Letters to the Family of God

by Joe Franzone | November 3, 2022 | Pastor's Blog

Family of God - Website (600 × 282 px)

November 3, 2022


(Treat) older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.


1 Timothy 5:2


Let whoever is wise observe these things, that they may comprehend the gracious love of the Lord.


Psalm 107:43

C.S. Lewis was famous for writing people back from the thousands of letters he would receive. It is a wonder in some ways, but he considered each answered letter an act of hidden service to God. I find this very appealing and a strong reflection of the personal ministry to people Jesus Himself freely offered.


On December 6th, 1955, C.S Lewis wrote a response letter to Mary Willis Shelburne on the hard task of learning to depend only on God and on nothing and no one else.


The following is from The Letters to an American Lady and is one of his many replies to Mary a widow who often wrote to Lewis about the different troubles in her life.

I was most distressed by the news in your letter of Dec. 2nd... And I can’t help you, because under modern laws I’m not allowed to send money to America. (What a barbarous system we live under. I knew a man who had to risk prison in order to smuggle a little money to his own sister, widowed in the U.S.A.) By the way, we mustn’t be too sure there was any irony about your just having refused that other job. There may have been a snag about it, which God knew, and you didn’t.


I feel it almost impossible to say anything (in my comfort and security—apparent security, for real security is in Heaven and thus earth affords only imitations) which would not sound horribly false and facile. Also, you know it all better than I do. I should in your place be (I have in similar places been) far more panic-stricken and even perhaps rebellious. For it is a dreadful truth that the state of (as you say) ‘having to depend solely on God' is what we all dread most. And of course, that just shows how very much, how almost exclusively, we have been depending on things. That trouble goes so far back in our lives and is now so deeply ingrained, we will not turn to Him as long as He leaves us anything else to turn to. I suppose all one can say is that it was bound to come. In the hour of death and the day of judgment, what else shall we have? Perhaps when those moments come, they will feel happiest, who have been forced (however unwillingly) to begin practicing it here on earth. It is good of Him to force us: but dear me, how hard to feel that it is good at the time.


All’s well—I’m half ashamed it should be—with me. God bless and keep you. You shall be constantly in my prayers by day and night.

It is the line, having to depend solely on God is what we all dread most, that cuts to the heart. Isaiah 50 has a good verse reflecting some of what Lewis was on about.

Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.


Verse 10

Here, Isaiah is writing to God’s people about the Messiah who will bring comfort and redemption because of their sins. The wonder is, instead of wrath, God brings mercy.


The difficulty is for a people who have relied on so many other things for so long, such as wealth, power, prestige, and foreign gods; the weaning process of sole dependence on God is like what Isaiah pen’s as walking in darkness.


The word translated as trust in verse 10 means to lie helpless, facedown. It is a picture of a servant waiting for the master’s command in readiness to obey or a defeated soldier yielding himself to the conquering general.


The phrase rely on, means to lean into what will fully support you. The point is what John Newton wrote of God in a hymn. God afflicts us in that He might wean us from every other support but Him.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.


Was He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.


I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.


Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.


Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Humbled my heart and laid me low.


Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.


These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou may find thy all in Me.”


I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow

Helpless, facedown, leaning into, trust, rely on—does the track of these words sound familiar? Of course, it does. It is the Gospel, where the character of God is on full display. He is the only one we can rely on. Christ is the only one who can save. Only His righteousness is accepted.


Lean hard on Him, in the common things of life. I am trying too.


God bless us and keep us fully dependent on Him.


Pastor Joe

P.S. I chose to give you the entire letter because I wanted you to read how gentlemanly and gentle C.S. Lewis was to Mary.