. I am thinking about her nearly always. Thinking of the H. facts—real words, looks, laughs, and actions of hers. But it is my own mind that selects and groups them. Already less than a month after her death, I can feel the slow, insidious beginning of a process that will make the H. I think of into a more and more imaginary woman. Founded on fact, no doubt. I shall put in nothing fictitious (or I hope I shan't). But won't the composition inevitably become more and more my own? The reality is no longer there to check me, to pull me up short, as the real H. so often did, so unexpectedly, by being so thoroughly herself and not me.
The most precious gift that marriage gave me was this constant impact of something very close and intimate yet all the time unmistakably other, resistant—in a word, real. Is all that work to be undone? Is what I shall still call H. to sink back horribly into being not much more than one of my old bachelor pipe-dreams? Oh my dear, my dear, come back for one moment and drive that miserable phantom away. Oh God, God, why did you take such trouble to force this creature out of its shell if it is now doomed to crawl back—to be sucked back—into it?
—from A Grief Observed

1922 Lewis takes First in Literae Humaniores ("Greats")—classical philosophy.

August 4

An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire (16:27).

He knew he would find it if he looked long enough. His opponent could not be the saint he painted himself to be. Every man had a skeleton in his closet. They were unavoidable in politics. Once the public knew he had been treated for drug abuse in college, his pure reputation would be tarnished, and he would be brought back to earth. It didn't matter that it had happened thirty years in the past. All that mattered was that it had happened. It was all he needed to drag his opponent's name through the dirt.

It is sad that so many people take pleasure in the pain they can cause. God wants us to devote as much of ourselves as possible to loving other people, not destroying them. There is nothing good which comes from spreading rumors and trying to discredit those around us. When we live in the past, and in the sins gone by, we are chained to this existence, and we cannot move forward. Thankfully, God forgives us for the things we have done, and we can carry on with a clean slate. It is our duty to do the same for other people. If we hold the past against them, then we judge them unfairly. It is better to see each person for who they are now, and to realize that they too have been created in the image of God.

prayer: It takes so little to make others feel good, Father, and yet I don't try nearly enough. Make sure that I not only avoid doing harm, but also make me to do good whenever and wherever possible. Amen.
5 August

Would I Wish Her Back?

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
What sort of a lover am I to think so much about my affliction and so much less about hers? Even the insane call, 'Come back,' is all for my own sake. I never even raised the question whether such a return, if it were possible, would be good for her. I want her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn't Lazarus the rawer deal?
—from A Grief Observed

August 5

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness (16:31).

There was a time when the elder members of a society were held in high esteem. Their opinion was sought whenever difficult decisions were made. They were visited by the younger members of society who wanted to be taught the skills that the older people possessed. The aged were the keepers of traditions, and the stories of history and heritage. They were revered and praised. They were taken care of by their children, and they were considered a very valuable resource indeed.

It is a shame that has changed. The older people of our day are hidden away in homes and institutions, or communities of people their own age. Their opinion is rarely sought out, and their skills and traditions are ignored. They have become a burden rather than a treasure. This is sad, because they are a wellspring of wisdom and experience.

Wisdom comes over time. As we live and experience the trials and tribulations of this world, we gain a new perspective on the way things really are. A person who lives for a good long time has seen things that we will never hope to understand. A life well lived is a shining example for others to follow. When we hide it away, we cheat ourselves of the light that is waiting to shine forth. God wants our light to shine brightly, and no one should ever ignore a light no matter what the source.

prayer: Help me never to ignore the counsel of those who have lived longer than I have. My elders have much to share and teach. Give me the wisdom to hear their words and follow their instructions. Amen.
6 August

Cherishing Our Unhappiness

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
Still, there's no denying that in some sense I 'feel better,' and with that comes at once a sort of shame, and a feeling that one is under a sort of obligation to cherish and foment and prolong one's unhappiness. .... What is behind it?
Partly, no doubt, vanity. We want to prove to ourselves that we are lovers on the grand scale, tragic heroes; not just ordinary privates in the huge army of the bereaved, slogging along and making the best of a bad job. But that's not the whole of the explanation.
I think there is also a confusion. We don't really want grief, in its first agonies, to be prolonged: nobody could. But we want something else of which grief is a frequent symptom, and then we confuse the symptom with the thing itself. I wrote the other night that bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases—like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too. If it hurts (and it certainly will) we accept the pains as a necessary part of this phase. We don't want to escape them at the price of desertion or divorce. Killing the dead a second time. We were one flesh. Now that it has been cut in two, we don't want to pretend that it is whole and complete. We will be still married, still in love. Therefore we shall still ache.
—from A Grief Observed

1941 Lewis delivers the first of four talks on "Right and Wrong" over the BBC. These talks are later published in Broadcast Talks (1942) and form Book 1 of Mere Christianity.

August 6

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city (16:32).

The choice came down to two salesmen. The first got great results, but he was a little bit wild, and he couldn't always be counted on. The second man got average results, but he could be counted on every time. The account was important, and they really wanted the best person to go after it. The first man figured he would be selected, while the other man only hoped. It came as a surprise to them both when the second man was selected. It was decided that dependability was more important than a smooth come-on.

If we learn to practice self-control we are well on the road to wisdom. God requires his followers to be disciplined. It is not always easy to be a Christian, but we are expected to hold fast to the faith through bad times as well as good. The disciplined person learns to deal with hardship, and through discipline gains endurance. God loves the person who is steadfast and unyielding in faith. The person who gives up easily and forgets their trust has no place with God. We need to pray for strength in our faith, and trust that God will grant it. Discipline is greater than strength or intelligence or charm. It gives us the foundation we need to build a faith which cannot be shaken.

prayer: Give me a faith that will never fail, O Lord. I put my trust in you, because there is nothing on earth which is more powerful than your might. Be with me to strengthen me and give me peace. Amen.
7 August

Holy Intentions

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism—for that is what the words 'one flesh' would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact—just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.
—from Mere Christianity

August 7

The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts (17:3).

The fire glowed white hot. The metal ore was dropped into an oven and it melted like butter. As it liquefied, the impurities and dirt floated to the top. It was skimmed, and then reheated. Once again, any impurity rose to the surface. This was done time and again until nothing made its way to the top. Then it was poured into molds which fashioned the ingots it was distributed in. The intense heat would have destroyed most things, but with gold it simply made it better. No purer gold could be found in existence.

The fire of the Holy Spirit works in our lives in much the same way. God's purging love burns through us, chasing out the impurities and dirt. We are purified each time we ask the Lord into our hearts. He is faithful to take away all our sins and make us pure. Often, it is not easy or pleasant. The fire burns, and it can make us uncomfortable. But the result is worth the discomfort. Being purified in the love of the Lord is an experience which is great beyond words. He sees into the darkest resources of our hearts, and nothing is safe from His healing fire. We are made new and clean in Christ, and we are purified totally. There is no other way. Water may wash us clean outside, but fire is the only way to be purged within.

prayer: Make me clean, Father. Send your cleansing Spirit of fire into my heart. Destroy every impurity in my life and remove the dirt which keeps me from being clean. Refine my heart and make it more precious than gold or silver. Amen.
8 August

Hell's Parody

Screwtape reveals Hell's intentions for human marriage:
The Enemy's demand on humans takes the form of a dilemma; either complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy. Ever since our Father's first great victory, we have rendered the former very difficult to them. The latter, for the last few centuries, we have been closing up as a way of escape. We have done this through the poets and novelists by persuading the humans that a curious, and usually shortlived, experience which they call 'being in love' is the only respectable ground for marriage; that marriage can, and ought to, render this excitement permanent; and that a marriage which does not do so is no longer binding. This idea is our parody of an idea that came from the Enemy.
The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. 'To be' means 'to be in competition'.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 8

Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished (17:5).

The girls walked up the sidewalk to the next house. They had been collecting for hunger relief all afternoon, and they had done pretty well. They knocked at the door, and a man answered.

"We're collecting for the starving children in Calcutta. Could you give something?" one of the girls asked.

"No, I won't give anything. I don't care about the poor in Calcutta. If they want to eat, let them work like I do. If they can't get off their tails and earn a living then they can go right ahead and starve."

With that, the man slammed the door in the stunned faces of the girls.

Whether we realize it or not, poor people are our responsibility. God has given us all the same charge: to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. When we know that someone is in need and we turn our heads so as not to be bothered, we take responsibility for the suffering of others. Those who intentionally cause another grief shall be punished by God Himself. God's people care for each other, and if we call ourselves children of God, yet we ignore those who are in need, then we are liars, and God will have no part in us. The choice is always ours.

prayer: Do not let me ignore my responsibility to other people who are in need. Help me to learn to be compassionate and caring. Let me use the excess from the abundance you have given me to ease the plight of the poor. Amen.
9 August

One Flesh

Screwtape deconstructs the history of marriage:
Now comes the joke. The Enemy described a married couple as 'one flesh'. He did not say 'a happily married couple' or 'a couple who married because they were in love', but you can make the humans ignore that. You can also make them forget that the man they call Paul did not confine it to married couples. Mere copulation, for him, makes 'one flesh'. You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of 'being in love' what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured. From the true statement that this transcendental relation was intended to produce, and, if obediently entered into, too often will produce, affection and the family, humans can be made to infer the false belief that the blend of affection, fear, and desire which they call 'being in love' is the only thing that makes marriage either happy or holy. The error is easy to produce because 'being in love' does very often, in Western Europe, precede marriages which are made in obedience to the Enemy's designs, that is, with the intention of fidelity, fertility and good will; just as religious emotion very often, but not always, attends conversion.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 9

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth (17:8).

The rain was coming down in sheets now, and she had no idea how to change a flat. As long as it was raining so hard she held out little hope of getting someone to stop and help her. Suddenly, a rapping came at her window, and she rolled it down slightly.

"Need some help?"

"I've got a flat and I don't know how to fix it."

"You go wait with my wife in my car, and I'll have it changed in a jiffy."

Her savior was a young man with a beard and a kind face. He worked quickly in the pouring rain, and when he was finished he was drenched to the bone. She thanked him and began to pull a twenty dollar bill out of her wallet, but he refused to take it.

"Listen, all I ask is that you remember this the next time you see someone in need whom you could help. Do something nice for someone else, and we'll call it square," he said.

True kindness doesn't look for any rewards. It is done from the heart, and there is no payment great enough to cover it. It is only when we learn from it, and turn around and give it to someone else that kindness is repaid. Giving of ourselves to others is a precious gift, and when we give it, it just keeps on going.

prayer: Help me to give kindness, love and care, Father. Bless my efforts, that my gift may grow and spread. Amen.
10 August

I Promise You

The idea that 'being in love' is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion's own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.
And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.
—from Mere Christianity

August 10

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends (17:9).

"You never let me forget do you? Look, I said I was sorry a hundred times. I lied, I was wrong. It won't ever happen again!"

It happened every time they got into an argument. He knew he had done wrong, but he had asked forgiveness a dozen times. It would cool down, but then somehow it would come up and start another argument. If only he would let go of it, but no, he always held it over his head. It hurt to know that he wasn't forgiven. He had blown it and was truly sorry, but to be reminded of it over and over made him feel like a heel. He didn't know how much longer he could hear about it before it would begin to affect their friendship.

