There are times one must simply cut through the haze of muddled thinking. Or have someone help us do it. C. S. Lewis has long been a guide for me through such fog. In his sermon, “A Slip of the Tongue” (found in The Weight of Glory and the last one he preached) Lewis said:
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.
That is, I take it, the meaning of all those sayings that alarm me most. Thomas More said, “If ye make indentures with God how much ye will serve Him, ye shall find ye have signed both of them yourself.” Law, in his terrible, cool voice, said, “Many will be rejected at the last day, not because they have taken time and pains about their salvation, but because they have not taken time and pains enough”; and later, in his richer, Behmenite period, “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?
No, it doesn’t matter at all. To die of thirst when the well was at hand is – no matter what other place you vainly sought for water – a tragedy. And one about which Jesus pleads with us. As the Lord said in Mark 8:34-36:
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Which, of course, are really the words that cut through it.