I took C.S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms on our trip to Key West, Florida. We had been consumed with the tumult and tragedy of foster care for the months preceding and I was struggling with the reality that people who claim to follow Christ did not actually seem to know the first thing about Christ. We had spent months encircled by a system full of people who said they were concerned for children, who seemed merciful but were in fact more concerned about many other things that were at odds with the welfare of the children they asked us to care for. I had read the Psalms over and over during those hard days. They sustained me during my most difficult hours. I don’t know exactly how I became aware of this book, but I was drawn to it because C.S. Lewis has spoken to me over the years in a way that made me more free and that is unique in Christian literature. Little did I know that I was beginning a year of serious questioning and searching, and this book would be the first steps I would take toward answering some hard questions. Questions that would lead me to a stronger and bolder faith or to abandon the faith altogether.
The main question I have been asking as a reader this year is: What is the nature of salvation? What does it actually mean when someone says they are “saved”? I ask having grown up marinated in churchy words and insincere actions. It feels so often that “being saved” is about the final trajectory of your soul when it leaves this orbit but has very little impact on your daily rotation. And I wonder if we should be more concerned with the daily orientation of our lives and trust that eternity will be and has already been worked out by a God who is entirely trustworthy.
At that moment, in a cabana in Key West, I was revisiting the injustice of the year we spent in foster care added to so many years in Christian circles populated with bad people. Sometimes those people were even standing behind pulpits and teaching Sunday school classes. Were they “saved”? “Saved” from what? Because the people I lived among were more concerned with the power that religion gave them. Sometimes that power fed their greed for total approval and other times the desire to dictate what others should and should not do or drink or wear or read. They did not seem saved from anything, in fact they were defending the totalitarian reign of the White Witch of Narnia. They were very comfortable in the cold and the freedom of a spring thaw was terrifying to them. How could these people be convinced that their fight was God’s fight?
I highlighted and reread. I devoured this book and it began to rewire my brain and I took a step closer to the answers I was seeking. My soul was fragile and beginning to fray in places, but God began to mend me here. Weaving the answers I had craved for years into the healing that will most likely take the rest of my life. A healing that will culminate in the salvation of my soul. A healing that will correct my theology of God and make me more free, more hopeful, more devoted to what is true, good and lovely.
There are many, many quotes that I highlighted from this book, A Reflection on the Psalms. Too many to share them all, but I will share these two that answered the burning questions of the moment.
How can wicked people claim to know God and even claim to speak for God?
How can knowing God be boiled down to a list of things to do?
Please tell me the best C.S. Lewis book you have read or the one you will read next.
You can read more about our trip to Key West in these posts:
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