Do you ever feel out of place? Sometimes I feel out of place in this world. And at other times, I’m embarrassed to admit that I fit in all too well. I often refer to myself as one of the misfit toys in the Rudolph cartoon.
This morning I’ve been reading and listening to CS Lewis’s “The Weight of Glory”. You can listen here and read it here. And be forewarned: it’s deep and long. It was a sermon Lewis preached in 1942. There is something about what he writes that brings me some solace (solace being defined as “comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness”).
Lewis talks about John Keats’ reference to “the journey homeward to habitual self”, which made me go read Keats (which is no easier to read). Keats says in the journey homeward to habitual self that “a flickering lantern… Cheats us into a swamp, into a fire, Into the bosom of a hated thing.”
And I may be completely off base with what I hear Lewis saying, and Keats for that matter, but here goes. We spend our whole lives trying to fit into a world that has no good will for us, nor a good ending for us. “For a few minutes” Lewis says, “we have the illusion of belonging to that world.” He says that the world looks our way and smiles, but is not actually looking at us. The world is looking past us. In the end, as the music fades and the sun sets on our lives, we will realize that the world never cared about us and never had a place for us. We never truly belonged here. We have been mere spectators. We may come or go and it makes no difference to the world. It turns out that after we have sacrificed our morals and our lives and the world has taken all of us, we are then discarded.
Yet, mixed with that bitter truth, is a sweetness. There is a place we were designed to “fit in”, it just happens to be that it is not here. There is One who does not glance our way looking past us, but instead looks directly at us. And One who does not ask us to do all of the sacrificing, but has sacrificed for us. There is a God who loves us, who sent His Son to die for us, and has gone to prepare a place for us. A permanent place for which we were designed. And by His grace through our faith in believing in the shed blood of the sacrifice of Jesus, we will be welcomed there when the journey of this world ends. And this is our hope in the midst of this world.
That being said, there is yet a purpose for us in this world, even if there is not a place for us in it. We are sojourners in this world – passerbys, if you will. We are on our way to somewhere else, yet oddly enough we are not in a hurry to get there! And our job as we go through this world is not to settle in to comfort, or to sacrifice our values so that we can be accepted by it. Our job is to inform others by how we live our lives that they too may join us on this path to “somewhere else” where there is a place for them— where the Master of this place loves them just as He loves us.
And unlike the world, that wants everything from us and has nothing for us, God wants something for us and has a purpose for us in this world and a place for us in the next. Lewis writes that one day, “The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last”. Until then, don’t worry if you don’t fit in here. Perhaps you should worry if you do. If you are living for the next world, you will often be a misfit in this one.