Last year our Faith small group attended a showing of The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis. Talk about radical! This movie documents the radical conversion of C.S. Lewis from a self-proclaimed atheist to one of the most recognized Christian authors of all time. His reluctant conversion to a personal saving faith in Jesus Christ has now, through his many writings, radically impacted many others to explore, question and wrestle with the reality of a risen Savior. Reluctant seems too soft of a description for the way Lewis intensely wrestled with his faith. He fiercely resisted Christianity.
C.S. Lewis describes this fierce resistance in his writing Surprised by Joy: “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.” Fierce resistance is radically converted to an acknowledgement of God and his provision of a personal Savior.
In 2013, the impact of C.S. Lewis’s writings became personal. Personal loss placed us in the crucible of deep suffering. It was here where I observed my husband (Rich) wrestle with his faith in Jesus Christ. It was also the same space that has produced “radical” growth in his relationship with his living Savior. As Rich wrestled, he immersed himself in the living Word, and he also sought many authors that write about grief, suffering, and the goodness of God in meeting us in it. It was in this process that Lewis’s writings produced radical certainty that Jesus is who he claimed, the Son of God.
May the personal reflections Rich shares below about the life and impact of C.S. Lewis and his writings encourage you!
What is one radical step C.S. Lewis took in his life for Christ?
Rich: C.S. Lewis described himself as the most reluctant convert. He was pressed into the horror, from his atheistic point of view, that Christianity was true. While his acceptance of Christianity occurred in his mind, his heart took longer to get on board. Radical change caused an intentional about-face in his world view and led him into becoming one of the great ambassadors for Christ.
How has C.S. Lewis radically impacted you?
Rich: C.S. Lewis pursued truth wherever it led him. This relentless pursuit required him to make changes in his life that he reluctantly implemented. What a testimony! I accepted Christ when I was sixteen and have seen my faith grow through the years. Our older son, Derek, passed away in 2013, and this drove me to earnestly seek the truth. I needed to know that my faith was based on the truth. It makes zero sense to believe in anything that isn’t true. C.S. Lewis’s works have helped me answer many questions while continuing to point me back to the ultimate Truth in Jesus Christ himself.
How would you encourage our Faith family to take their next step towards being a radical disciple of Christ?
C.S. Lewis reminds us that God’s plan for each of us far exceeds our wildest expectations. Think of the greatest saints you know (Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Martin Luther, …) and realize that Christ’s desire is to continue your sanctification process far beyond even that of saints we so admire. “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses).
Don’t be so easily pleased! Expect the radical.
Kelly Packard began attending Faith in 1997. She loves affirming the promises of God from his Word through writing, and, as part of Faith’s writing team, she brings that passion and insight to our church. Kelly has spent her professional career as a college/pro women’s basketball coach. In May 2020, Kelly and her husband Rich and their son Evan launched Living Hope Mountain Respite, a ministry geared toward helping couples who have lost a child. In her leisure time, she enjoys her family and friends, drinking coffee and exercise.