Settled Happiness vs. Joy, Pleasure and Merriment

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we always have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

The Spirit Strives With Our Spirit

A man will please God better by believing some things that are not told him, than by confining his faith to those things that are expressly said-said to arouse in us the truth-seeing faculty, the spiritual desire, the prayer for the good things which God will give to them who ask him.

"But is this not dangerous doctrine? Will not a man be taught thus to believe the things he likes best, even to pray for that which he likes best? And will he not grow arrogant in his confidence?"

If it be true that the Spirit strives with our spirit, if it be true that God teaches men, we may safely leave those dreaded results to him. If the man is of the Lord's company, he is safer with him than with those who would secure their safety by hanging on the outskirts and daring nothing. if he is not taught of God in that which he hopes for, God will let him know it. He will receive something else than he prays for. If he can pray to God for anything not good, the answer will come in the flames of that consuming fire. These will soon bring him to some of his spiritual sense. But it will be far better for him to be thus sharply tutored, than to go on a snail's pace in the journey of the spiritual life. And for arrogance, I have seen nothing breed it faster or in more offensive forms than the worship of the letter.

—George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

The Very Children of God

From a report of George MacDonald's sermon:

"He was not here to make a fine sermon; he scorned that kind of thing; he was there to persuade them if he could to be the disciples of Christ, the very children of God; less than that was loss and ruin to the very essence of their being . . . True obedience to the word of Christ was the only bond between Him and those who called themselves Christians."

How Hardly Things go Right

Alas, how easily things go wrong!

A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,

And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,

And life is never the same again.

Alas, how hardly things go right!

'Tis hard to watch on a summer night,

For the sigh will come and the kiss will stay,

And the summer night is a winter day.

—George MacDonald, Phantastes

Thou Art my Home

"That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and his desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to him, 'Thou art my refuge, because thou art my home.'"

-George MacDonald

And All was Well

    

Sudden I grew aware I was new-born;
All pain had vanished in the absorbent swell
     Of some exalting peace that was my own;
     As the moon dwelt in heaven did calmness dwell
At home in me, essential. The earth’s moan
Lay all behind. Had I then lost my part
In human griefs, dear part with them that groan ?
“‘Tis weariness ! ” I said; but with a start
That set it trembling and yet brake it not,
     I found the peace was love. Oh, my rich heart!
For, every time I spied a glimmering spot
Of window pane, “There, in that silent room,”
Thought I, ” mayhap sleeps human heart whose lot
Is therefore dear to mine ! ” I cared for whom
I saw not, had not seen, and might not see!
After the love crept prone its shadow-gloom,
But instant a mightier love arose in me,
    As in an ocean a single wave will swell,
     And heaved the shadow to the centre: we
Had called it prayer, before on sleep I fell.
It sank, and left my sea in holy calm:
I gave each man to God, and all was well.
And in my heart stirred soft a sleeping psalm.

—George MacDonald