My favorite CS Lewis book is, “The Great Divorce.” In the book, residents of hell go on a day trip to heaven. They have the option to stay if they like. But the experience is too intense and they all end up returning to hell.
I think I just completed the reverse trip. I have been a Christian my whole life. But a year or so ago, when a friend of mine committed suicide, I had had it. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back (more like a cinder block). I figured if God could not be bothered to intervene in my friend’s most desperate hour, he did not exist. I decided my life was based on a lie. And I turned my back.
Then yesterday happened…more on that later.
On my bus tour of hell, my disappointment with God dissolved instantly. It was a huge relief to not care. But when you divorce yourself from the center of your life, nothing matters. Nothing. The pain was gone, but so was the joy. It was like losing my sense of taste. I ate, but there was no sweetness or saltiness, even bitterness was gone.
Then yesterday I had a single spoonful of extremely tart lemon pie. My senses lit up like a Christmas tree, if only for a moment. For a minute at church, I let down my guard and I felt something. As I wrote yesterday, I was struck by the fact that Jesus’ most desperate prayer was declined. Bang…I had chills.
So here I am in the central district of hell. The bus back home is here and the door is open.
Do I still think God of the Bible is a bit of a jerk? Yes. Do I have serious doubts about the morality of the Old Testament? Yes. Do I still have problems with the whole concept of hell? Yes. Do I find the incarnation to be a fantastic tale beyond belief? Yes. But do I think God exists? Maybe. Do I think I am hard wired to have faith? Absolutely.
Honestly I don’t know where this is going. I really don’t. It would be a bit inauthentic if I slapped a patch on my misgivings and just continued as if none of the past few years ever happened. My son is still gravely ill. My calling is as dead as a doornail. My sister-in-law is still paralyzed. And my friend Dennis? He is still gone and I don’t know where.
Nothing has fundamentally changed except that today it matters to me.