Christian readings and literature that have lifted your spirit.(14 Posts)
I am at a funny kind of crossroads, feeling middle aged, spiritually parched and lacking spiritual direction. A friend gave me 'A year with C.S Lewis and this extract really struck a chord.
'What is more (and I can hardly find the words to tell you how important I think this is) is that the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to more sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills and in some different direction...
But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially they will get weaker and weaker and fewer and fewer and you will become a bored disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle aged men and women maundering about lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them. - from mere Christianity
Have you read anything that has lifted and inspired you, just at the right time?? I am done with maundering already!
I was going to suggest 'Mere Christianity' when I saw the opening of your post, but I see you've already got there
I also rate "Learning to Fall - the blessings of an imperfect life" by Philip Simmons. I picked it up when on retreat years ago, and ended up buying my own copy. It's written by someone with a degenerative disease, but it's not one of those "triumph over adversity" books, which can sometimes seem designed to trivialise other people's problems. He says in the introduction:
"at its deepest levels life is not a problem, but a mystery. The distinction, which I borrow from the philosopher Gabriel Marcel, is fundamental: problems are to be solved, true mysteries are not. Personally, I wish I could have learned this lesson more easily—without, perhaps, having to give up my tennis game. But each of us finds his or her own way to mystery. At one time or another, each of us confronts an experience so powerful, bewildering, joyous, or terrifying that all our efforts to see it as "a problem" are futile. Each of us is brought to the cliff’s edge. At such moments we can either back away in bitterness or confusion, or leap forward into mystery. And what does mystery ask of us? Only that we be in its presence, that we fully, consciously, hand ourselves over. That is all, and that is everything. We can participate in mystery only by letting go of solutions. This letting go is the first lesson of falling, and the hardest."
Polka believe it or not I am new to C.S Lewis, such a pleasure still to be discovered there so I shall definitely be ordering Mere Christianity
'Learning to fall' sounds amazing to, what a wonderful extract thank you. One of the challenges in coming to faith in midlife, is that you don't have that history of walking with God or the bedrock of scripture and teaching, that many people have. Thinking about the future as a mystery, rather than fearing the unknown or even seeking out the possible obstacles, gives me a whole new context.
One of the first books I read, on coming to faith was Henri Nouwen's The return of the Prodigal son. The whole book resonated with my sense of 'coming home' but I particularly love this passage;
' As Father he wants his children to be free, free to love. That freedom includes the possibility of their leaving home, going to a "distant country," and losing everything. The Father's heart knows all the pain that will come from that choice, but his love makes him powerless to prevent it."
I found it disarming at first to think of God being powerless in any way and yet the idea his love being so enormous was somehow comforting at the same time. It opened my heart to God being somehow being womb like, a nurturing parent, rather than the authority figure I had pictured in my head. Nouwen's words certainly bought home to me just how much we are beloved.
I have lots that lift my spirit- none is christian though I'm afraid, so perhaps not the place to share.
I'm an Atheist, but I always find Matthew 25:31-46 The Sheep and the Goats helps me when I'm pissed off with human kind in general.
Or Terry Pratchet's Granny Aching character's version "Feed them as is hungry, clothe them as is naked, speak for them as has no voices."
Fiveex- that 's a good one, I'd forgotten the more uplifting parts of the bible- this is a favourite of mine:
2 Kings 2:23-24
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldhead!” they said. “Get out of here, baldhead!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.
Youth of yore eh? Who needs ASBO's when you've got bears .
Thanks for your post sunshinemum - I am turning 40 later this year and my youngest is off to school in September. I don't want to be "maundering lost youth"! I feel like a new and exciting chapter of my life could be starting - with God in it!! I just hope I can find those new doors and horizons opening around me. Encouraging words, so thank you.
Sorry I don't have much of my own to add, other than to say I have enjoyed all of Phillip Yancey's books and found them very encouraging.
We share that in common Zulu, Ds made the transition to secondary school last September. Another big leap. I shall look up Philip Yancey
I really enjoy CS Lewis' writing although he was a man of the early 20th century and sometimes that shows. 'The Screwtape Letters' which are the letters between a junior and senior devil are a real delight.
I must admit I should have started the C.S Lewis daily readings in January, as I was a bit by the extracts of the Screwtape letters I read and now intrigued.
I have loads.
One author I love in particular is Amy Carmichael, a 19th century missionary to Africa. She had a fall and damaged her spine badly then was bedridden, yet wrote book after book of beautiful devotional writings. As someone with chronic illness, what she says resonates with me so much. She wrote this from a place of deep pain and seperation from the world:
'You were like a leafy bush, and many little things came for you to shelter. You were not great or important, but you could help those little things.
And it was the joy of your life to help them.
Now you can do nothing at all.
Some desolation - illness, monetary loss, or something you cannot talk about to anyone, a trouble no one seems to understand - has overwhelmed you. All your green leaves have gone.
Now you cannot shelter even the least little bird.
You are like a bush, with its bare twigs . No use to anyone.
That is what you think.
But look again at this bare bush. Look at the delicate tracery of its shadow lines on the snow. The sun is shining behind the bush and so every little twig is helping to make something that is very beautiful. Perhaps other eyes, that you do not see, are looking on it too, wondering what can be made of sun and snow and poor bare twigs....
The spring will come again, for after winter there is always spring.
......Now, in the midst of so much unhappiness, engulfing your heart in cold, let these words seep down - like figures of sunlight, like trickles of first-spring rains - to refresh your inmost soul. God will not fail you, who is the God of the sun and the snow.'
Love that. After winter there is always spring.
Mad that is beautiful * like figures of sunlight, like trickles of first-spring rains - to refresh your inmost soul.* is just what I needed to read.
I so love hearing these and shared the learning to fall one at our home group reflection last night. It was really appreciated and fitted so well with the Ann Persson study on the wilderness.
'We read in Song of Songs 8:5 "Who is that coming from the wilderness. leaning on her beloved?" After a period of prayer and solitude, we can reconnect with God, of being in step with him once more as he leads us on to the next stage of life."
I wasn't leading the evening, so I did marvel sometimes at how we often seem to stumble on different texts that lead us to the same message from God
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