The late C.S. Lewis was a brilliant scholar and writer, probably best known for his books Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Lewis was also a confirmed bachelor, who one day finds his world turned upside-down when a lady arrives from America and immerses herself into his life. He ends marrying her – to help her obtain British citizenship – but they end up falling deeply in love with each other. But one day tragedy hits, and Lewis’ life is never the same.
The movie Shadowlands was made from this period in Lewis’ life.
Tragedy hits us all in many different ways and at many different times. It can look different from one person to the other.
One Sunday afternoon years ago we got a call from our pastor who explained that he felt God leading him to have a panel onstage the next Sunday, and wanted them to be willing to share their individual “Shadowland” experiences. He asked if Gary and I would be willing to be part of the panel. The panel also included another family who had lost a child, a single man who had lost his wife, and a sweet lady who besides just losing her dad, also had her mother and brother commit suicide!
Of course Gary and I both were blessed to be able to share, so that week the pastor dropped by a video clip of Shadowlands to review. He also had some questions for us taken from Psalm 119:35-42 where the psalmist is asking God to provide wisdom and guidance in his life.
The next day (Friday) I was going through the questions, and one of them stated, “… as with the psalmist, all of you were committed Christians when the tragedies struck…” That stopped me cold, as I wasn’t a committed Christian when we lost our boys – as a matter of fact, I was just a make-believe one (The Day When Jesus Became Real). What was I going to do – he probably had no clue about my background!
After Gary got home that day he also went over the questions, and we both agreed that I should call the pastor and let him know.
The next morning (the day before we were to be on the panel), I called our pastor at home – fully expecting him not to answer. I was totally prepared just to leave a short message (after all, it was his day off), but of course he answered the phone.
As I typically do when I’m nervous and ill-equipped, I started babbling away, saying how I didn’t want to bug him on his day off, but I felt I needed to tell the truth; that I wasn’t a Christian when our Shadowlands had struck.
His reply? Oh, I knew that. Huh?
He ended up asking me about my “story” and after I finished he told me to just say what I had just told him.
Well Sunday came, and we all arrived early for a brief rehearsal. When the pastor asked if we had any questions, I opened my big mouth and asked if there were any barf-buckets available in case they were needed. After getting stared at for a moment, all of a sudden everyone loosened up and the jokes started coming about how barf-buckets were located behind every seat, and that oxygen masks would come down in case of an emergency…
Service started, and all us panelists were seated in the front row. Then the worship team started playing Amazing Love, and I fell apart. I fell apart because it truly is amazing the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, and because of that love I know that I am special.
I managed to calm down before we got up to the platform, and everything went smoothly – except I never had an opening to share my testimony. Oh well, I figured, it’s just not the time.
The second service came around, and this time I made it through “Amazing Love” just fine. Then all of a sudden when we got up to the platform I found myself feeling very tense.
The feeling continued, and I found that I just couldn’t concentrate – I was unable to follow the conversations. What was going on?
Suddenly the pastor looked right at me and said: Linda, the death of your boys had a somewhat different effect on you than the others – would you like to share?
BOOM! The floodgates opened and I started talking, boldly and with confidence. I know that it wasn’t me, but it was the Holy Spirit taking over, giving me just the right words to say.
When it was over, I felt a release. I knew it all had happened just as God had designed it to happen. And people came up front – people who were moved by our Lord to get right with Him. We don’t always know why God allows things to happen as they do, but we must always trust Him and His ways. Such a powerful day.
My friends – people need to hear your testimony. You might be standing right by someone who is struggling deeply with something in their lives, and they need to hear that there’s hope. To God be all the glory!