True forgiveness only occurs when we treat the subject as a closed matter. If we bring up old hurts whenever feelings fly, then we have never really forgiven. To hold a grudge is to build a wall between yourself and another person. Forgiveness breaks down walls. Christ came to break down walls and lead people to reconciliation. Before true healing can occur, though, we must let loose of all hurts and start fresh. Forgiveness gives us the clean start we need to heal all wounds. With God's help, we can grow closer than ever before.

prayer: Teach me how to drop old hurts into the sea of forgetfulness, and truly forgive those who have harmed me. Fill me with your grace, that I might learn how to be graceful to others. Amen.
11 August

Falling in Love

What we call 'being in love' is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it sub-ordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, 'the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs'. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called 'being in love' usually does not last.
—from Mere Christianity

August 11

A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool (17:10).

He'd seen what happened to people who couldn't follow instructions. He'd been in prison a short time, but it didn't take long to learn what to do and what not to do. Some of the inmates were so stupid. They would intentionally disobey, and then get sent off to do hard labor. They never learned. It just wasn't worth it. Well, they didn't have to tell him twice. He was going to toe the line and do just what he was told. There wasn't going to be any hard labor in his future. Prison was hard enough without doing anything to make it worse.

The wise person learns that there is nothing to be gained by sin. With sin comes punishment, and it is better to avoid sin altogether than to try to find some way out of the result. Some people never learn. They do the same things again and again and cannot see their folly. When we sin, it is vital that we turn from sin, rather than head right back into it. When something bad happens, we should avoid it rather than set ourselves up for more pain and suffering. Children learn to do the things they should, and to avoid the things they shouldn't do because they will be punished if they don't. Our punishment comes only once, but it is severe. It is the wise man or woman who decides now not to tempt fate. The wise person follows the rules, and enjoys the rewards it brings.

prayer: Keep me on the paths of righteousness, and never let me stray. Give me the wisdom to know what I should do. Amen.
12 August

Being in Love

If the old fairy-tale ending 'They lived happily ever after' is taken to mean 'They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married', then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be 'in love' need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense—love as distinct from 'being in love'—is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be 'in love' with someone else. 'Being in love' first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.
—from Mere Christianity

August 12

Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house (17:13).

She had tried everything she knew. She had been kind, she had gone out of her way to be friendly, she had offered her rides home, she had bent over backwards to help her out, and she still was rotten to her. She couldn't understand why anybody would want to be so mean. Her best friend had told her that the girl was spreading terrible rumors about her. This very night she had tried to be friendly, and the girl had called her names. some of her friends said that the girl was just jealous of her, but still, that didn't give her the right to be so nasty.

It is hard to understand why people have to be so unkind. We can try everything we know to be nice, and still there are some who will not respond in kind. Those people are to be pitied, for they will never know happiness or peace. There is something which causes them to be terribly unhappy, and they vent their sadness on those around them. Christ enables us to return good for good, and even good for evil, but He never likes to see us return evil for good. Happy and content is the person who spreads happiness, but sad will be the person who spreads evil, for the wrong done will never be escaped.

prayer: O Lord, make me a doer of good works, and help me to avoid doing things which are wrong or hurtful. Help me to understand the people who do me evil, and guide me to try to help them whenever I can. Amen.
13 August

Romance Novels

People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change—not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R. A. F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. ....
Another notion we get from novels and plays is that 'falling in love' is something quite irresistible; something that just happens to one, like measles. And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance. But I am inclined to think that these irresistible passions are much rarer in real life than in books, at any rate when one is grown up. When we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic, of course we ought, in one sense, to admire and love these good qualities. But is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall, or shall not, turn into what we call 'being in love'? No doubt, if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love: just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue. But that will be our own fault.
—from Mere Christianity

1929 Lewis returns to Belfast to nurse his father, Albert, in his final illness.

August 13

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord (17:15).

It had seemed like an open and shut case. All the evidence seemed to point to the innocence of the man. Then there had been rumor of organized crime being involved, and suddenly the case shifted dramatically. Despite huge holes in the argument of the prosecution, the judge had decided in their favor and an innocent man was going to prison. The lawyer had always suspected the judge of some dishonesty, but now he was sure that somebody had the judge in their pocket. There was no doubt about it, the judge had sold out an innocent person, and let the real criminals go free.

Justice is miscarried as often as it is served. Not just in the courtroom, but in everyday life. Good people get persecuted, and evil men and women are applauded as stars and heroes. Somehow our priorities have been badly shaken up. Christ came to change all that. Good people can rest assured that evildoers will be judged according to their actions. What seems so unjust now, will be turned aright when God passes His final judgment. Then, as Scripture says, the last will be first, and those who seem to be first will be last. Evil will be put in its place, and good will rise to reign supreme.

prayer: Give me patience, Lord. Everywhere I look, evil seems to be doing better than good. Help me to remember that you are still in charge, and that everything will turn out well in the end. Grant me peace through trial, Father. Amen.
14 August

Love Then Marriage—or Marriage Then Love?

Screwtape details Hell's lies about marriage:
In other words, the humans are to be encouraged to regard as the basis for marriage a highly-coloured and distorted version of something the Enemy really promises as its result. Two advantages follow. In the first place, humans who have not the gift of continence can be deterred from seeing marriage as a solution because they do not find themselves 'in love', and, thanks to us, the idea of marrying with any other motive seems to them low and cynical. Yes, they think that. They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion. (Don't neglect to make your man think the marriage-service very offensive.) In the second place any sexual infatuation whatever, so long as it intends marriage, will be regarded as 'love', and 'love' will be held to excuse a man from all the guilt, and to protect him from all the consequences, of marrying a heathen, a fool, or a wanton.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 14

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (17:17).

He couldn't believe it. He had worked for the same company for almost thirty years, and suddenly they pulled the rug out from under him. He had never known anything else. It seemed like all his hard work had been for nothing. He had been a good employee, and he had never made trouble. Now he felt ashamed for no good reason. He didn't know what he would do.

A knock at the door brought him out of his deep thought, and he got up to answer it. Outside, his brother waited for him. When he saw his brother standing there, tears came into his eyes. Whenever anything had ever gone wrong his older brother had been there to make him feel better. Just seeing him stand there made him feel like there was nothing to worry about. No matter what happened, he knew he could always count on his brother. He had yet to face any bad situation without his brother to support him, and as long as he could lean on him, he knew everything would be just fine.

As children of God, we can be thankful that we have Christ to call a brother. He will be with us in every situation, both good and bad. He will be our support and our counselor. He will listen without judging, and He will never leave us. He is as true as any brother could be, and we can count on Him to be there for us no matter what.

prayer: Thank you for being there when I need you. You are my strength and my shield. I am so grateful for your love. Amen.
15 August

That Love May Find a Foothold

Screwtape rails against the impossibility of Love:
He [the Enemy] aims at a contradiction. Things are to be many, yet somehow also one. The good of one self is to be the good of another. This impossibility He calls love, and this same monotonous panacea can be detected under all He does and even all He is—or claims to be. Thus He is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in His own nature. At the other end of the scale, He introduces into matter that obscene invention the organism, in which the parts are perverted from their natural destiny of competition and made to co-operate.
His real motive for fixing on sex as the method of reproduction among humans is only too apparent from the use He has made of it. Sex might have been, from our point of view, quite innocent. It might have been merely one more mode in which a stronger self preyed upon a weaker—as it is, indeed, among the spiders where the bride concludes her nuptials by eating the groom. But in the humans the Enemy has gratuitously associated affection between the parties with sexual desire. He has also made the offspring dependent on the parents and given the parents an impulse to support it—thus producing the Family, which is like the organism, only worse; for the members are more distinct, yet also united in a more conscious and responsible way. The whole thing, in fact, turns out to be simply one more device for dragging in Love.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1932 Lewis begins to write The Pilgrim's Regress.

August 15

He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief (17:20).

He had told all his friends he could jump from the bridge to the train as it passed by. He had said he'd done it hundreds of times. They had called him a liar, and double dared him to prove he could do it. They'd even bet him money, so he'd taken them up on it. Now he was standing on the bridge, and his knees felt like jelly. He could hear the train whistle in the distance, and he knew that there was no turning back. He didn't want his friends to think he was a liar, or worse, that he was chicken. the train came into view, and he braced himself. When it got to the underpass he counted ten and then jumped. He was off just a bit, and he slid from the car top and fell to the rocks below. He was badly hurt, but alive. At least he hadn't been chicken.

Lies can only lead us into trouble. Sometimes our words cause us to get ourselves into situations which are dangerous or stupid. We are made prisoners of our lies. It is so much better to live honestly and uprightly rather than in deception. God will reward the honest woman or man, but the liar will have to answer for every falsehood. The upright individual can rest knowing that everything that he or she said is true. The liar has to continually worry that his or her lie will be discovered.

prayer: Lord, I want to be truthful in the way I speak. It is easy to slide into lies, and I need your help to avoid the snare. Protect me from my own weak desires which cause me to lie. Fill me with your truth. Amen.
16 August

The Least Bad of All Sins

If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.
—from Mere Christianity

1945 That Hideous Strength (the final volume of Lewis's Space Trilogy) is published by The Bodley Head, London.

August 16

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones (17:22).

Two men went to the hospital at about the same time, having suffered similar heart attacks. One of the men grew depressed and irritable. He felt betrayed by his own body and saw his affliction as a sign of weakness. His attitude was sour and he cursed his fate. The other man took it in stride. He kidded with everyone who came to visit him, and he laughed long and hard. He refused to be brought down by his plight. Instead, he occupied his time cheering up other patients and chatting with the staff. The first man grew weak and frail. The other man left the hospital in good health, and resumed his old life quickly.

The way we face life has a lot to do with how good we will feel about it. If we are negative, then life will be a burden, but if we are positive, life will seem like the greatest gift we've ever known. Happiness is contagious. When we are happy it spreads. However sadness is contagious, too, and when we are gloomy, we spread a gray cloud over all the people we meet. A positive spirit is like a powerful medicine. It has a great deal of power to heal. It is so much better to face life with joy than to let life get you down. The person who feels that life is bad will wither and fail. God gave us life to enjoy, and He blesses us when we embrace it with happiness and contentment.

prayer: Fill my heart with joy that never ends. Let it overflow from my life to touch the lives of those around me. Make me a source of happiness for everyone I meet. Grace my countenance with a smile, bathed in the light of your love. Amen.
17 August

Bent Appetites

Chastity is the most unpopular of Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, 'Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.' Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.
But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true most of use will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
Or take it another way. You get a large audience together for a stripe-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?
—from Mere Christianity

August 17

Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth (17:24).

It was boring, that was all there was to it. He tried to pay attention, but no matter how hard he tried, his mind just started wandering. Who cared about English anyway? He could read, he could write his name, that was better than a lot of people these days. He just could care less. It was much more interesting to gaze out the window and dream about the future. He planned on making lots of money and having lots of fun. He'd go to a good college and get a good job. Yeah, he knew everybody said his grades weren't good enough, but he'd find some way. High school was dumb. College was a different thing. He'd really apply himself then, but for now, it was boring.

Too many people live for the future instead of for today. We dream of how things might be, and we ignore how things really are. We focus our eyes far up along the road, and we miss all the sights around us now. The wise person lives today to the best of their ability in order to create a better tomorrow. The fool continually dreams of things he or she wants to do without making any of the necessary preparations. It is good and right to hope for things in the future, but we are responsible to do everything we can to make them come true. Tomorrow doesn't mean a thing unless we have lived well today.

prayer: Lord, bless this day, which is a precious gift from you. I thank you for every day that I live. Life is a wonderful gift, and one that I can never hope to repay. Take my life, and consecrate it to your love. Amen.
18 August

One Reason We Don't Desire Chastity

Our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so 'natural', so 'healthy', and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the idea of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour. Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth—the truth, acknowledged above, that sex in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is 'normal' and 'healthy', and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal. Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, must be nonsense. Surrender to all our desires obviously leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that is the reverse of health, good humour, and frankness.
—from Mere Christianity

August 18

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding (17:28).

