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A Reluctant Guide - Final Lessons from the Life of C.S. Lewis

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
— John 14:15 (ESV)

1. Open in prayer

2. Watch Video (75 min.)

NOTE: If you are limited in time, the primary talk ends after about 55 minutes, after which there is Q&A.

3. Questions for group discussion (or individual reflection)

(I) Why does Dorsett refer to Lewis as a “reluctant guide” [STSP], pp. 109-118]

(II) Just before the confirmation and first communion of his goddaughter Sarah, Lewis gave her some advice:

…don’t expect … you will have all the feelings you would like to have. You may, of course: but also you may not. But don’t worry if you don’t get them. They aren’t what matter. The things that are happening to you are quite real things whether you feel as you would wish or not…

In a letter to a lady who was a recent convert to Christianity, Lewis gave similar advice:

It is quite right that you should feel that “something terrific” has happened to you...Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean that it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be — perhaps not ever — experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.

What do you think about Lewis’s advice for Christians not to depend on their feelings? Since most people do have ups and downs in their feelings, what steps can you take to remember, especially in “down times”, that our faith is not dependent on our feelings, but on the trustworthiness of God and Holy Scripture?

(III) Toward the end of the video, Dorsett shared what he has found to be the most important spiritual food and exercises for the healthy and growing soul, some of which he learned from Lewis and some from other people:

Daily Bible reading and study of Scripture;
A balanced life of prayer;
Radical obedience to God’s commands;
Participation in the life of a healthy church

What are your thoughts on this list? Are there any items you would add? Are there any changes that you have made in your life, or would like to make, in these or other areas as a result of this study?

(IV) In discussing the importance of a balanced life of prayer, Dorsett recommended the ACTS model: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Have you used this model? Do you think it is or would be helpful in having a balanced prayer life?

(V) While emphasizing the importance of confession, Dorsett stated that confession without repentance is a bad thing. He stated that anybody will confess, especially if they get caught. What is the difference between confession and repentance?

4. Read a Reflections: “Trust and Obey”

5. Close in prayer

Personal Action Steps

(1) Make plans to pray specifically using the ACTS model two days each week for the next four weeks. Write down the days you will do this. Pray about how God might want you to incorporate this model into your daily prayer life.

Note: You may wish to consider reading the following two short resources concerning the ACTS model:

How does one pray? I’ve never been taught how to say a personal prayer or really talk to God, from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

A Simple Acrostic for Prayer: A.C.T.S., from R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries

(2) In the first video, Dorsett quoted Frederick B. Meyer as observing that “the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ is present in all true Christians. He is prominent is some, and He is pre-eminent, alas, in only a few.” Dorsett believes the Spirit of Christ became preeminent in C.S. Lewis, which helps explain the impact Lewis had on so many people. How about you? Ask God to show you whether the Spirit of Christ is present, prominent, preeminent in you, and what steps you can take, in cooperation with God, to grow in Christ. After prayerfully reflecting on this, write down at least two steps that you will take on an ongoing basis, beginning now.

Consider: The most important question in life for anyone is whether they are a Christian, i.e., have you accepted what Jesus Christ has done on your behalf through His death on the cross and His resurrection and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior? If you’re not sure about this, we urge you to consider the following resources:

Begin Your Journey To Peace, from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

The Bridge to Life, by The Navigators

<< CONTENTS    INTRO    1       3    4        6  7  APPENDIX >>

Lyle Dorsett

Lyle Dorsett, Professor, holds the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School in Samford University. He taught courses in evangelism, spiritual formation and church history. He also serves as the pastor of Christ the King Anglican Church in Homewood, Alabama. Lyle received his PhD in American history and has published numerous books, including several Christian biographies and three works on C. S. Lewis.  

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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