Daily Word of Grace # 88 (July 16, 2020)

One of the many challenges of the pandemic is the uncertainty of the future (which has always been uncertain but this uncertainty feels more pronounced right now).  How many of us have made plans this year only to change, postpone, or jettison them altogether?  In the Letter of James we read: “Come now, you who may say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’  Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring…Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15).  In the midst of another uncertain time, World War II, the incomparable C. S. Lewis completed one of his best books, The Screwtape Letters (1942).  Lewis addresses various aspects of the Christian life from a particularly creative angle: a series of letters from a senior demon in hell named Screwtape to his apprentice demon on earth, Wormwood.  In these letters Screwtape refers to God as “our Enemy” and instructs Wormwood in the art of wrecking the lives of Christians.  In one letter he emphasizes focusing on getting Christians to focus on the future more than the present: “The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity.  He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present.  For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.  Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them” (71).  C. S. Lewis is exactly right (he usually is), for truly it is the present during which “time touches eternity” and during which the Lord indeed offers us “freedom”, divine love and grace in the present from the One who is beyond time to those of us who have much less control over the future than we care to admit; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  Moreover, as the late civil rights activist Ralph Abernathy (1926-1990) put it, “I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future.”

Love and Prayers,