Reflections – The Desire For My True Country

 

January 2020

The Desire For My True Country

n a chapter of Mere Christianity titled “Hope”, C.S. Lewis considered the longings we have in life that are not fully satisfied. An excerpt follows.

The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality… Now there are two wrong ways of dealing with this fact, and one right one.

(1) The Fool's Way.—He puts the blame on the things themselves. He goes on all his life thinking that if only he tried another woman, or went for a more expensive holiday, or whatever it is, then, this time, he really would catch the mysterious something we are all after…

(2) The Way of the Disillusioned “Sensible Man.”—He soon decides that the whole thing was moonshine. “Of course,” he says, “one feels like that when one's young. But by the time you get to my age you've given up chasing the rainbow's end.” And so he settles down and learns not to expect too much and represses the part of himself which used, as he would say, “to cry for the moon.”… But supposing infinite happiness really is there, waiting for us? Supposing one really can reach the rainbow's end? In that case it would be a pity to find out too late (a moment after death) that by our supposed “common sense” we had stifled in ourselves the faculty of enjoying it.

(3) The Christian Way.—The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”1

Let us be thankful for the longings and the blessings God gives us in this life, but look forward with hope to spending eternity with Jesus Christ in heaven.

 

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 CORINTHIANS 4:17-18 (ESV)

 

1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Touchstone: New York, 1996, pp. 120-121.


© 2020 C.S. Lewis Institute. “Reflections” is published monthly by the C.S. Lewis Institute.
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