It took every ounce of courage he had to say anything. He had always been shy, and he was terribly afraid of being made fun of. He knew that if he ever opened his mouth, he would say the wrong thing and be ridiculed. He had been that way all his life. People probably thought he didn't know anything, and that wasn't far from the truth. He wasn't overly bright, and that just added to his fear. It came as quite a shock to him, then, when one of the girls in his class came to him for help with her assignments. She told him that she had always thought that he was smart because he wasn't always talking and trying to impress everyone. What he feared most was that his silence would be taken as ignorance, while instead it was being perceived as maturity and intelligence.

We don't have to be brilliant, but it is important that we learn to keep our mouths shut when the situation warrants it. No one likes a know-it-all, and it is much better to say too little, than to always say too much. The wise person doesn't always have to be talking. They find comfort in silence rather than awkwardness. A fool speaks to cover silence, and ends up saying silly and senseless things. The saying goes, "Silence is golden," and in many cases a truer word was never spoken.

prayer: I think that I have so much that is worth saying. Help me to remember that I learn more when I listen than when I speak. Help me to hold my peace, and to give others time to share their thoughts and feelings. Amen.
19 August

Another Reason We Don't Desire Chastity

Many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility. Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certainly get none for leaving the question alone. Not only in examinations but in war, in mountain climbing, in learning to skate, or swim, or ride a bicycle, even in fastening a stiff collar with cold fingers, people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to.
We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
—from Mere Christianity

August 19

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself (18:1-2).

I have always had the problem of turning a situation over to God, and then pulling it back and trying to handle it myself. As much as I trust God, I find myself holding back and trying to do things by myself. I know in my heart that God is in complete control, and that there is no place better for my problem than in His care. That never stops me from meddling. I foolishly think that I can do every bit as well on my own. Then, when things fall apart, I chastise myself for my stupidity.

Wisdom comes to the man or woman who can trust God totally, and give up their problems to Him. Peace of mind and heart is a rare and valuable quality, and the person who truly trusts God will find it. There is absolutely nothing we can do better than God, except mess up a situation. if we will learn to let go of our trials, and let God work them out, then we will come to know the real meaning of faith. Faith is the confidence of things not seen, the assurance of things hoped for. When we trust God, He will do everything we ask, and our faith will be made rock solid. Foolish people think they know best, but the person who admits limitations is well on the road to wisdom.

prayer: I am so confident of my ability to control my life, and yet there are times when I have just had enough. Let me learn to turn to you for strength and wisdom. You know the way, and you wait to lead me through every trial. Amen.
20 August

A Final Reason We Don't Desire Chastity

People often misunderstand what psychology teaches about 'repressions'. It teaches us that 'repressed' sex is dangerous. But 'repressed' is here a technical term: it does not mean suppressed' in the sense of 'denied' or 'resisted'. A repressed desire or thought is one which has been thrust into the subconscious (usually at a very early age) and can now come before the mind only in a disguised and unrecognisable from. Repressed sexuality does not appear to the patient to be sexuality at all. When an adolescent or an adult is engaged in resisting a conscious desire, he is not dealing with a repression nor is he in the least danger of creating a repression. On the contrary, those who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than anyone else. They come to know their desires as Wellington knew Napoleon, or as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as a rat-catcher knows rats or a plumber knows about leaky pipes. Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog.
—from Mere Christianity

August 20

It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment (18:5).

A renter allowed a woman to take a room, knowing that she was a prostitute. He told her that he wasn't concerned with what she did, so long as she kept her business away from his property. He found out that she had begun to bring her customers to her room nights, and he went to have a talk with her. She defended her right to have anyone she wanted come to her room since she paid a good rent. He replied, "Look, I never passed judgment on you as a person, but I don't like what you do. You are always welcome on my property, but I don't have to allow you to do anything you please. It's nothing personal, it's just the way it is."

God feels much the same way. God loves every person completely. It is the things we often do that God does not like. God wants no one to suffer or be punished, but there are certain things we do that He will not tolerate. God welcomes us all to heaven, but He will not allow us to carry our sins with us into His house. If we want to dwell there, we must follow His rules, and not try to make rules of our own. There is nothing any of us can ever do to make God stop loving us, but there are many things we can do which will cause Him to turn us away from heaven's gate.

prayer: Lord, make my behavior good and acceptable. Help me to see the errors in my thinking and acting. Lead me away from the things which offend you, and bring me to an understanding of behavior which will make me fit for heaven. Amen.
21 August

Gluttony of Delicacy

Screwtape demonstrates the value of gluttony:
The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient's mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished—one day, I hope, will be—to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern?
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 21

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe (18:10).

The fort was just a mile ahead. The troops knew that if things got bad, they could retreat to its safe walls. Battle could be frightening, even to the point of despair, but there was special comfort in being so close to a fort. It made you feel almost invincible. At the sound of the trumpet, the doors would open, and there would be comfort and refuge. Let the enemy come. It wouldn't do them any good. The tower of the sentry rose up above the hills, and it was a symbol of strength to every man on the field.

God is that fortress which is always close by. In times of struggle or chaos, we can turn and run to our strength and safety, which is the Lord. He will always be there, waiting with open arms, to receive His children who run to Him from the storm of battle. He is quick to comfort, and will ever defend His own. In His arms we are invincible. There is no force on earth which can touch us. The devil may fling his fiery darts, but they cannot penetrate the walls of God's great love. The world may batter at the door, but it will exhaust itself in the face of such a solid obstacle. Nothing can intrude upon the fortress of the Lord. Once inside His powerful protection, we are safe and sound for all time.

prayer: I come to you from the field of battle. I am weary and weak. I need your protection and care. In your love I can rest secure and know that everything will be alright. Open the gate of your love to me now, O Lord, and grant me the safety I so long for. Amen.
22 August

Profile of a Glutton: The Demure Little Smile

Screwtape profiles gluttony in action:
Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sigh and a smile 'Oh please, please . . . all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast.' You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practicing temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some over-worked waitress has set before her and says, 'Oh, that's far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it.' If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 22

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honor is humility (18:12).

The opposing team came strutting out onto the court in brand new matching uniforms. The girls warmed up, and they acted cocky. They had been champions two years running, and you could tell that they thought they would have no trouble with the rag-tag band which was there to face them. The other girls looked a little lost on the volleyball court, and they wore whatever shorts and tee-shirts they could throw together. The other team was intimidating, just by their appearance, never mind their attitude.

The games were close, but when the smoke cleared, David had once again knocked off Goliath. The former champs were not quite so haughty now. They looked down at their feet and offered insincere and unconvincing congratulations. Their spirit broken, they headed out of the gymnasium, while the giant killers reveled in their victory.

Sinners kid themselves into believing that they are above the silly faith of Christians. They think that they are too good, too smart for God. When they find out they are wrong, they act as if they had never been told. Humility is a wonderful virtue. It assures the person that they can never be knocked down, because they were never too high in the first place. God blesses the person who realizes they are no better than anyone else.

prayer: You have created so many different kinds of people, dear Lord. Help me to love them all equally, never thinking that I am better than any of them. Grant that I might see your image in every human being. Amen.
23 August

Profile of a Glutton: "All I Want . . ."

Screwtape continues his profile of gluttony in action:
The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the 'All-I-want' state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things 'properly'—because her 'properly' conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by her as 'the days when you could get good servants' but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. If ever the Enemy introduces into her mind a faint suspicion that she is too interested in food, Glubose counters it by suggesting to her that she doesn't mind what she eats herself but 'does like to have things nice for her boy'. In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1863 Albert James Lewis, father of C. S. Lewis, is born in Cork, County Cork, Ireland.

1908 Flora Hamilton Lewis (age forty-six) dies of cancer on her husband Albert's forty-fifth birthday, leaving two young sons, Warren, thirteen, and Jack, nine. During this year Albert Lewis's father and brother also die.

August 23

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him (18:13).

"That's it. I don't want to hear another word about it. I don't care what you have to say, the answer will still be no!" With that, her mother started the car and drove away. She knew that it was a school night, and that her mother wouldn't be thrilled with the idea, but her best friend's grandmother had just died, and her friend's parents had to go away immediately, so she'd asked her mother if her friend could spend the night. Her mother hadn't even let her explain why she wanted her to. All she could say was, "Ask her over on the weekend, then we'll see." Sometimes her mother could be such a pain. She never let her explain anything. Her mother always got the last word, and then slammed the issue shut before she could say her side. It made her so mad.

We are often too quick to speak. When we think we know everything we need to know, and we make a decision without looking at all sides, we are asking for trouble. A wise answer takes time. It takes thought, and it should be based on a good knowledge of the facts. God hopes that we will learn this kind of wisdom. It grows from a respect for others and what they have to say, and it is a sure way that we can show a person that we think they are worthwhile.

prayer: Shut my lips from making hasty replies, O Lord. Grant me the wisdom to hear what people are saying, taking time to let the words sink in. Keep me from being a know-it-all, always reminding me that I have a lot to learn. Amen.
24 August

In The Know

Screwtape adds a new spin to gluttony:
Now your patient is his mother's son. While working your hardest, quite rightly, on other fronts, you must not neglect a little quiet infiltration in respect of gluttony. Being a male, he is not so likely to be caught by the 'All I want' camouflage. Males are best turned into gluttons with the help of their vanity. They ought to be made to think themselves very knowing about food, to pique themselves on having found the only restaurant in the town where steaks are really 'properly' cooked. What begins as vanity can then be gradually turned into habit. But, however you approach it, the great thing is to bring him into the state in which the denial of any one indulgence—it matters not which, champagne or tea, sole colbert or cigarettes—'puts him out', for then his charity, justice, and obedience are all at your mercy.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 24

A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men (18:16).

He has worked for this interview for months. He was about to interview one of the most popular actresses of all time, and he was very nervous. He knew little about her, really, except that she loved animals. He had picked up a stuffed dog on the way up to her apartment, just as a token of esteem, hoping that it would break the ice. She received it warmly, and he felt that he had made exactly the right move. She was truly appreciative of the small gift, and it made the atmosphere so much more comfortable for the interview. Afterwards, the reporter became great friends with the actress, and he frequently dropped in with more "pets" to add to her collection.

