“You never know how much you believe anything until its truth or its falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you...only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
C.S. Lewis said that.
I feel you, C.S.
You know what you’re talking about, that’s for sure. Because I believe in a lot of things—the essential nature of the family, of music education in public schools, and in God. But which of these have I tested to the limit prescribed by my dear friend C.S. Lewis? Which of these have I made a matter of life and death, or has circumstance dictated I do such?
And, on which of my beliefs am I willing to take a real risk?
In those unbearable life moments of grief and pain and pressure when no choice seems possible, let alone beneficial, what belief is the one I will choose as my lifeline to uphold me through the treachery?
It is God. I am young and sometimes I kid myself and think my life has been hard—it hasn’t. Especially in relation to many, many others. But my willingness to sacrifice for God has shown up—and yes, the truth or falsehood of it has been both a literal and emotional matter of life and death.
There have been times when my prayers have been met with aching silence. I have cried on my knees and wondered if the God I thought I loved so well knew me at all. Some of these times I have anguished for hours over whatever problem was present, some times I have given up in my own disappointment and crawled under the covers.
In Alma 18 Ammon asks King Lamoni, “What wilt thou that I should do for thee, O king?” and the king doesn’t answer him for an hour because he doesn’t know what to say. Then, Ammon asks: “What desirest thou of me?” And again, the king doesn’t answer him. This is when Ammon gets filled with the Spirit and is able to read Lamoni’s thoughts and talk to him about it.
Ammon didn’t know how long that hour was going to last. If I were him, I would have been shifting and pacing all over the place in that tension. It’s only when Ammon asks again that he gets filled with the Spirit. Only when he exerted the faith to put forth another effort after waiting so long.
So sometimes I’m Ammon, and instead of waiting and patiently exerting more faith and effort, I just bang on God’s door and try to convince Him to answer.
A girl bore her testimony in my new ward on Sunday and she was talking about dressing her 18 month old son. She said, "I just looked at him and said, ‘Ryan! We do this every day. This would be so much easier if you wouldn’t fight me on it!’ And I just thought, ‘Wow. God is just right in my face here!’ How often is He trying to say to me, ‘This would be so much easier if you wouldn’t fight me.’”
P.S., C.S. Lewis: I love you.