A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character: the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, then no possible external conditions could make a ‘Heaven’ for them – that is, could make them happy with the deep, strong, un-shakable kind of happiness God intends for you (p. 81).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Am I prepared to enjoy Heaven? When I take away the presumed “yes,” then this question is quite startling. I might be the kind of person for whom Heaven would be miserable or, at best, boring. Heaven might be an acquired taste that only those who have been transformed by God can enjoy.
Considering this question for a moment has made me realize how self-centeredly I have thought about Heaven. Honestly, I have always thought of it as my Heaven more than God’s Heaven. I thought of it as an eternal playground built for my preferences and specifications. I thought of it as a place where “my will be done” was the guiding force.
Unless that changes, my Heaven might actually be Hell (C.S. Lewis fully develops this theme in his book The Great Divorce). Unless my way of thinking were renewed ,then my dreams come true would be so inherently contradictory, consuming, exhausting, disappointing, or otherwise damaging that if I had to live with them for eternity it would be torturous.
This reveals another dimension of my depravity: I am unable to enduringly desire and enjoy God’s goodness apart from His grace. This should humble me greatly, but not necessarily in the sense of shame (which is not really humility at all). It should humble me when I disgruntedly try to tell God He has not been good.
Discontentment is predicated on the assumption that I know (or get to define) what is truly good. If C.S. Lewis is right about Heaven, then discontentment is not only wrong but foolish. I am much more like my 4 year old who wants to only eat marshmallows for every meal than I cared to admit. I think I know what happiness (Heaven) is and am offended by anyone (even God) who would tell me differently.
If I truly believed this, I would pray differently. I would ask more questions and seek more guidance while making fewer petitions. Not that petitions are bad, but my petition-to-question ratio displays a confidence that I know what I am asking for and how it should be defined.
I pray, “Lord, help me lead a healthy family” assuming I know what “good” is and what “lead” means. It might do me more good (in terms of refining my character, not altering God’s willingness to answer) to pray, “Lord, show me more of what a good family is and how you would have a husband to lead one.” With that prayer, I am allowing God to define Heaven and lead me into it rather than verbally drawing the dots and asking God to connect them.
This view of Heaven excites me more than my previous perspective. This understanding reveals how Heaven can truly be “better than I imagined” because my imagination is not yet prepared to ask for Heaven. But as God continues to refine me I will see more clearly through a dim glass and those things that I want will be in line with the eternally satisfying place God has prepared for His children.