Gifts given from a pure heart are a real blessing. They let another person know that you care, and they pave the way for a deeper relationship. Often a well-timed gift can heal a wound or cement a relationship. It blesses both gift and giver, and it spreads a feeling that God loves. Giving is a powerful way to show what kind of person you are. Gifts freely given build bridges that last a lifetime. Nothing is finer than a gift given in love, as is evidenced by the divine gift of God's only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

prayer: Make me a giver, Lord. A giver of time, of talent, of love, of commitment, of peace, of gifts, of all the things that make life worth living. Help me to reflect your giving spirit in every way possible. Amen.
25 August

Deadly Annoyances

Screwtape offers more advice on using daily annoyances to entrap a Patient:
It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for his mother, but we have means of rendering the prayers innocuous. Make sure that they are always very 'spiritual', that he is always concerned with the state of her soul and never with her rheumatism. Two advantages will follow. In the first place, his attention will be kept on what he regards as her sins, by which, with a little guidance from you, he can be induced to mean any of her actions which are inconvenient or irritating to himself. Thus you can keep rubbing the wounds of the day a little sorer even while he is on his knees; the operation is not at all difficult and you will find it very entertaining. In the second place, since his ideas about her soul will be very crude and often erroneous, he will, in some degree, be praying for an imaginary person, and it will be your task to make that imaginary person daily less and less like the real mother—the sharp-tongued old lady at the breakfast table. In time, you may get the cleavage so wide that no thought or feeling from his prayers for the imagined mother will ever flow over into his treatment of the real one. I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment's notice from impassioned prayer for a wife's or son's 'soul' to beating or insulting the real wife or son without a qualm.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 25

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle (18:19).

He knew exactly what to say. He could get his brother so mad without any effort at all. He'd always been able to do it. He knew the right things to say, the right things to do, everything that annoyed, bothered or hurt him. Whenever they fought he pulled off the gloves and let him have it with everything he had. Nobody could get to him any faster than his brother could. It made him so mad thinking about it. Sometimes he hated him.

The old saying goes, "You only hurt the ones you love." If we didn't love people so much, they couldn't get to us. Members of our own families know us better than just about anyone. They know what makes us tick. They know what makes us happy, and they also know what makes us sad. There is great power within families to cause pain and suffering, but there is also power which can be used to buildup and strengthen. If we will use our knowledge of those closest to us to love them, then we begin to understand how wonderful God's love is for us. He knows us completely, and yet, everything He does for us is good and loving. He is our example. Those closest to us should be the easiest to love, not the easiest to hurt. With God ruling in our lives, our closest relationships will be of love and care rather than pain and conflict.

prayer: As I come to know people's weaknesses, Father, help me do everything in my power to protect them, not attack them. Do not let me take advantage of anyone because I know them so well. Amen.
26 August

Under the Same Roof

Screwtape offers more advice on the value of daily annoyances in trapping a Patient:
When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother's eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy—if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 26

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof (18:21).

Pilate looked out over the crowds of people. So, it had come to this. People who usually had no use for him were now coming to him, looking for him to pass judgment on one of their own. It was exhilarating to have such power. With a word, he could bestow life or death. The Nazarene seemed totally unimpressed by his power, but the crowd knew better. They knew that his word was law! No matter how many times he was called upon to pronounce sentence, he still grew tense with excitement. This was power, and he loved it.

There is power in our words. Our tongues are like two edged swords. They can protect and defend or they can cut down and destroy. We are in control of them. Sadly, many people act as if it was the other way around; that their tongues controlled their minds. As Christians, it is vital that we learn to control our tongues. James compares the tongue to a rudder. When a rudder is left untended, the ship flounders. Likewise, when our tongues move uncontrolled, the result is disaster. A wise person keeps a firm control over his or her words. Only words of life and light should be spoken, and with God's help we can hope to always have such graceful speech.

prayer: O Lord, take control of the rudder and steer this humble vessel. Use the words of my mouth to minister to the needs of others. Let the will of my heart always precede the words of my mouth. Amen.
27 August

"All I Said . . ."

Screwtape's last advice on using daily annoyances to distract a Patient:
In civilized life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face. To keep this game up you and Glubose must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard. Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother's utterances with the fullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and the context and the suspected intention. She must be encouraged to do the same to him. Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent. You know the kind of thing: 'I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper.' Once this habit is well established you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a grievance when offence is taken.
—from The Screwtape Letters

August 27

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord (18:22).

When he'd been single, he had always thought he was doing fine. After he got married, he was amazed by all the things he had missed before. Having a wife to share his life with had made life so much more exciting. He felt a stronger purpose to the things he did. His work meant more. His free time meant more. And home had a meaning that he had never known before. When he had been single he had always tried to deny the void which was inside him, but after he was married, he gladly admitted that the void had been filled. Being single had been good, but married life was wonderful.

It is good to find a soul mate to spend our earthly life with. We need others to share our experiences and dreams with. A spouse gives us a good outlet for the things which are most important to us. We obtain balance; a second voice and opinion to help us see things in perspective.

A spouse helps us to understand God better. We find on earth a very special relationship which is a mirror image of a relationship Good longs to have with each one of us. When we marry, the two become one. When we accept Christ into our hearts, a similar thing happens. He gives us new perspective, and we never have to face any aspect of our lives alone.

prayer: Be with me, Lord Jesus. Become one with me, and help me to grow beyond my current limitations. Make me the best person I can possibly be. Recreate me in your holy image. Amen.
28 August

I Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins

We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the Creed "I believe in the forgiveness of sins." I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. "If one is a Christian," I thought, "of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying." But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not nearly so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that very easily slips away if we don't keep on polishing it up.
We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord's Prayer; was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don't forgive you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn't say that we are to forgive other people's sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don't, we shall be forgiven none of our own.
—from "On Forgiveness" (The Weight of Glory)

1947 Lewis writes "On Forgiveness" at the request of Father Patrick Kevin Irwin for inclusion in the parish magazine of the Church of St. Mary, Sawston, Cambridgeshire.

August 28

A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (18:24).

A man moved into an apartment and held an open house in order to meet new people. Many people showed up, and they seemed to enjoy themselves enormously. He invited them to come back, and frequently held parties that were the hit of the apartment complex. When he lost his job, and the funds became scarce, he cut back on his entertaining. Many of his "new friends" stopped coming around. A few stuck with him, though, and they kept coming back regardless of what he had to offer them. They were most concerned with how he was doing. The others were merely concerned with what they could get from him.

Fair-weather friends are easy to come by. The real friend, one who will stand by you no matter what, is rare. It is devastating to think that we have good friends, just to find out that they could care less about us when we hit hard times. We need to have friends we know will stick with us in bad times as well as good. God is one such friend.

No matter what happens, God will be there when we need Him. He will never turn us away, and He loves it when we come to Him with our problems. There is no better friend that we can ever hope to have than God Himself. His love never fails.

prayer: Teach me what being a friend is all about, Lord. Let me see how you intended friends to act by being my friend. Make me over to do for others what you do for me. Help me to deal with people, always in love. Amen.
29 August

Forgiving Versus Excusing

I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says 'Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology, I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.' But excusing says 'I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it, you weren't really to blame.' If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what seemed at first to be the sins turns out to be really nobody's fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. .... But the trouble is that what we call "asking God's forgiveness" very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some "extenuating circumstances." We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don't cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.
—from "On Forgiveness" (The Weight of Glory)

1894 Albert James Lewis and Florence Augusta ("Flora") Hamilton are married at St. Mark's, Dundela, Belfast.

August 29

Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth (19:2).

He looked at his watch again. Ten minutes more and he would be late. He looked both ways, then crept through the red light. He turned the corner and gunned the car along the road. The building was at least ten minutes away, and that was only if there was no traffic and he could park right in front. He pushed a little harder on the accelerator, and the car picked up speed. The light ahead turned yellow, so he gave the gas a shove and sped through it. His destination came into view, but the flashing red and blue lights in his rear view mirror tore his attention away. The police car flagged him down, and the officer was not buying any of his excuses. By the time the ticketing was done, ten minutes had passed, and he was hopelessly late. Mentally, he kicked himself. If he had obeyed all the laws, he would have arrived much earlier than he was sure to now.

When we race through life, we are bound to make mistakes and get caught. Rules are given that we might live safely and happily. They are there for the protection of the masses. God's rules were given for the same reason. When we break them, for any reason, we are being selfish and ultimately we will have to pay the penalty.

prayer: Dear God, slow me down. I race through this life as if I was being chased. I need to take time to enjoy life, and to pay attention to your presence in the world. When I run along blindly, I see neither the good which is there, nor the bad which is in my path. Amen.
30 August

Two Remedies for Excuses

There are two remedies for this danger. One is to remember that God knows all the real excuses very much better than we do. If there are real "extenuating circumstances" there is no fear that He will overlook them. Often He must know many excuses that we have never thought of, and therefore humble souls will, after death, have the delightful surprise of discovering that on certain occasions they sinned much less than they had thought. All the real excusing He will do. What we have got to take to Him is the inexcusable bit, the sin. We are only wasting time by talking about all the parts which can (we think) be excused. When you go to a doctor you show him the bit of you that is wrong—say, a broken arm. It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your legs and eyes and throat are all right. You may be mistaken in thinking so, and anyway, if they are really all right, the doctor will know that.
The second remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless He is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor. But that would not be forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.
—from "On Forgiveness" (The Weight of Glory)

August 30

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor (19:4).

It was hard. All through college they had been the best of friends. They had gone everywhere together and done everything together. They had been inseparable. Since they had left college, though, things had changed. Her friend had married into money, and taken a high paying job herself. Meanwhile, she was working with poor families, and her salary was barely enough to feed her and pay the rent. Her friend didn't seem to have any time for her anymore. They had so little in common. Really, the only thing that had changed was their financial status, but that was enough to drive a wedge between them. Her best friend acted like she wasn't good enough anymore.

Money can change many things. It can cause us to act strangely, and it can turn our priorities upside down. The interests of the wealthy are usually not the interests of the poor. The poor cannot hope to reach up to the level of the rich, but those with money have a great opportunity to reach out to the poor. God calls us to give what we can to ease the burden of those who are less fortunate. Money should never close us off from anyone else, but it should ever open new doors for us to enter into God's ministry.

prayer: Lord, all that I have has come from you, and to you I commit it. Let me use my wealth to build bridges, rather than to dig chasms. Help me to befriend others not on the basis of economics, but on their worth as children of yours. Amen.
31 August

As We Forgive Others

When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, "But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise." Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn't mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God's forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people's we do not accept them easily enough.
—from "On Forgiveness" (The Weight of Glory)

August 31

Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts. All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? He pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him (19:6-7).

He loved to string people along. He had saved all his money to purchase a fine suit of clothes. He had a think wad of bills, all ones except for a $100 which he kept on the outside. He'd walk into a restaurant or hotel and flash his wad, and you should have seen the people jump. When he dressed normally, in jeans and a sweatshirt, no one moved to do him any favors, but when he was suited and well set moneywise, people fell all over him. He did it to prove a point, but few people seemed to get it. The regular people got treated like dirt, and the wealthy were treated royally. It was sad, but true.

When we allow ourselves to be blinded by the accessories and the frills, we lose sight of the face off Christ which is in each person. Wealthy people are treated so well in hopes that they will throw some of their fortune our way. A poor person who is treated well is treated so because he or she is respected as a person. God wants us to treat everyone the same way, looking not at what a person has, but at what a person is: a child of the most high God. When we see people as they are, then we can love them equally and purely.

prayer: Lord, you do not judge us based on what we own or how much money we have. Teach me to see others just that way. Keep me from being blinded by the glitter of gold, and let me instead be impressed by the light of Christ which shines forth from every human being. Amen.
1 September

No Exceptions

As regards my own sins it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men's sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought. but even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine per cent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one per cent of guilt which is left over. To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.
—from "On Forgiveness" (The Weight of Glory)

September 1910 Lewis (age eleven) is enrolled at Campbell College, Belfast, for a period of four months.

September 1913 Warren begins private studies with his father's former teacher, William T. Kirkpatrick, in Great Bookham, Surrey.

September 1

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression (19:11).

