The living way

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”. Lewis’s thoughts on the subject follow:

Scripture: "A new and living way” (Heb: 10, 20)


"This was a new way because it was a living way. Often in the Gospel people only seek a means of passing through the valley of death; they do not seek in it assistance and instructions for life. But when Christ approaches the soul He opens for it a new and living way. He reveals to us that eternity has begun for us already now, and that we can come to know it without waiting for death. He reveals to us that communion with God is achievable not only after death, but in life as well, and that offering our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, for right-minded worship” (Rom: 12, 1), already here, on earth, we receive the Kingdom of God through communing and uniting with the Lord. Moving, like the Israelites, through the desert of life, we can no longer be hungry or thirsty, since the Savior is walking ahead of us, and in Him we receive on a daily basis the grace which saves us, the light which illuminates, and the bread of life and source of truth which fills and strengthens our souls.

"Without God’s grace, without faith and love, we travelled the path of sin, the way of self-love, pleasures, frivolousness – the wide way which does not lead to the Kingdom of God! The new way is the way of self-denial, the way of love for one’s neighbor, the narrow way, which is often thorny. We must follow it with the burden of the cross, but it will lead us to the Lord. And the bright hope of eternal life, the hope of being united with the Lord, will support us on this way.

"Following His footsteps, we cannot go astray. Leaning on Him, we will not grow weak along the way. He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John: 14, 6). We need only to have our eyes open and be vigilant, and to seek and desire this way all our lives.

“Lord! Will I truly surrender to you only at the hour of my death? Show me the living way. Teach me the holy life which you were already given in Bethlehem, and then in Nazareth, and on Golgotha! Help me walk with you along the living way; grant me in this earthly life the might of immortality, and amid the full bloom of life teach me to completely renounce my will by covering it with Yours. Amid work, amid cares, amid struggles, in the hours of silent sorrow, in grief and joy, in sickness and in health, in poverty and prosperity, help me to submit to You completely and say: “Father! Into Your hands I commend My spirit” (Luke: 23, 46) – then my earthly life will be a living way to heaven!”

This brings to mind Lewis’s thoughts on the “the way” from chapter XIV (“Checkmate”) of “Surprised by Joy”:

“Once, when [Dom Bede Griffiths] and Barfield were lunching in my room, I happened to refer to philosophy as ‘a subject’. ‘It wasn’t a subject to Plato,’ said Barfield, ‘it was a way.’ The quiet but fervent agreement of Griffiths, and the quick glance of understanding between the two, revealed to me my own frivolity. Enough had been thought, and said, and felt, and imagined. It was about time that something should be done.”

And these are Lewis’s thoughts on experiencing the Kingdom of God already here on earth, from “Letters to Malcolm” (letter V), writing about those words from The Lord’s Prayer:

"Thy kingdom come. That is, may your reign be realized here, as it is there. But I tend to take there on three levels. First, as in the sinless world beyond the horrors of animal and human life; in the behavior of stars and trees and water, in sunrise and wind. May there be here (in my heart) the beginning of a like beauty. Secondly, as in the best human lives I have known: in all the people who really bear the burdens and ring true, and in the quiet, busy, ordered life of really good families and really good religious houses. May that they too may be “here.” Finally, of course, in the usual sense: as in Heaven, as among the blessed dead.

“And here can of course be taken not only as “in my heart”, but as “in this college” – in England – in the world in general.”

But the above Russian meditation also mentions the need to carry one’s cross. This is what Lewis writes about that in Mere Christianity, Book IV, chapter 8:

"You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometime describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes very easy. He says, ‘Take up your cross’…Next minute He says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light.’ He means both. And one can just see why both are true.

“Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in class is the one who works hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a preposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. The lazy boy will try to learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run.”


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)