How do we act when our feelings for God are gone? Do we not sit mourning over their loss? Or worse, make frantic efforts to rouse them? Or, ten times worse, relapse into a state of temporary atheism, and yield to the pressing temptation? Are we conscious of evil thoughts, but too lazy to rouse ourselves against them? We know we must get rid of them someday, but meantime—never mind. No impulse comes to arouse us, and so we remain as we are.
God does not, by the instant gift of his Spirit, make us always desire good, love purity, and aspire after him and his will. He wants to make us in his own image, choosing the good, refusing the evil. How should he effect this if he were always moving us from within, as he does at divine intervals, towards the beauty of holiness? God gives us room to be, that we may act of ourselves, that we may exercise the pure will for good. Do not, therefore, imagine me to mean that we can do anything of ourselves without God. If we choose the right at last, it is all God’s doing, and only the more his that it is ours, only in a far more marvelous way his than if he had kept us filled with holy impulses precluding the need for choice.
Self-Knowledge and Ponies
by Diane Adams
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be.”
My earliest memory is of a pony I called Blackie. I was 3, and she was all mine. I was in the backyard when she came up to me. We were alone. She rubbed her sweet, dirt-wet muzzle into my hand, nudging for food. I ran my hands over her mane, her back, her legs. I remember the smell of her--dusty and grassy and some sweet sort of something that only belongs to ponies. I hugged her neck, and was transported into ecstasy--no longer myself, but something greater, more free and true.
Blackie took over me from me. She overwhelmed me with her pure ponyness and her silky dark hair. With her, I was for the first time perhaps, truly myself. Not the child of so and so, or the person called ‘Diane’; I was a pure being who loved another pure being, and we were the whole world. It was a self-transcendent experience. I lost myself in Blackie and experienced my first sense of independence.
It is part of the continual paradox between the world and the life of God that whatever we generally and at first assume to be true is very nearly always, in actual fact, the exact opposite. So it is with independence and submission. To lose ourselves in God is the ultimate experience of self, the truest sense of being is found there, where we meet perfect love and boundless joy, outside the mind.
The experience of independence inside the self brings misery because the self is always bound by itself, contained by our own limited understanding. Self-transcendence brings true self-knowledge--the freedom to be who we are. Unfortunately, these experiences are not something we can conjure up when we need a shot of true being.
We have to wade through the dull days and endless routines to get to them, and they are fleeting when we do. But it is enough to know they are there, calling to us from the deepest part of ourselves, encouraging us to walk when the road is lonely, cold, and visionless. We have heard part of a secret, touched a pony in the backyard and felt part of a mystery. God takes us from ourselves and gives us back to ourselves, far greater than we once were.