This was the third home she had been placed in, but it was by far the best. The first place she went, they tried to lock her in her room after dark. They punished her severely, and even hit her. She had run away so many times that they put her back in the orphanage. The second home was like a hurricane. Everybody was fighting all the time. She had called the director of the home for girls in tears, and they had come to get her. This new place was different, though. The people acted like they cared. The fact that she had run away so much, and that she had been sent to reformatory two times didn't seem to make a difference to her new folks. They acted like they trusted her, and when she had asked them why, they had told her that all the other stuff was in the past. They would trust her until she gave them reason not to. She decided right then and there that she was going to try never to give them any reason.

It is so important for us to forgive people their past sins. When we mistrust someone because of their past, we apply a stigma to them that they fight all of their lives. It is better to learn to forgive, and to keep forgiving, so that the person can know that there is no judgment which will come from us. Judgment will come from the Lord. What should come from us is open and honest love, and the gift of a second chance.

prayer: Lord, let me forgive those whom I meet, and grant that I might learn to forgive others as you have forgiven me. Amen.
2 September

Past, Present, and Future

Screwtape strategizes with Wormwood, using Time as a weapon:
I had noticed, of course, that the humans were having a lull in their European war—what they naïvely call 'The War'!—and am not surprised that there is a corresponding lull in the patient's anxieties. Do we want to encourage this, or to keep him worried? Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind. Our choice between them raises important questions.
The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1939 The first children evacuated from war-time London arrive at The Kilns.

1973 J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis's lifelong friend, colleague, and fellow Inkling, dies at age eighty-one.

September 2

The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass (19:12).

He had almost forgotten about it. Not two weeks before he had borrowed his father's power drill without asking him, and somehow he had broken the bit. He had been too scared to tell his dad right then, so he kept putting it off. Finally, he forgot it completely. Forgot it until his dad came to his room, holding the broken bit in his hand. He expected to be really lectured. His dad had told him a thousand times not to use his tools without permission. He hung his head and admitted what had happened, but instead of a lecture, his father just laughed and shook his head. He clapped his son on the back and asked him to go to the hardware store with him to get a new bit.

When we do something wrong, we live in fear of the wrath that is to come. As a person hears the growl before the lion springs, a wrongdoer feels guilt before the punishment comes. If we will heed the feeling of guilt and confess our wrongs before God, His wrath will turn to favor, and we will know forgiveness. That forgiveness, that reprieve from punishment is as sweet and refreshing as the morning dew, and it is a precious and lasting gift. Nothing is better than coming to know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially in the face of punishment for sin.

prayer: How many things do I try to hide from you, O Lord? Forgive my foolish attempts to avoid your wrath and displeasure. Lead me to your forgiveness, Father, and let me know that your love is greater than any wrong I might commit. Amen.
3 September

Life on the Edge of a Precipice

War creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with "normal life." Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil, like the nineteenth century, turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties, emergencies. Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right. But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons. They wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes. Periclean Athens leaves us not only the Parthenon but, significantly, the Funeral Oration. The insects have chosen a different line: they have sought first the material welfare and security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. Men are different. They propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache; it is our nature.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

1939 Britain and France declare war on Germany.

September 3

A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping (19:13).

He had just about had enough. It was bad enough that his son had been expelled from school for fighting ... the third time, and that his wife kept defending their son, but then for them to get into a fight over the whole affair in public, it was just too much. All of his friends knew of the problems he had. They all knew that his son was no student, and that he carried a chip on his shoulder continually. They also knew that his wife argued with him all the time. He couldn't stand all the pitying stares and the comments made supposedly behind his back. It hurt him deeply, and he felt helpless to do anything to change it.

It would be wonderful if all of our actions brought honor to our families. Unfortunately, that's an unrealistic hope. No one is perfect. We have to accept each other, flaws and all. Still, we should try to do everything we can to make our families proud of us. We should especially do everything in our power to make our heavenly Father proud of us. Christians are to be examples for others to follow, and when we dishonor God we do a very serious thing. Through our actions we discredit the power of God to make us new people. Our foolishness causes calamity, and our resistance to His will makes other people doubt the power of our faith.

prayer: Lord, guide the steps of my feet. Help me to remember that the eyes of other people are on me, seeing the difference you have made in my life. When I dishonor you, I dishonor the entire faith. Forgive me. Amen.
4 September

The Imaginary Claims of War and Religion

Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realised that one's life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before, one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things. Before I went to the last war I certainly expected that my life in the trenches would, in some mysterious sense, be all war. In fact, I found that the nearer you got to the front line the less everyone spoke and thought of the allied cause and the progress of the campaign; and I am pleased to find that Tolstoi, in the greatest war book ever written, records the same thing—and so, in its own way, does the Iliad. Neither conversion nor enlistment in the army is really going to obliterate our human life. Christians and soldiers are still men; the infidel's idea of a religious life and the civilian's idea of active service are fantastic. If you attempted, in either case, to suspend your whole intellectual and aesthetic activity, you would only succeed in substituting a worse cultural life for a better. You are not, in fact, going to read nothing, either in the Church or in the line: if you don't read good books, you will read bad ones. If you don't go on thinking rationally, you will think irrationally. If you reject aesthetic satisfactions, you will fall into sensual satisfactions.
There is therefore this analogy between the claims of our religion and the claims of the war: neither of them, for most of us, will simply cancel or remove from the slate the merely human life which we were leading before we entered them.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

September 4

He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die (19:16).

One mistake could be fatal. The cars moved around the track at speeds close to 200 miles per hour. A momentary lapse could prove fatal. Everything that had ever been learned about racing was called into practice each time a driver sat behind the wheel. Experience was the best resource, but even that was no guarantee. One bad move was all it took. You had to pay attention, and you had to know what was expected of you. You only hoped everybody else did what they were supposed to, too.

Sadly, we don't look at God's commandments as a matter of life and death. We break an occasional commandment, and nothing much seems to happen. We don't realize that sin builds a wall between us and God. Asking His forgiveness breaks down that wall, but we have to be faithful to do that. Sin is a matter of life or death. The wages of sin is death. There are no two ways about it. It is good to know that God is quick to forgive, and that He will do everything in His power to make sure that we will come back to Him. We must pay attention to God's will and do what is expected of us, and we must also try to take every opportunity to help others do what is expected.

prayer: Lord, your word is always with me. Help me to heed its instructions and follow it closely. Let me not depart from it, even for a moment, for in the wink of an eye, many things can happen. Amen.
5 September

The Claims of War: Render unto Caesar

The war will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is a finite object and, therefore, intrinsically unfitted to support the whole attention of a human soul. In order to avoid misunderstanding I must here make a few distinctions. I believe our cause to be, as human causes go, very righteous, and I therefore believe it to be a duty to participate in this war. And every duty is a religious duty, and our obligation to perform every duty is therefore absolute. Thus we may have a duty to rescue a drowning man and, perhaps, if we live on a dangerous coast, to learn lifesaving so as to be ready for any drowning man when he turns up. It may be our duty to lose our own lives in saving him. But if anyone devoted himself to lifesaving in the sense of giving it his total attention—so that he thought and spoke of nothing else and demanded the cessation of all other human activities until everyone had learned to swim—he would be a monomaniac. The rescue of drowning men is, then, a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for. It seems to me that all political duties (among which I include military duties) are of this kind. A man may have to die for our country, but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

September 5

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again (19:17).

A poor woman came to a rich young ruler and asked him for a few coins. The ruler turned her away, telling her to work for her food. A sick man came asking help, and he, too, was turned away. A friend who had come on hard times stopped and asked for assistance, but the young ruler told him to work for his wage. Then the Lord came to him, asking for a small loan. The rich young man said, "Lord, all that I have is yours. Take what you will, and more." The Lord took from the ruler and gave to the woman, and to the man, and to the friend. He said to the ruler, "I come to you in many forms. When you give to any of these, then you give also to me. Hold back nothing from those who ask, and your reward will be great in heaven."

It is hard to see sometimes, but when we give to a child of God, we give also to the Father. God loves to see us care for one another, and he abhors it when we turn away from others in need. The wise man or woman shares all they have, and asks nothing in return. God showed us this way when He gave his Son to be our Savior, requiring nothing more than that we believe. This is the seed of true believing, and it is within reach of all who will take it.

prayer: I sometimes turn my back to the poor. Help me to remember that I am really turning my back on you. Forgive me for my unkindness. Let me learn to be unselfish, and take from me what is really yours, Father. Amen.
6 September

The Claims of Religion: Do All to the Glory of God

It is for a very different reason that religion cannot occupy the whole of life in the sense of excluding all our natural activities. For, of course, in some sense, it must occupy the whole of life. There is no question of a compromise between the claims of God and the claims of culture, or politics, or anything else. God's claim is infinite and inexorable. You can refuse it, or you can begin to try to grant it. There is no middle way. Yet in spite of this it is clear that Christianity does not exclude any of the ordinary human activities. St. Paul tells people to get on with their jobs. He even assumes that Christians may go to dinner parties, and, what is more, dinner parties given by pagans. Our Lord attends a wedding and provides miraculous wine. Under the aegis of His Church, and in the most Christian ages, learning and the arts flourish. The solution of the paradox is, of course, well known to you. "Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest, and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not. Christianity does not simply replace our natural life and substitute a new one; it is rather a new organisation which exploits, to its own supernatural ends, these natural materials.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

1954 The Horse and His Boy (the fifth book written in The Chronicles of Narnia) is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

September 6

There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand (19:21).

A woman asked a question of her pastor. "What if Moses had refused to face Pharoah? Or if Abraham had refused to obey God's command to slay Isaac? Or if Christ had decided to follow His will in the Garden of Gethsemane rather than God's?" The pastor reflected on the question for a moment, then said, "I suppose God would have found someone else. If God wants something done, it will be done. His way will be established, not the way of man."

It is important to realize that God will work in spite of us when He cannot work through us. We need to heed His call carefully, for if we are indecisive or resistant, He might just go elsewhere, looking for someone who will follow Him. God's will is supreme, and it is a privilege to be a part of it. We may think of millions of directions for our lives to go, but if we put our trust in God, He will be faithful to set us upon the best path, and He will walk beside us every step of the way. It is a great comfort to know that God is in control, and that in the end, everything will be just as He intended it to be.

prayer: God, I do not presume to pretend that I understand everything that you do. Your will is far beyond my comprehension. Thank you for loving me enough to make me a part of your great creation. Walk with me, and be with me this day, and all the days to come. Amen.
7 September

Learning as Vocation

A man's upbringing, his talents, his circumstances, are usually a tolerable index of his vocation. If our parents have sent us to Oxford, if our country allows us to remain there, this is prima facie evidence that the life which we, at any rate, can best lead to the glory of God at present is the learned life. By leading that life to the glory of God I do not, of course, mean any attempt to make our intellectual inquiries work out to edifying conclusions. That would be, as Bacon says, to offer to the author of truth the unclean sacrifice of a lie. I mean the pursuit of knowledge and beauty, in a sense, for their own sake, but in a sense which does not exclude their being for God's sake. An appetite for these things exists in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain. We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty as such, in the sure confidence that by so doing we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so. Humility, no less than the appetite, encourages us to concentrate simply on the knowledge or the beauty, not too much concerning ourselves with their ultimate relevance to the vision of God. That relevance may not be intended for us but for our betters—for men who come after and find the spiritual significance of what we dug out in blind and humble obedience to our vocation. .... The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

1953 The Silver Chair (the fourth book written in The Chronicles of Narnia) is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

September 7

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar (19:23).

