I'm joining Angela and a gaggle of other fine folks for a Pause in Advent.
By accident I have stumbled on a wonderful book for my Advent reading: C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath. I've read one other Lewis biography and have read and re-read Surprised by Joy, so I was excited to discover this relatively new look at Lewis's life. I find him to be a hugely sympathetic figure, in part because he's one of those Christians who stays ever-mindful of his own wretchedness, and I find that comforting.
I'm a wretch; are you? I'm prideful, ambitious, judgmental. I hold a grudge. I am in many ways a thoroughly crappy human being. Those of you who know me in person might think I'm being hard on myself, but I'm not. I have my good moments, and I have good manners, and I do genuinely like and love a lot of people, which probably makes them think more highly of me than they should.
Here's a quote from the book that had me nodding: "One of the major themes of Till We Have Faces (1956)--arguably the most profound piece of fiction written by Lewis--is the difficulty of coming to know ourselves as we really are, and the deep pain that such knowledge ultimately involves."
It's a horrible thing to really look at yourself--to look beyond the carefully constructed facade and the blue ribbons and the perfectly organized pantry, the shiny resume, the A+ report card. I try not to do it very often. But something has happened in the last six months. I am finding myself completely unimpressive, and while it's kind of a bummer, I also recognize it as a good thing.
God comes to us in the form of a baby born to a poor woman. God comes to us in the most deeply humble way one can imagine. I think to appreciate such a god, we have to also appreciate our own humble state, our own poverty. If you worship power and status, you're not going to worship a god who seems to have no interest in who has the most toys or guns or money.
But if you understand that your poverty is no different from that of the tax collector or the prostitute or the leper, then you might be happy for the birth of a savior who finds you--wretched, messed up you--worthy of redemption.