As a preacher, I often find myself profoundly impacted by the biblical theme of a sermon that it continues to impress upon me even into the following week. This last Sunday at LifeBridge we talked about Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-19, a passage illustrating Jesus directing our mission. Just today I came across another conversion story from a familiar name that I just had to share – the story of C.S. Lewis. In his autobiographical book Surprised by Joy he describes his conversion experience with the following words:
[su_quote]You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 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.
I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?… The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.[/su_quote]
In Lewis’s story, we see how the “Hound of Heaven” pursued him even when Lewis “fled him”. Consider again the love in Christ’s pursuit of you with the words italicized above. The poem “Hound of Heaven” ends with these words: “Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.” Translation – you drive away love from yourself when you drive away Jesus. Love finds its purest expression in Jesus’ work on the cross and his unrelenting pursuit of you. Such love should leave us in awe.
Just as Jesus was directing the mission of the early church with the conversion of Saul, he was directing the mission of the church in the 2oth century with the conversion of C.S. Lewis, and he is still directing the mission of the church today here in Burlington and around the world. I can’t wait to see the next person Jesus saves to help change the world with the gospel. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s a person you will have the privilege of sharing Jesus with!