Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Mountains

In The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis lays out an insightful and unique view of eternity. Amongst the notable elements are his conception of Hell as a place where humanity has access to all the resources it could ever desire, his investigation of the perversion of even our best qualities (when not fully devoted to God), and the view of Heaven as a place where corrupted human concepts are restored and glorified. For me the vision of his I find most compelling is his description of "the mountains".

In the book, Lewis' protagonist, in the midst of a dream, arrives in a new land and sees a mountain range of which, "The height was so enormous that my waking sight could not have taken in such an object at all." Throughout the text hints of the mountain's meaning suggest that the full, total presence of God somehow resides within the deep of the range. The journey into the mountains is self-perpetuating. Characters are described as discovering the journey to become easier after the initial effort, continually going deeper and deeper into the mountains, and in one case, jetting into the mountains like a shooting star going faster each step. These persons are compelled by an untamable force within that beckons then into the deep. They cannot resist this pull, for in these mountains lies the only true, only valuable, and only worthwhile desire of their hearts. The very reason for which they were created.

I feel that in the last few weeks I've begun to better understand the concept of the sheer goodness of God. Everything in His nature reflects the Good. He is Good (with a capital-G, nothing good or Good can exist apart from Him). Because of this, for the first time, Paul's passage in Philippians 1:21-26, where he describes his dueling desires to be with the Father and the continue to minister in the body, has resonated with me. I can relate with what Paul felt, being overwhelmed by the indescribable Goodness of God and the total worthlessness of this world by comparison, yet experiencing the necessity of work on Earth. This is a view that lays a claim on Heaven as my true home and portrays this world as a mere passing, depraved, corrupted shell of what could be.

So where does this leave the Christ follower . . . with a death wish? Not quite. I see at least two potential views. First, because Christ came to earth a vision of the Goodness of God has been seen and lived on Earth and because of that we can ask, "What would it look like for me (or you) to be a living continuation of the story of Jesus in our world?"

A second related point leaves the Christ follower with the same goal as a character in Lewis work (although limited by worldly barriers), to journey closer and closer, to go into a deeper, more accurate, truer, purer relationship with God.

I pray that with each step the refrain would be "I want to go to the mountains."