The Great Divorce

“It is nearer to such as you than ye think. There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organiser of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all the snares.”
CS Lewis – The Great Divorce
September has come to be a very hard month. Two years ago, I watched the unfolding of a national tragedy. Last year, my grandfather finally cashed in his chips and decided he was done hanging out on this earth anymore. Truth be told, I think we all knew my grandfather’s heart was eventually going to give out, so we were all prepared and braced for it. When it happened, it was sorrow, but it was also an acceptance of inevitability

But no one in our family was prepared for the night of September 11, 2003 (that date sure isn’t winning any awards for “memorable dates” is it?) when my aunt passed away in her sleep. Her health had been failing her, so no doubt, this was sweet release into the arms of Jesus, but none of us could have expected this.

I’ll miss my aunt. She was quirky in her own way and a trip to her house was a visit into barely controlled chaos. She raised two of her teenage grandchildren and there was always a variety of friends and various pets running around the house like some grand jailbreak. She was always asking us when we would be having children. Being the neat-freak and control-freak that I am, watching the hilarious entropy around her house, I had to bite my toungue when I wanted to say, “Well, if having children leads to THIS….” But anyways.

I loved her greatly, but she also bought into and pushed so many of the things that I have so bitterly opposed in Christian sub-culture… TBN, The Prayer of Jabez, Left Behind, The Omega Code, listening only to Christian music, only Christian radio stations, and on and on. She was an icon on the Christian sub-culture that has frustrated me so and has thwarted so badly our Great Commission of immersing ourselves into this world, not of it, but in it, and being a tangible salt and light. My anger was never directed at her, but I could see all the things she loved that did anger me so.

I was profoundly struck and run over by the short book The Great Divorce by CS Lewis. I’ve been working on his books, about one a month for a few minutes every night before going to bed. I devoured The Great Divorce in a couple days. What struck me most about the book and cut me in two was a stark realizaition of the obvious. There will be those who spend eternity with their Maker and there will be those who have willingly chose and come up with every excuse possible not to. And the excuses are many. And they are everywhere. We are too prideful to bend our knee and accept we have spent our lives chasing after things that give us nothing. We cannot accept that some more evil than us are accepted by God. We cannot bear to spend eternity with a believer we hate. We are satisfied in ourselves and our lazy self-pleasure. The reasons go on and on and painfully, Lewis encounters ghost after ghost in Hell with his own justification and reason, even after death and in the throes of punishment, that he will not accept God’s gift. I was broken in two.

It’s all well and good to argue theology, prove the existance of God, travel to far lands and share the Gospel, but in the end, none of that will save us. My aunt loved Jesus more than anything in the world and desired to follow Him wherever He might lead. She trusted him to be her strength when she was weak (and in her last years, she was weak alot, what a disaster and a blessing it must be to rely on God so) Isn’t that what the definition of a follower of Christ is? Surely, she must be beholding the face of the Christ she so eagerly chased after, despite buying into all the lies of this Earth, like we all have.

Lord help us all and wash away all the things we have so eagerly bought into.

A bus station, in the steam from the rain
In this line of pale strangers, should I go or stay?

The whole field of vision, fades beneath me now
And the houses spread for a million miles in this gray town

And the weight of glory, if you held it in your hand
It would pass right through you, so now’s your chance

Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
In the high countries?

We are just pilgrims of the great divorce
I am witness to the light and I am captive
To my own remorse

And the weight of glory, if you held it in your hand
It would pass right through you, so now’s your chance

You drink the cup to the bottom, but it burns in your hands
The cup was poured out on the Maker instead

Out on the green plains, I am but a ghost
Bound up with all that I call “mine,” still the light grows

Lyrics by Sandra McCracken