Early in their marriage she had loved her husband's gentle spirit and giving nature. He had spent time with the children, and he had loved the free time he could devote to his family. As the years passed, things changed. He devoted more and more of himself to his job. He became obsessed with getting ahead. The pressures he felt at work he brought home with him, and he vented his frustrations on his family. His once-gentle spirit had turned hard, and it appeared that he had forgotten how to give. She was very sad over the change, and realized that part of it was her fault. She had grown accustomed to living well, and the only way their lifestyle could be maintained was through her husband's hard work. Deep inside, she wished that things would be different.

What we want inside will be apparent by the way we live our lives. Whatever we make our god, that we will pursue with all our heart, mind, and spirit. If the Lord is the desire of our hearts, kindness and love will show forth, but if we pursue material gain, or fame, or prestige, then we will be devoid of kindness and warmth. It is much better to forsake all wealth in order to live purely and righteously. God smiles upon us when we remain true to His ways. When we live a life of kindness and caring, He rejoices.

prayer: Help me not to be swept up in the ways of the world. They lead down a false path to a poor reward. The path to heaven is a true path, and the reward is greater than anything this world has to offer. Amen.
8 September

Learning as a Necessary Weapon

If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether. Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.
—from "Learning in War-Time" (The Weight of Glory)

1947 Lewis appears on the cover of Time magazine, with the caption "Oxford's C. S. Lewis, His Heresy: Christianity"

1958 Reflections on the Psalms is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

September 8

Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge (19:27).

He had a magical ability. Everyone who heard him speak was hypnotized. He seemed to have all the answers and he knew each person completely. People came from all over everywhere to join his little group. They had been labeled a cult, but that was by people who didn't know what they were talking about. The group had received so much. He helped them to understand life, to strip themselves of all worldly constraints, and to find true peace. They would be able to do anything they wanted, just by worshipping him. It was a small price to pay for the truth he was giving them.

It's interesting how many people will follow a false, human, god, when they would never think of devoting themselves to God. God asks us to do things for our own good, while would-be messiahs are self-serving and egocentric. The way of the Lord is the only true way. We kid ourselves when we try to find alternatives. We need to stay steadfast in our pursuit of His will and purpose. We must cease listening to the temptations of those who would pull us away. It is good for us to wrap ourselves in the Word of God, the instructions which lead only to true knowledge, and nowhere else.

prayer: I am looking for answers, Lord, but I am afraid that sometimes I am too impatient. I search for solutions in places other than your word. Forgive me when I stray. Keep my eyes and my heart focused on you. Amen.
9 September

What Is Charity?

'Charity' now means simply what used to be called 'alms'—that is, giving to the poor. Originally it had a much wider meaning. (You can see how it got the modern sense. If a man has 'charity', giving to the poor is one of the most obvious things he does, and so people came to talk as if that were the whole of charity. In the same way, 'rhyme' is the most obvious thing about poetry, and so people come to mean by 'poetry' simply rhyme and nothing more.) Charity means 'Love, in the Christian sense'. But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.
—from Mere Christianity

1960 Studies in Words is published by Cambridge University Press.

September 9

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (20:1).

It always started the same way. A voice in his head said, "One more won't hurt anything." But one more turned into five, and before he knew it he was over the edge. This time it had caused him to miss work. Before, it had made him wreck his car. Once it had put him in the hospital. Where was it going to end? He refused to believe he was an alcoholic. He only drank once every few months or so, but when he did, the results were disastrous. He was a moderately intelligent young man, but when he got to drinking, all reason flew right out the window.

God disapproves anytime we become prisoner to some substance. If we find that we cannot live without something, or that we cannot control our behavior, then that thing must be removed from our lives. There are no two ways about it. Christians are to be disciplined people, and it is vital that we learn to control our actions and our thoughts. Strong drink removes the ability to do that. Christians are constantly being examples of the truth of Christ. If we are controlled by other things, then we dishonor God. We must rise above the things which try to trap us, to show the liberating power of Christ in our lives. If we will ask Him, He will be faithful to give us the strength we need to kick any bad habit.

prayer: If there is anything in my life which you are ashamed of, Father, please help me to destroy it completely. I want to be a fine example of your love and power. Make me over to be as good a person as I can be. Amen.
10 September

The Rule of Love

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his 'gratitude', you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.
—from Mere Christianity

1905 George MacDonald, whose writings greatly influenced Lewis, dies at age eighty.

1956 Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

September 10

It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling (20:3).

She wished she could be like her husband. Nothing ever seemed to get to him. He took everything in stride, and he acted as though he hadn't a care in the world. She, on the other hand, worried about everything. She was positive that if there was something that could possibly go wrong, it would. She didn't mean to be negative, but she couldn't help it. She wanted to be able to let go of her doubts and fears, but so far she hadn't been able to.

It's sometimes hard to realize that God gave us life as a gift. Many times it feels like such a burden. God never wants us to suffer unnecessarily. Part of the message that Christ brought to this world was that no one had to face problems alone. God is with us always. Another part of His message was that nothing on this earth is important other than our relationship to God and to our neighbor. Job, finances, illness, and a hundred other things create stress in our lives, but when compared with the bigger picture of eternal life, they are totally insignificant. As Christians, we need to learn to look at the world through eternity-eyes, rather than temporal-eyes. Our home is in heaven, and everything that happens to us now means nothing, so long as we have our relationships in order.

prayer: Lord, I get sidetracked so easily. I let the silliest things bring me down. Help me to see everything in its proper perspective. Grant me peace of mind which never ends. Amen.
11 September

Compound Interest

Though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or 'likings' and the Christian has only 'charity'. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he 'likes' them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on—including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.
This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become—and so on in a vicious circle for ever.
Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.
—from Mere Christianity

September 11

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing (20:4).

There is a famous children's story about a little red hen who searched for other barnyard residents to help her bake bread. No matter where she went, all the other animals had some reason why they couldn't pitch in and help. Finally, she decided to bake the bread by herself, and soon the entire barnyard was filled with the enticing aroma of her coop-baked bread. When the other animals smelled the fine bread, they flocked around the chicken coop with their mouths watering. The hen peeked her head out and announced, "Everyone who helped make the bread gets a big slice with butter!" Whereupon, she proceeded to eat hers in front of a group of regretful loafers.

How sorry a day it will be when we are called to stand before the judgement throne of God if we have not chosen to follow His commandments. He has asked us to do what we know we should, and often we disobey, not through an evil spirit, but because of laziness. Just as the animals in the story, though, we can hope to receive no more than we were willing to give in this life. If we give nothing, then nothing will we receive. If we give much, our Father in heaven will heap an unending supply of good things upon us.

prayer: When a call comes for obedience or service, let me be the first to raise my hand to volunteer, O Lord. I do not want to be left outside in the last days. Welcome me into your holy presence, Father. Amen.
12 September

No Manufactured Feelings

Some writers use the word charity to describe not only Christian love between human beings, but also God's love for man and man's love for God. About the second of these two, people are often worried. They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, 'If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?' When you have found the answer, go and do it.
On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.' He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.
—from Mere Christianity

September 12

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes (20:8).

In a certain mythical kingdom, the throne room of the castle was exposed so that all the subjects could see their king. He would rule from his elevated throne, and nothing happened in the kingdom which escaped his notice. Whenever a misdeed was committed, he would summon the perpetrator and have him brought to the throne. There, in front of all his subjects, he would give sentencing. He was always fair and just, and people learned to respect his decree. They felt protected under his watchful gaze, and the evildoers found no comfort in his land. In time, the evil fled the city, and only the good remained, to be watched and cared for by the wise king.

We are subjects to a king who watches everything we do. He sees us at our best and at our worst, and He is fair with us in His judgment and commands. We have nothing to fear from our King, so long as we obey His rules. In the end, we will all stand before His throne, and He will allow us a place in His Kingdom, or He will have us removed. The choice is ours, but it is good to remember that nothing we do escapes His careful gaze. He sees the good and is pleased, and He sees the evil which He scatters with His eyes

prayer: I thank you that I am never out of your sight. I apologize for the things I do which are not pleasing to you, and I ask your forgiveness. Let me know when I please you, Lord, that I might always walk in those ways. Amen.
13 September

On Giving

In the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason 'in order that he may have something to give to those in need'. Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, adjustments, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of 'charities' in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbours or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity. This must often be recognised as a temptation. Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.
—from Mere Christianity

September 13

Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are like abomination to the Lord (20:10).

She stormed into the classroom with her paper clenched in her fist. She marched up to the professor's desk and tossed her paper in front of him. A "C+" was scrawled across the head of the paper.

"Why was I given this grade? This is a good paper."

"Good for anybody else maybe, but not for you. You put forth average effort, and you got an average grade."

"That's not fair. My paper is better than most in the class, but a lot of people got 'A's."

"Look, I can give you any grade I please. I think you can do better, so I gave you a 'C+.' That's it!"

"I'll fight it. It's not fair for you to judge some people one way, and other people differently."

It's frustrating to feel like we are being taken advantage of. When we deal with other people, we like to think that we will be treated fairly. By the same token, we should be very careful in our dealings with other people to be sure that we always treat them fairly. God looks kindly on His children who deal with equality and fairness. Partiality is an abomination in the sight of God. We must always strive to do what we know is right.

prayer: Lord, let me look upon every person I meet as an equal. Help me to remember to treat them as I would like to have them treat me. Guard that I do nothing to offend or cause suffering. Amen.
14 September

Is It Really Kindness?

For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues—'kindness' or mercy—that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy—for every Christian must reject with detestation that covert propaganda for cruelty which tries to drive mercy out of the world by calling it names such as 'Humanitarianism' and 'Sentimentality'. The real trouble is that 'kindness' is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that 'his heart's in the right place' and 'he wouldn't hurt a fly', though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble.
—from The Problem of Pain

September 14

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (20:11).

The class was a mixture. Half the children sat quietly, paying attention and doing the work they were asked to do. The other half ran wild. They were noisy and uncooperative, and it was a battle to get them to pay any attention at all. They refused to stay in their seats, and if you turned your back on one of them, they were out the door, causing a disturbance in another classroom. None of the children were really bad kids, but some of them had not learned any manners or self-control. Their misbehavior made it terribly difficult to teach the children who were cooperative and willing to learn.

Even with children, it is easy to tell what they are like by the things they do. We should not always judge a person by their actions, but it is true that a person gives forth that which is inside. If we are nice, kind, gentle people, our actions will reflect that. If in turmoil, we have anger, or jealousy, or lust inside, then our actions will most likely reflect that, too. That is why it is so important to put Jesus in control of our lives, and to spend time with Him daily. With Him in command, we are assured of living a life which is an honor to God. People watch the way we live. When our lives are right, it proves to people that God has the power to change lives.

prayer: O Lord, make me new. Take the storms which rage in my heart, and calm them with a single word. From the peace which you alone can give, help me to spread it to everyone I meet. Amen.
15 September

Wise as Serpents

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the 'virtues'. In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are 'good', it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of 'prudence' about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves', but also 'as wise as serpents'. He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have.
—from Mere Christianity

1952 The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" (the third volume written in The Chronicles of Narnia) is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

September 15

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them (20:12).

