Internal dichotomy of dealing with Sin and receiving Solace: “You cannot have it both ways.”

ThePilgrim'sRegressBookcoverI missed this rather incredible portion the first time or two around.

John is close to the end of his Journey; a journey physical, mental, and spiritual. All the experiences, refinements, inputs and guidance; good, bad, evil, senseless, sound, are culminating into a true realization of the nature and person of “The Landlord” and his relationship to Him. It finally takes just one more bit of input, a tiny catalyst of truth for it to crystallize into true, profound, and complete knowledge.

He had been willing to trust God to aid him when he cried out for help, but not to trust Him enough to surrender control.

How like that we all are. We cannot have it both ways.

For a while he went on cautiously, but he was haunted by a picture in his mind of a place where the path would break off short when it was too dark for him to see, and he would step on air. This fear made him halt more and more frequently to examine his ground: and when he went on it was each time more slowly: till at last he came to a standstill. There seemed to be nothing for it but to rest where he was. The night was warm, but he was both hungry and thirsty. And he sat down. It was quite dark now.

Then I dreamed that once more a Man came to him in the darkness and said, ‘You must pass the night where you are, but I have brought you a loaf and if you crawl along the ledge ten paces more you will find that a little fall of water comes down the cliff.’

‘Sir,’ said John. ‘I do not know your name and I cannot see your face, but I thank you. Will you not sit down and eat, yourself?’

‘I am full and not hungry,’ said the Man. ‘And I will pass on. But one word before I go. You cannot have it both ways.’

‘What do you mean, sir?’

‘Your life has been saved all this day by crying out to something which you call by many names, and you have said to yourself that you used metaphors.’

‘Was I wrong, sir?’

‘Perhaps not. But you must play fair. If its help is not a metaphor, neither are its commands. If it can answer when you call, then it can speak without your asking. If you can go to it, it can come to you.’

‘I think I see, sir. You mean that I am not my own man: in some sense I have a Landlord after all?’

“Even so. But what is it that dismays you? You heard from Wisdom how the rules were yours and not yours. Did you not mean to keep them? And if so, can it scare you to know that there is one who will make you able to keep them?’

‘Well,’ said John, ‘I suppose you have found me out. Perhaps I did not fully mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your finger, sir. You know when you set about taking it out yourself — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but somehow it is not very serious business — well, I suppose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very different thing to hold your hand out to a surgeon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

The Man laughed. ‘I see you understand me very well,’ He said, ‘but the great thing is to get the thorn out.’. And then He went away.

— Clive Staples Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress [emphasis mine]

‘I suppose you have found me out. Perhaps I did not fully mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your finger, sir. You know when you set about taking it out yourself — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but somehow it is not very serious business — well, I suppose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very different thing to hold your hand out to a surgeon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

I need to make this gel and cohere in my own life and figure out how to move forward positively in such a way as to have it always affect my thinking and doing. This applies to so many of my own personal struggles. I am determined to rely on my own gumption and understanding to overcome my vices and addictions because I don’t want to give over control to the surgeon. I want to retain the ability to stop if I chose. I know friends in their same own lonely, lamely listing coracle in an endless sea.

The portion If its help is not a metaphor, neither are its commands., serves as absolute conviction of prosperity gospel and the social gospel I’ve heard preached in post-modern churches. You cannot preach a wonderful happy warm-fuzzy God who wants you to have joy and peace and happiness w/o also acknowledging that this selfsame God has also made requirements of us. Imperatives we cannot ignore. We cannot have it both ways.

Originally posted to Facebook July 27, 2011 at 3:43pm

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