There’s a sign in my room, crafted of pallet wood and paint. A few inches wide and an arm’s length long. Though unassuming in design, its message carries great weight in my day-to-day. You see, it sits atop a high ledge, this sign, positioned precisely along my line of sight whenever I’m resting in bed. Often, its message fills my last gaze before drifting off to dreams and it’s my first sight when I rise.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis
The creator of Narnia and apologetic masterpieces, C.S. Lewis was a man familiar with sorrow, acquainted with grappling life circumstances against the Scriptures. He did not shy away from hard things nor did he minimize struggles to match up to cultural norms. A scholar at Oxford and Cambridge, Lewis was considered among the academic elite of his day. He firmly held to atheistic views, such as those summarized by Lucretius: “Had God designed the world, it would not be a world so frail and faulty as we see.” Yet in his pursuit of understanding the world around him, wrestling his experiences with pain and suffering against the theology of the Bible, Lewis became a “reluctant convert”, finding the God of the Scriptures ultimately irresistible.
“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen [College, Oxford], 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.” (Excerpt from Lewis’ Surprised By Joy)
Much has been written of this remarkable man’s life, as indeed much has been scribed by his own pen. He holds my respect, this brilliant mind who only ever believed that which he fully wrestled with until he could find it irrefutable. His stories of a magical Wardrobe filled my childhood as his weightier works continue to challenge and inspire my adult perspectives on life and faith. A library surely is incomplete without the full works from this extraordinary scholar.
This man, well versed in sorrows spanning world wars and personal losses of illness and death, determined that even in the face of such surmounting pains, hope towards the future could still exist. It echoes the Psalmist’s resolution, “Surely I would have despaired had I not been convinced I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
If the Psalmist could still hold fast to hope while running for his life from the one who swore to elevate it, if Lewis could hold firmly to believing in brighter days ahead even while walking seasons tangibly dark with pain, then so can you, so can I.
A dear friend gave me his quote on a gray painted pallet board during a time of dark clouds abounding in my life, and I will always be grateful for her kindness. May we all wake with this reassurance and each night, lie down knowing it to still be true: indeed, “there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” It’s often been a timely reminder for me. Perhaps, you need to hear it too.
Eyes on the horizon, dear ones. Brighter days are surely still yet ahead.