He stood looking on in awe. His son, his firstborn, was coming into the world, and he was a part of it. He stood by his wife's head, and together they shared the wonder of the experience. He had often doubted whether God existed, but now all of his doubts were gone. He looked on at the perfect little creation. Each finger and toe was a testament to God's loving existence. The miracle of life was overwhelming. It was inconceivable that something like this could happen by chance. Only a master artist of incomprehensible power and glory could come up with something so fine as human life.

When we look at God's creation, it is difficult to question anything about Him. There is so much to wonder at in the world. As we learn more and more, it should not make us skeptical of God. Quite the contrary, it should convince us that there is a grand author to all creation, and that His power is far beyond our wildest imagination. Only a foolish person would deny God's existence in the face of such remarkable evidence. To see God, all we must do is open our eyes and look around. His signature is on each one of his creations. He is right there for the person who has eyes to see, and ears to hear. God is all around us.

prayer: O Lord, you are indeed everywhere. I look to the sky, and your beauty and wonder meets my eye. I look around, and I see you in the faces of those I meet. I look inward, and thankfully, I see you in my heart. Amen.
16 September

Not Just About Falling Down

Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened 'Temperance', it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion. Of course it may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of man who cannot drink at all without drinking too much, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkenness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. ....
One great piece of mischief has been done by the modern restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people to forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things. A man who makes his golf or his motor-bicycle the centre of his life, or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to clothes or bridge or her dog, is being just as 'intemperate' as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals.
—from Mere Christianity

1954 English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama is published by Clarendon Press, Oxford.

September 16

Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterward his mouth shall be filled with gravel (20:17).

His boss had told him that he had to make contact with all twelve of the outlet stores. He struggled through ten, then decided he'd had enough. He never did get back to the other two, but when his boss asked him, he said he'd completely finished. All went well until his boss asked him for detailed reports on all twelve of the outlets. He had no idea what he could say about the two outlets, and he didn't have time to get to them before the reports were due. He falsified the reports he turned in, but afterwards he felt uneasy. He continually wondered if his boss knew what he had done, and it put unusual pressure on their relationship.

When we live a lie, it takes control of us, and it usually leads to more lies. We get caught in a tangled web, and we are continually afraid that we might be discovered. It takes so much more energy to tell a lie than it does to tell the truth. We may not like the consequences of telling the truth all the time, but it is much better than facing the consequences of being caught in a lie. Our God is the God of Truth, and those who live in lies will have no part in Him. The truth is a much better companion, and it will lead us straight to the gates of heaven.

prayer: I gain nothing through deception and lies. Lead me in the paths of truth and righteousness. Help me to see that a single grain of truth is preferable to a mountain of lies. Teach me your ways, O Lord. Amen.
17 September

When Worlds Collide

The word Faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses. .... In the first sense it means simply Belief—accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people—at least it used to puzzle me—is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue. I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue—what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants to or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad. ....
Well, I think I still take that view. But what I did not see then—and a good many people do not see still—was this. I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. I start thinking I am going to choke, and I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under. In other words, I lose my faith in anaesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other.
—from Mere Christianity

September 17

He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips (20:19).

A man was seen coming and going from a married woman's house. Her neighbor watched with fascination, and concocted elaborate tales which she shared with her friends as truth. There was no evidence any more incriminating than the fact that the young man came regularly, but the rumor was that the woman was having an affair. The "news" spread like wildfire, and wind of it eventually got back to the woman's husband. He confronted her in anger and hurt. The woman defended herself well. The young man she was seeing was her own brother, who came to the house to study in between his classes. The senseless words of a gossip caused unnecessary pain to other people, and planted a seed of doubt which caused great trouble.

There is no such thing as harmless gossip. Gossip is wrong. It is talking about someone in a negative way who has no chance to defend himself. It is usually based on half-truths and sparse information. It isn't done to build someone up. It is only done to tear someone down. When we tell false stories about another person, we are stealing from them in the worst way. We take away dignity and honor, and we throw dirt on their reputation. It is an evil that God despises because of its basic cruelty. Lovers of the Lord are lovers of all His children. Therefore, we should speak of our sisters and brothers only as we would speak of the Lord, Himself.

prayer: May my words be ever praiseworthy. Let no foulness or gossip pass from my lips, O Lord. Amen.
18 September

Faith in Training

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to 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.
The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?
—from Mere Christianity

1908 Lewis (age nine) is enrolled at Wynyard School, Watford, England.

1913 Lewis (age fourteen) is enrolled at Malvern College with scholarship.

September 18

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, Searching all the inward parts of the belly (20:27).

The cave was dark. There was no light coming from within it at all. They felt their way along for a moment, but decided it was much too dangerous. They had no idea how deep it was, where it led, or what they might find as they went. The group went back to find lanterns which they could carry into the new cave. Once lit, the cave was breathtaking. Rock formations caught the light and reflected it in a million little stars. Crystals hung from the ceiling, and each reflected the light of the lanterns to brighten the entire cave. The band of explorers covered every inch, and left no crevice unchecked.

God is like a deep, dark cavern which we cannot see into. One's spirit is like a lantern. It may burn brightly or it may shine forth strongly. As we grow in our faith, the light increases, and we can begin to see God more clearly and understand Him better. As we grow closer to Him, and our inner light increases, we are better able to explore His depth and majesty, and we come to an even closer relationship to Him. He feeds the light of our spirit and then reveals Himself to us in its light. In this way, we come to truly know God.

prayer: Reveal yourself to me, Lord. I so want to know you. Fuel the flame of my light that it may shine brightly, illuminating your will for my life. Build my spirit and guide me in the ways that lead to you. Amen.
19 September

Real Temptation

You may remember I said that the first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud. I want to add now that the next step is to make some serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues. A week is not enough. Things often go swimmingly for the first week. Try six weeks. By that time, having, as far as one can see, fallen back completely or even fallen lower than the point one began from, one will have discovered some truths about oneself. No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.
—from Mere Christianity

1914 Lewis (age fifteen) is sent to William T. Kirkpatrick at Great Bookham, Surrey, to be tutored by him until March 1917. Kirkpatrick becomes the most influential teacher in Lewis's education.

1955 Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

September 19

The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head (20:29).

A famous ball player reflected over a highly successful career. He had been a feared hitter, and no one challenged his throwing arm from the field. He was well-muscled and a fine athlete. He quit playing while he was still doing well, and it was a decision he felt good about the rest of his life. When he had gotten old, he still had fine memories of his glory days, but that wasn't all he had. He had seen too many players who lived in their own pasts, and that was sad. He had used his time well, had made good investments, developed other interests, and he enjoyed a full and active life as a senior citizen. His strength had faded, his athletic days were behind him, but he had his mind, and no one could take that away from him.

Often we judge younger men by their physical abilities, while we judge older men by their wisdom. Age brings with it certain limitations, but it also gives certain strengths. Experience gives us a perspective on life that we can obtain no other way than by growing older. The aged in our world have a wonderful legacy to offer us in the form of their experience and observations. They have walked a road that we are only beginning. Through their words, we may come to know the traps which lie along the way, and they can help us over them, if we will only let them.

prayer: Lord, let me respect those who have lived longer than I have. Open my heart to their instruction, and let me revere them the same way that I revere you. Amen.
20 September

Not Really So Bad

Screwtape offers more techniques for confusing the Patient:
I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for disappointment. Of course if they do—if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge-player or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner—then your task is so much the easier. All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question 'If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?' You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is! Handle him properly and it simply won't come into his head. He has not been anything like long enough with the Enemy to have any real humility yet. What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy's ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these 'smug', commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1926 Dymer is published by J. M. Dent, London, under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton.

1942 Lewis delivers the first of nine talks on "Christian Behavior" over BBC. These talks are later expanded and become Book 3 of Mere Christianity.

September 20

The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly (20:30).

A woman noticed a large red patch on her leg where she had been stung by a bee. Thinking little of it, she ignored the sting, until two days later her leg had swelled to twice its normal size and the red patch had begun to spread. She went to the hospital, and they rushed her into an operating room, where the leg was pierced and the infection was drained from her leg. The afflicted area was cut away, and the leg returned to normal within a few days, the wound healing within a few weeks.

Often, the only way to heal is to hurt. Operations shock the body, but the corruption must be cut from the sore or no healing will occur at all. The same is true of human beings in their relationship with God. God demands purity, and all corruption will be cut away to insure wholeness. There is no place for evil in the body of Christ. If evil is found, drastic measures will be taken, and like a cancer, it will be removed. God will act as a skillful surgeon, cutting and putting back together again. What will be left will be better than new, and the body of Christ will be healthy for all eternity. Healing can occur no other way, but the Lord will be faithful to save as much as He possibly can.

prayer: Father, cut away all that is wrong in me. Though it might hurt, I would rather be able to heal than to sit and die in my corruption. Excise evil from my heart, and heal me in your tender love. Amen.
21 September

Lessons from Practising Christian Virtues

The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practice the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had set us a sort of exam. and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain—any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debt so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side—that has to be wiped out.
I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam. or a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam. or putting Him in your debt.
Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to his father and saying, "Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present." Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction.
—from Mere Christianity

September 21

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts (21:2).

Timidly, the man walked up to the pearly gates and cleared his throat. St. Peter peered at him from a high stool. Without a word, he pointed the man through a huge door, and inside was a throne. The man walked to the throne and said, "I'm ready for heaven, sir."

"What makes you think so?" a voice asked.

"Well, sir, I gave to the poor, I went to church, I never cheated on my wife, I didn't drink, and I prayed twice a day."

"You mean, you got tax deductions, you wanted people to think highly of you, you were afraid you'd get caught, you were allergic to alcohol, and you said grace before meals, don't you?"

"I was hoping you wouldn't know the difference," said the man.

Not only are our actions important, but our reasons for them are important too. God sees us not as we appear to be, but as we really are. He knows every motivation for every move we make. We can't kid God, and we shouldn't try to. We may think we are doing alright if we do the things God asks, but more importantly, we need to do what He asks for the right reasons.

prayer: Eternal God, search the depths of my heart to see if I am doing all I can for the right reasons. Lead me to new ways of serving you. Help me to see what is lacking in my life, and support me as I try to change. Amen.
22 September

Like the Spokes of a Wheel

What God cares about is not exactly our actions. What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind or quality—the kind of creatures He intended us to be—creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add 'and related to one another in a certain way', because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another. And as long as a man is thinking of God as an examiner who has set him a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain—as long as he is thinking of claims and counter-claims between himself and God—he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy.
When I say 'discovered', I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion. Of course, any child, if given a certain kind of religious education, will soon learn to say that we have nothing to offer to God that is not already His own and that we find ourselves failing to offer even that without keeping something back. But I am talking of really discovering this: really finding out by experience that it is true.
—from Mere Christianity

September 22

To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (21:3).

