Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
– Mark 1:35
“I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, this fatal reservation. Only God can. I have good faith and hope He will. Of course, I don’t mean that I can therefore, as they say, ‘sit back.’ What God does for us, He does in us. The process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude, especially in the morning, for it grows all over me like a new shell each night. Failure will not be forgiven; it is acquiescence that is fatal, the permitted, regularized presence of an area in ourselves which we still claim for our own. We may never, this side of death, drive the invader out of our territory, but we must be in the resistance, not in the Vichy government. And this, as far as I can yet see, must be begun again every day. Out morning prayer should be that in the Imitation [of Christ, Thomas a Kempis]: Da hodie perfecte incipere – grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet.
– C. S. Lewis, ‘A Slip of the Tongue’, essay in The Weight of Glory and other addresses
This is just a short note. C. S. Lewis packs so much into the last paragraph of this essay.
We cannot sit back. We must press on. Press on in telling others about Jesus. Press on in growing closer to Jesus. Press on in a world that is against us and growing more and more hostile.
We must be part of the resistance, not the Vichy government. His reference is to the area in southern France where a puppet government was created during World War II. The Vichy negotiated a lopsided peace with an evil dictator. They caved in instead of resisting. We must fight evil and resist the allure of sitting back and relaxing.
We might have that one area of our lives that we tenaciously clutch as being our own, but we need to realize that once God comes into our lives, we are a new creation. That portion of our old life to which we cling is not really us anymore. Its value is nothing compared to the brightness of glory ahead. Yet, we struggle the daily struggle, or hourly.
Yes, C. S. Lewis even brings up hourly. With my wife’s and my schedule getting hectic lately, my morning devotions and prayers remain stable, but the evening devotions seem more scattered. Sometimes, I will read a devotion around mid-afternoon, and another after the evening meal. That leaves only one just before bedtime. If not, I get busy in the afternoon, which spills into the evening, and my mind is too muddled to get anything out of the speedy bedtime devotions – speedy due to fatigue.
I guess that may be due to the corollary of the Lewis’ addition to the a Kempis quote. By the time we’ve gone to bed, we have done a lot. Some things need to be confessed and others need to be lifted as praise to God. We had no successes on our own. As Lewis says in the quote above, it is God in us. God does it for us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.