Using what we have to praise God

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”. Lewis connection follows:

Scripture: “Whoever has faith in Me shall do the works that I do, and he will do even greater works than these” (John 14, 12)


"The work of the Lord is first of all the rebirth and salvation of human souls, and in this great and holy work the Lord calls us to be his collaborators, working in His field and harvesting, through the power of the Savior Himself, more and more perfect fruit. Are we worthy of such a holy and great calling? Only with a pure soul and clean hands can we approach this great and holy act – the planting of goodness in human souls.

"A great thinker compares mankind to a block of marble from which an artist can bring forth beautiful images. A human being is such a tool in God’s hands, just as a chisel is in the hands of a sculptor, but a tool which has understanding and is therefore responsible. It is truly a great calling when an artist can create an angel from a formless piece of stone, but it is incomparably greater and more wonderful to have the ability to awaken a human soul to become conscientious and to summon it to follow a higher spiritual goal. A mother, bringing up her child and fondling it in her embrace, must first of all think about the living soul entrusted to her by God. She has been given the power to bring up this soul in the spirit of truth and love for God, to silence within it the germ of evil, to awaken the angel-like being sleeping in it, and to set it on the true path leading to God. All her efforts, all the strength of a mother’s heart, should be directed to this goal, which she can achieve only with the all-powerful help of God.

"But it is not only in this closeness between parents and children that this great work of awakening and bringing up souls is found. Children in turn influence their parents, and brothers influence brothers, and friends influence friends. In all human relationships the foremost task must be this high, unreachable, holy aim – the influence of good, the call to eternal truth.

“May all of you who are educated and wise and rich in knowledge bring your education, knowledge and wisdom to the feet of the Savior, so that He can teach you to help your uneducated brethren to know Him. And remember that your own works are worthless, that Christ is not speaking in the above words about your works and intentions, but about those which are His, which He wants to carry out through you, if you submit entirely to Him and do not hinder Him with your self-conceit and self-will. The world is hungry for Him and His works, and needs you to the extent that you will be His instruments. Therefore, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom…but let him who boasts boast that he understands and knows me…for only in this do I delight”, says the Lord (Jer. 9: 23-24).”

I think the last paragraph of this meditation very aptly summarizes the work of C.S. Lewis, and the great humility with which he viewed it.

In “The Great Divorce” there is a painter Ghost who is very concerned about being recognized and meeting distinguished painters in Heaven, to which the Bright Spirit replies:
“But they aren’t distinguished – no more than anyone else. Don’t you understand? The Glory flows into everyone, and back from everyone: like light and mirrors. But the light’s the thing.”


“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)

This quote reminds me of Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle,” where we also have a painter in Heaven (well, actually he is in Purgatory).

Could Tolkien have influenced Lewis? “Leaf by Niggle” was written in 1938-39 and published in 1945. “The Great Divorce” was published in 1945. So there could have been an influence.