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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