As I read the short commentary on C.S. Lewis’s life by Perry Bramlett, I found myself making vows and plans to be a better Christian. I saw myself as a Christian failure in comparison to C.S. Lewis.
I read that C.S. Lewis rose early to pray and didn’t like to pray at night because he felt he was too sleepy to do it justice. He also like to pray scripture, adding his own “festoons” to make the text more personal to his own heart. For example, he would pray “hallowed be thy name” and add “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” This chapter about C.S. Lewis’s prayer life made me want to be more fastidious about my own prayer life, and I vowed to try his methods of prayer.
Then I read how C.S. Lewis read a bit of his Bible every day, and I looked guiltily at my unopened Bible. I made a vow to get back on track with reading something every day.
The next part of his life that I read was how C.S. Lewis was a great friend. Dagger to my heart. He spent nearly all of his free time with friends, and he scheduled regular times to meet with each of his friends. He even answered every letter that anyone sent him, friend or stranger.
As I concluded the book feeling beaten and worthless, Perry Bramlett, the author, began commenting on his own journey to the land of C.S. Lewis and what he had learned studying Lewis’s life. He said, “In retrospect, I know now that I was a very poor student of C.S. Lewis (and probably of the Scriptures)” That’s exactly how I was feeling after only reading a mere 72 pages about C.S. Lewis’s spiritual life. He followed that statement by immediately saying:
“Lewis’s ‘life at the center’ was a gift from God, a gift of grace. God gave Jack the vehicles of prayer, the Bible, and good friendships to help him become a little more like God’s son, who is the Christ. Lewis came to know that this takes time, constant obedience, and perseverance; for him, it took a whole lifetime. He also knew that ‘being spiritual’ is not a ‘happening’ or an ‘event.’ He knew from long experience that he could never be so presumptuous as to try to ‘plan’ spirituality.“ (C.S. Lewis: Life at the Center by Perry Bramlett)
I let out all of the air and tension I was holding in. How true and freeing were those words. I will never have C.S. Lewis’s relationship with God nor will my spiritual life look similar because I am not C.S. Lewis. Both of those are personal between me and God. God will reveal to me the inconsistencies of my heart and help me to grow in him. Bramlett also points out that this journey took Lewis an entire life. The parts of the book that I ignored were the parts where Lewis struggled with his faith and almost abandoned it. That last statement is particularly poignant; I can’t plan my spirituality. I have to let God lead my growth.