Being a Created Thing

Here is a brief excerpt from That Hideous Strength depicting one of the main characters as she is about to experience what is the equivalent of a “conversions experience”. I think it is quite good.

“Jane had gone into the garden to think. She accepted what the Director had said, yet it seemed to her nonsensical. His comparison between Mark’s love and God’s (since apparently there was a God) had struck her nascent Spirituality as indecent and irreverent. “Religion” ought to mean a realm in which the haunting female fear of being treated as a thing, an object of barter and desire and possession, would be set permanently at rest and what she called her true self would soar upwards and expand in some freer and purer world. “Religion” was a kind of exhalation or a cloud of incense, something steaming up from specially gifted souls toward a receptive heaven. Then, quite sharply, it occurred to her that the Director never talked about religion; nor did the Dimbles nor Camilla. They talked about God. They had no picture in their minds of some mist steaming upward: rather of strong, skillful hands thrust down to make, and mend, perhaps even to destroy. Supposing one were a thing after all—a thing designed and invented by Someone Else and valued for qualities quite different from what one had decided to regard as one’s true self?”

Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that it is He who has made us and not we ourselves.” The reality that we are beings created by God is so assumed throughout Christianity that even the youngest child in Sunday School would be expected to affirm the doctrine. And yet, do we really contemplate the implications of being a “created thing” as Lewis so beautifully describes above?

We live in a world where we are much like Jane. We like to make a name for ourselves. Differentiate ourselves with an out of the box uniqueness where no one else will be able to say otherwise. Throughout That Hideous Strength Jane has a crippling desire to be taken seriously and to be seen as important. She wants to separate herself from the traditional mores and prejudices of what being a female meant. Which begs the question: Suppose “one were a created thing after all?” Would I be able to make myself into what I want any longer? Would I be able to rise like mist in an untethered, self-defined identity before the Almighty? Many try.

But the fundamental truth of being a “created thing” shatters these hopes. We are not our own. We never were. We do not make the rules, nor do we make ourselves. It is He that has made us, indeed it is He that makes us with “strong, skillful hands”. Our Maker’s standard is the only standard by which we must conform; and we should not find it surprising when we observe true joy and identity experienced as the created exist in the precise lines they were created for.

Oh how burdensome and tiring it seems to always be stretching out and reaching beyond what you have been created to be! The world celebrates this, the pure autonomy, the coming out of the closet, the alternative lifestyles. Social media to some extent caters to our very human desires to set ourselves apart and receive the due recognition. But we are feeling the weight of such freedom, and it is ever looking more and more like a curse.

As Christians we have to delight in the created order of God; We have to learn to rejoice in living within the boundaries we have been given. That Hideous Strength is a relevant book to our day because it takes a careful look into the two opposing postures of humanity: 1) rebellion against the Creator or 2) submission to the Creator. The gap could not be wider between the two: one holds the keys to life; the other, death.


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