If our religion is only realized
In the quietness of the morning,
The wind through the trees on a blustery day,
Among pleasant friends with common interests,
Or through the right songs on a Sunday;
Then we straight-jacket our faith,
Rendering it useless
In our segregated hearts.
Trusting such a faith is like
Chewing your food but never swallowing
Or taxing a plane but never taking off
Or sitting in a wheelchair when you've got new legs
Or fumigating without a tent
Or building a house on a dry riverbed.
Eternal life is not had
"By simply feeling
The presence of God
In flowers and music" (Lewis, 155);
But in working the words in
Like yeast kneaded into dough
Like good posture in your every move,
Like correct grammar into your sentences.
And yet not like that kind of work at all;
Because, unlike forced labor
Or the strong-arming of our passions,
This work bears up
Until it sees
Another bearing it for us.
So work the Word in
’Til he holds sway over every thought you make
'Til he penetrates every place you ache;
Every impatient look at imperfection,
Every patronizing offer to help others,
Every feigned smile to save face,
Every discontented wish,
Every gift you withhold,
Every dreaded what-if,
Into all the excess you consume,
And the freedom you demand,
And your unwillingness to exert.
Work him in
Until your experience of God
Is not confined to the morning hours
Or beaches or songs or churches,
But exists also
In the eyes of your enemy
And his rants that feel like an attack
And his jibes that mistake your intentions
And his seizing of your inalienable rights.
Such a faith is like
Swallowing your food
Or taking off the runway into the sky
Or getting up out of your wheelchair and walking
Or allowing the fumigation to kill every single termite
Gnawing away at the beams in your house.
Only then when the flood comes
And the wind blows and beats
Will the house stand
On solid rock.
“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on." (Luke 6:46-47 MSG)
Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.