Two women chose to serve the Lord. One woman lived in a large house with a swimming pool and a maid. She lounged all day in the comforts of her beautiful home, but each month she sent a generous check to a local church. She specifically designated that her money be used to help poor children wherever they could be found. The other woman joined a mission team and she traveled to some of the poorest areas to dwell with the children and to work to improve their living conditions. She fought for the people, and she grew to love and care for them. Each woman served the Lord. Each did great good. Still, we are called to give all that we can. When we give from our excesses, we sacrifice little, and we do nothing to bring justice and equality to the world. When we give of ourselves, however, we are giving the love of God as He has given it to us. We are avoiding judgment by giving everything we have to the service of God. Our sacrifice is complete, but we are offering up much more than a gift. We are giving our life for others, as Christ gave His life for us, and thus we are becoming the justice of God on our earth right now.

prayer: Lord, if I give things, I give very little, but if I give myself, then I have given everything. Help me to turn my life over to you. Take me and make me the person that you need me to be. Lead me to the place I need to be to do the most I can. Amen.
23 September

Leaving It to God

Now we cannot .... discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then falling). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.' Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, 'Have I reached that moment?' Do not sit down and start watching your own mind to see if it is coming along. That puts a man quite on the wrong track. When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, 'Hullo! I'm growing up.' It is often only when he looks back that he realises what has happened and recognises it as what people call 'growing up'. You can see it even in simple matters. A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake. As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to every one in a sudden flash—as it did to St Paul or Bunyan: it may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular hour or even a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.
—from Mere Christianity

1938 Out of the Silent Planet (the first volume of his Lewis's Space Trilogy) is published by The Bodley Head, London.

September 23

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard (21:13).

"Will you please turn that off? I can't stand seeing those little babies with their stomachs all stuck out and flies all over their faces. It makes me sick. I don't want to have to look at that junk, and listen to those whining people beg me for money. It's all they do. I get tired of everyone trying to spend my money for me.

How different might that person sound if he were on the other end? One of the easiest things we can do is to take a moment to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. Whenever we see someone suffer, our hearts should go out to them. We should not just see a child in pain, but we should see Christ in pain. Our Lord, Jesus Christ is a part of all creation. When we see people starve, we must remember His words, "Inasmuch as yet did it not (offer aid) to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." We have been called to love one another as we love ourselves, and to love each other as if we were loving God. To do less is to ignore the command of God, and to stray into sin. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters. If we ignore the pleas of those in need right now, then one day we will have to face the sad reality that our Father in heaven will not hear our own cry when we cry to Him.

prayer: Break through the hardness that exists around my heart. Open my ears to the cries of the poor, and open my eyes to the plight of the needy. Remind me to put myself in their place, and let me act accordingly. Amen.
24 September

A First Faint Gleam of Heaven

I know the words 'leave it to God' can be misunderstood, but they must stay for the moment. The sense in which a Christian leaves it to God is that he puts all his trust in Christ: trusts that Christ will somehow share with him the perfect human obedience which He carried out from His birth to his crucifixion: that Christ will make the man more like Himself and, in a sense, make good his deficiencies. In Christian language, He will share His 'sonship' with us, will make us, like Himself, 'Sons of God'. .... If you like to put it that way, Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer. But the difficulty is to reach the point of recognising that all we have done and can do is nothing. What we should have liked would be for God to count our good points and ignore our bad ones. Again, in a sense, you may say that no temptation is ever overcome until we stop trying to overcome it—throw up the sponge. But then you could not 'stop trying' in the right way and for the right reason until you had tried your very hardest. And, in yet another sense, handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying. To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.
—from Mere Christianity

1952 Lewis meets Joy Gresham for the first time, over lunch at the Eastgate Hotel, Oxford.

September 24

It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity (21:15).

A hush fell over the courtroom. One of the most powerful men in the community had been accused of ignoring federal safety standards. The trial had gone slowly, and there was fear that the executive might somehow buy the judge's favor. It was common knowledge that the man had sent many fine gifts to the judge. It was also known that the judge had returned them all. Now he stood to deliver the verdict, and long months of argument were about to come to an end.

"There comes a time when spoiled children have to answer for the mischief they cause. No one should get away with what is unlawful, especially those who think they can control every situation with the almighty dollar. Money doesn't buy truth, and it cannot stop justice. When something is wrong, it is wrong for everyone, rich or poor. This court finds the defendant guilty of criminal negligence and orders full compliance with the law, and full restitution to those injured parties."

When justice is done, it gives people faith that good really will win out over evil. We need to have hope that everything will be just fine. God has promised that His justice will rule eternally, and we need have no fear that God will allow evil a place in His Kingdom. Only the just will dwell with God.

prayer: Lord, I want to be found blameless in your sight. Forgive me my many sins, and allow me to join with you to rejoice in what is right, and fight that which is wrong. Strengthen my will to do good, Father. Amen.
25 September

Faith or Works

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of the Faith in Him good actions must inevitably come. There are two parodies of the truth which different sets of Christians have, in the past, been accused by other Christians of believing: perhaps they may make the truth clearer. One set were accused of saying, 'good actions are all that matters. The best good action is charity. The best kind of charity is giving money. The best thing to give money to is the Church. So hand us over £10,000 and we will see you through.' The answer to that nonsense, of course, would be that good actions done for that motive, done with the idea that Heaven can be bought, would not be good actions at all, but only commercial speculations. The other set were accused of saying, 'Faith is all that matters. consequently, if you have faith, it doesn't matter what you do. Sin away, my lad, and have a good time and Christ will see that it makes no difference in the end.' The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call your 'faith' in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all—not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about him.
—from Mere Christianity

1929 Lewis's father, Albert, dies at age sixty-six.

September 25

He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich (21:17).

It was his first real job. He was making a good salary, and he could now afford to live in style. He decorated his apartment, threw fantastic parties, and stayed out all night on the weekends seeking new and different thrills. He moved into the fast lane, and spent money as fast as he could earn it. He had never done so much before in his life. He bought all the things he'd ever wanted, and many things he'd never dreamed of. He traveled and bought expensive gifts for his friends. Everything was as good as it could possibly be. Until he was fired.

He had never believed his party could come to an end, but his lifestyle intruded on his work, and it led to his firing. Now he had nothing. No savings, no support, and no way to pay bills. His dream come true turned into a nightmare. He felt sick.

When we live for fun and self-indulgence, we live for nothing lasting at all. Our lives need meaning. They need a foundation. They need God. If we devote ourselves to Him, then we don't have time for frivolous endeavors which cause us to be selfish and wasteful. God will help us to live wisely and prudently. He will help us to know what is right and what is wrong. He will be faithful to do all of this, if we will only consent to put our trust in Him.

prayer: I do want to put my faith in you, God. I know that on my own I will give in to temptations which are selfish and foolish. Protect me from myself, O Lord. Guide me in the paths of what is right and good. Amen.
26 September

God in Tandem

The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, 'Work out your own salvation with feat and trembling'—which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, 'For it is God who worketh in you'—which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. I am afraid that is the sort of thing we come up against in Christianity. I am puzzled, but I am not surprised. You see, we are not trying to understand, and to separate into water-tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together. And, of course, we begin by thinking it is like two men working together, so that you could say, 'He did this bit and I did that.' But this way of thinking breaks down. God is not like that. He is inside you as well as outside: even if we could understand who did what, I do not think human language could properly express it. In the attempt to express it different Churches say different things. But you will find that even those who insist most strongly on the importance of good actions tell you you need Faith; and even those who insist most strongly on Faith tell you to do good actions.
—from Mere Christianity

September 26

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (21:19).

He felt so lonely. He was surrounded by people, but he still felt very much alone. No one understood him. He was pressured at work, his children were strangers to him, he had no social life, and his home felt more like a prison than a haven of comfort and a fortress against the world. He knew that when he got home, he would be assaulted with insults about his abilities, curses heaped on him about his meager pay, and derogatory comments about his manhood. His wife had once shown him nothing but love. She had stood by him through every bad situation, but that had all ended. His lack of advancement at work and a series of physical ailments had caused her to lose faith in him. She no longer saw him as such a great prize, and she took great delight in letting him know it. He often thought of running away, but he knew that was no solution. Resignedly, he headed for home.

We have been created with a need for companionship and affection, but it is better to remain alone than to dwell with people who take pleasure in hurting us. God wants us to do everything in our power to give each other love. He cries for us when we are mistreated and abused. His mercy goes forth to those who are alone, and His blessing awaits those who shower their love freely on others.

prayer: Make me a love-giver, Lord. Help me to watch what I say and do, so that I do not hurt those around me. Bring me from the wilderness of selfishness and pettiness, that I might help those who need it most. Amen.
27 September

Follow Thou Me

There are questions at issue between Christians to which I do not think we have been told the answer. There are some to which I may never know the answer: if I asked them, even in a better world, I might (for all I know) be answered as a far greater questioner was answered: 'What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.'
—from Mere Christianity, Preface

September 27

A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof (21:22).

Long ago, a society built for itself many weapons, and a great wall around their city to protect them. They formed a massive army, and they moved out into the world with the hope of conquering it. They fought with anyone who tried to stop them, and their empire grew. They came to a people, however, who did not arm themselves with any weapons, yet they refused to yield to the powerful war culture. They claimed that they were strong by their faith in God, and that He was the only protection they needed. The army battled them and scattered them into foreign lands. Time passed, and the warring nation fell, leaving no remnant behind. The people of God reunited, and they were strong.

The people of God have never been defeated. Great empires and armies have come and gone, but none have lasted as long as the people who follow God. All else is refuse in comparison with the Lord. Mighty cities will rise, but they will crumble long before the Lord comes to reward His faithful ones. No army comes close to the might of God, and the greatest empire is not bigger than a speck of the love of God. His might endures forever, and His love shines brighter than the sun. Our hope should always be in the Lord, and in Him alone.

prayer: My hope and trust is in you, Almighty God. Only you are God. Nothing else even comes close. There is nothing so mighty, nothing so good as you, O Lord. Be with me always. Amen.
28 September

Fantasy Virtues

Screwtape offers a helpful image:
Think of your man as a series of concentric circles, his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope, at once, to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of the Enemy: but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the Will. It is only in so far as they reach the Will and are there embodied in habits that the virtues are really fatal to us. (I don't, of course, mean what the patient mistakes for his Will, the conscious fume and fret of resolutions and clenched teeth, but the real centre, what the Enemy calls the Heart.) All sorts of virtues painted in the fantasy or approved by the intellect or even, in some measure, loved and admired, will not keep a man from Our Father's house: indeed they may make him more amusing when he gets there.
—from The Screwtape Letters

1931 Lewis returns to a belief "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" while riding to Whipsnade Zoo in the sidecar of brother Warren's motorcycle.

September 28

He coveteth greedily all the day long; but the righteous giveth and spareth not (21:26).

His vow had been that when he made it big, he was going to help people like the ones he had grown up around. They had been poor mining people in closed mining towns, and they had small hope for anything but a dismal future. He remembered his vow while he was climbing, but every time he thought of using any of his wealth to help them, he balked. The only way to make money was to invest money, he told himself. The more he made, the more he would be able to give. He never gave. He could never let go of any of his wealth for even a short time. No amount was enough. He could have given a million dollars to the town and never missed it, but the bug had bitten, and greed was the ruling force in his life. He died financially rich, but spiritually and morally poor. All his good intentions went to the grave with him, and the people who so desperately could have used his help found none.

God has blessed us with riches for one reason. It is not because we are deserving, or because He is rewarding us, it is simply that we might give it to others who need it more than we do. Giving is the heart of a Christian. We should take every opportunity that comes our way to give of our time, talents, and resources. God blesses the giver, both in this life, and the eternal life to come.

prayer: Take from me the spirit to covet and hold. Open my heart and my mind to the needs that I can do something to fill. I give to you everything that I have and everything that I am. Use me as you see fit. Amen.
29 September

Where Is God?

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:
Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'
—from "A Grief Observed"

1961 A Grief Observed is published by Faber and Faber, London, under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk.

September 29

There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord (21:30).

Lucifer, the most perfect of all of God's creation looked to place himself on the same level as God. He wanted to be worshipped for his perfection, a