God’s Surprises

This summer I am celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of my conversion to Christ. And what was it that turned around a hardened ex-marine and White House hatchet man? The writings of a tweedy, pipe-smoking scholar of medieval literature named C. S. Lewis. And because this summer is also the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Lewis's birth, I find myself reflecting on the manifold ways his writings have shaped my life and ministry. It all began one evening in the home of Tom Phillips, a business colleague. Tom read a passage on pride from Lewis's Mere Christianity, and though I did not let on, it was as if Lewis had written the words just for me. His words pierced my heart, exposing my sin. Tom wanted to pray with me, but I was too proud to. But as I went out to the driveway that night—the toughest of the Nixon tough guys—I found myself crying so hard that I could not drive the car out of the driveway. I distrust emotional responses, however, and it was only by reading Mere Christianity all the way through that my intellect caught up with my spiritual experience. In a single page, Lewis demolished my complacent rationalization of Christ's demands, the notion that Jesus was merely a great moral teacher. Given the claims Jesus made to divinity, a moral teacher is precisely what He could not be, Lewis argued: Either He was indeed the Son of God or He was a scoundrel, or he was, in Lewis's words, "a lunatic on the level of a man who said he was a poached egg." Faced with this clear choice, I realized that the Presence I confronted that night in the driveway was truly the living God. Lewis's writings helped me develop a comprehensive Christian worldview that now underlies all my speaking and writings, including my BreakPoint radio ministry. It strikes me as a delicious irony that this quiet Cambridge don should exert such a formative influence on me, and many others today. For Lewis was a humble man, who probably never imagined his work would have such an impact. Never would he have dreamed that his writings would end up in the hands of a man who sat in the office next to the president of the United States, in the midst of Watergate, the most convulsive political scandal in American history. He would never have dreamed that his words would inspire a speaking and radio ministry reaching much of the church. There is a lesson here for you and me, as each of us shoulders the task God has given us. Sometimes we Christians get very excited over our grandiose plans to reach the whole world. We get frustrated when we see cultural tides shifting against us, as they are doing today. But the wonderful truth is that we need only to be at our posts, faithfully doing whatever we are called to do—as Lewis's own life illustrates. When we do that, God will often use humble human instruments in ways we could scarcely imagine.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary