A Letter to Ruth

He detested typewriters.

He wrote all his personal correspondence – and it was extensive – with a pen. He believed the noise of a typewriter interfered with the flow of creative thought.

His brother later typed his letters, being the only one who could decipher the scrawled penmanship.

This particular letter on this day required thoughtful attention. It was the reply to a young girl named Ruth Broady. Ruth had written to say how much she enjoyed his books.

He smiled at the affirmation. He loved children as much as he hated typewriters. Taking pen carefully in hand, he wrote the date in the upper corner: 26 October, 1963.

“Many thanks for your kind letter, and it was very good of you to write and tell me that you like my books; and what a very good letter you write for your age!”

He paused for just a moment. Then he wrote:

“If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so.”

Then he paused again. This next part would be interesting:

“I’m so thankful that you realized the ‘hidden story’ in the Narnian books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grownups hardly ever”.

The Chronicles of Narnia, one of the greatest pieces of children’s literature ever written, was sometimes attacked by academics as racist. Others assailed it as sexist. Everyone had an opinion; everyone had an interpretation. The scholars thought they knew. This work of allegorical fantasy was examined and analyzed from various perspectives and prejudicial mindsets in search of supposed underlying cultural themes.

In the end, CS Lewis knew that children would get it.

They would embrace it in its purity and creative beauty. They would accept it and enjoy it for the wonderful and imaginative story it was.

Children would cast no cynical judgment on the work nor offer any smug critiques. They would perceive “the hidden story” that “grownups hardly ever” recognized.

What Lewis appreciated about children is what Jesus also celebrated.

Jesus attached great importance to child-like faith.

When his disciples got into an argument about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven – a childish preoccupation typical of adults – Jesus stopped them and startled them.

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:2, KJV). Jesus didn’t want these arguing grownups to miss “the hidden story” and so he brought it center stage.

Jesus looked at the little boy and smiled. He caressed the lad’s tousled hair. And he held him tenderly in his arms.

Then Jesus looked at his disciples – the men who would be the first leaders of his church.

“Except ye be converted and become as little children,” he told them, “ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, KJV).

How often have men and women missed the profound simplicity of the Gospel because they’ve refused to believe it could be that uncomplicated? They’ve wanted to add to it, analyze it and work for it. Anything but simply accept it as God’s free gift.

That’s too easy. Nothing this important could be that simple.

So many people remain blinded by their sophistication and cynicism; by their success, their money and their power; by their intellect, the approval of their peers or political correctness.

Saddled by skepticism, they miss the “hidden story” of God’s great love. They fail to “become as little children” and so never enter the kingdom of heaven.

They miss it.

When the disciples scolded parents for bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed by him because they thought it was a distraction, Jesus brought them up short.

“When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples” (Mark 10:14, New Living Translation).

These men had a lot to learn about children and the Kingdom of God and this was another teachable moment.

“Let the children come to me,” Jesus told them. “Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children” (vs. 14, emphasis added).

Then Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (vs. 15, emphasis added).

Then Jesus gathered these little boys and girls lovingly into his arms; he hugged them and put his hands on their heads and he blessed them.

Children are humble, transparent, trusting, affectionate and unaffected. Many lose these qualities as adults. And when they do, the kingdom of God grows more distant.

The true Christian is one who has not lost the child’s heart.

Pray that you may always be child-like in your love and faith.

“I’m afraid the Narnian series has come to an end,” Lewis wrote in closing his letter to Ruth Broady, “and am sorry to tell you that you can expect no more.

God bless you”.

Less than a month later, CS Lewis, who never lost his child’s heart and never stopped loving Jesus, walked through the Gates of Splendor into a heavenly kingdom more glorious, more beautiful, more colorful and more creative than even he could ever have imagined.

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