Recently I was reading a book that quoted from CS Lewis’ book Letters to Malcolm quite a lot. This week I’ve been reading it and chapter 17 alone is worth the price of the book! Let me quote from Lewis on the subject of worship and adoration,
“You first taught me the great principle ‘Begin where you are.’ I had thought one had to start by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and ‘all the blessings of this life.’ You turned to the brook and once more splashed your burning face and hands in the little waterfall and said, ‘Why not begin with this?’
And it worked. Apparently you have never guessed how much. That cushiony moss, that coldness and sound and dancing light were no doubt very minor blessings compared with ‘the means of grace and the hope of glory.’ But they were manifest. So far as they were concerned, sight had replaced faith. They were not the hope of glory, they were an exposition of the glory itself.
Yet you were not—or so it seemed to me—telling me that ‘Nature,’ or the ‘beauties of Nature,’ manifest the glory. No such abstractions as ‘Nature’ comes into it. It was learning the far more secret doctrine that pleasures are shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility. As it impinges on our will of our understanding, we give it different names—goodness or truth or the like. But it flashes upon our senses and mood is pleasure…
…I have tried, since that moment, to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration…”
(CS Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, pages 88-89)
As I read that I couldn’t help but think of the enormity of that lesson, “to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.” To find that in every pleasure that, in the words of Lewis, “We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore.” Of course there are pleasures that we snatch by acts of sin, but even in the sin the pleasure itself isn’t wrong…it is the means by which we come to the pleasure that can be wrong.
Lewis compares it to the stealing of an apple. He said, “It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse. There is sacrilege in the theft. We have abused a holy thing.” You can take out the stealing of the apple and replace it with anything. God has given us pleasure as a channel of adoration, but that pleasure is to be enjoyed within the confines of holiness. When we learn to do that we will find channels of adoration in everything from the sunset to butter on a biscuit right out of the oven!