Does God control everything?

In the fall of 1931, a bright young scholar named CS Lewis took a ride in a motorcycle side car. The motorcycle was driven by his brother Warnie, and they were headed to the zoo at Whipsnade near Bedfordshire England. It was on that ride that CS Lewis became a convert to Christianity. 

Lewis’ mother had died of cancer when he was 9. At age 14, he had rejected God.  In WWI, he’d been wounded. When he started teaching literature at Oxford in 1925, he was a committed atheist. 

But at Oxford, he realized that the literature that he loved the most came from writers like George Herbert, George McDonald, and G.K. Chesterton, who were all Christians. It was full of beauty and life and imagination. By 1929, he realized that he believed in a general God, but he wasn’t happy about it. He wrote, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

But Lewis could not believe in a personal God. What concerned him was the idea of God sending Jesus to die for our sins. What could that death thousands of years ago mean for our lives today?

It was then that Lewis started having conversations with other Christian professors, J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. One evening they were walking through the college park, talking about mythology until early in the morning. Lewis felt that myths, “though breathed through silver,” were, in the end, just lies. Tolkien suggested that the beauty of Christianity is that it is a myth that happens to be true. That there is a universal hunger planted in human beings by God, evidenced by all the world’s mythologies.

Jesus Christ was the one to whom all the myths were pointing. 

In Jesus Christ, God really did walk the earth, die, and rise again.

Nine days later, Lewis was still thinking about that conversation with Tolkien and Dyson when he got into the side car on the motorcycle driven by his brother. 

Lewis later wrote, “I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken. I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out, I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did.”

It is hard to believe in a God who controls everything, especially when that God is so gracious that he gives up control so that we might freely choose him. But God can use all things to draw us to him.

For Moses, it was a burning bush.

For Paul, it was an encounter on the road to Damascus.

For CS Lewis, God used literature, friends, and a motorcycle ride.

What are the ways God might be using to draw you to him right now? 

More real

In CS Lewis’ classic book, The Great Divorce, people in hell are given a chance to take a bus ride to the outskirts of heaven. As the travelers get off the bus, they’re surprised to find that the blades of grass are like iron.

But it wasn’t that the grass was different in heaven, grass was still grass.

It was the people who were different. They discovered that, all along, they’d been wispy, ghost-like, shadows of their true selves. They were given a second chance to cast off whatever sin had held them back in life and continue their journey. In heaven, they would become their truest and best selves.

In the popular imagination, heaven is a place where people float on clouds, a place where people are less real.

But in Lewis’ imagination, heaven is where we become more real.

The pandemic exposed how wispy we are. We became more fearful, more prone to conspiracy theories.

Jesus Christ was born into the world a real person. You could see him, hold him, smell him. You could feel the scratch of his beard on your cheek when he kissed you.

He changed the name of his friend Simon to “Peter,” saying “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”

Jesus gave us the church to get real.

We only become people of substance through Jesus Christ.