C.S. Lewis on Lifelong Friendship

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it—tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest—if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself—you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.
C.S. Lewis 
The Problem of Pain

Yes, Professor Lewis was an academic, but he was also a good friend to anyone who was willing to engage in friendship with him. This excerpt from The Problem of Pain expresses what I call “Kindred Spirits,” though I’ve just copped the poetical phrase from literature.

This is Love

Lewis applies this inexpressible, life-longing not only to friendship, but to the spousal relationship and vocation as well. You will likely never realize it, searching throughout your life for you know not what. Not finding it doesn’t mean you will actively miss it, any more than a person born blind misses the pink sunset that delights sailors, but if you do realize it, you can’t imagine ever being without it.

Lifelong friendships don’t necessarily begin early in life. In fact, you can become acquainted quite late in life with a complete stranger whom you feel you’ve known forever. Your intercourse seems to pick up from some previous conversation known to neither of you, and—if you believed such things—you’d swear it began in some former life.

There is, however, a downside to such an intimate friendship; its end will be more earth-shaking than its beginning. The promise, “Til death do us part,” applies as much to kindred friendships as to marriage, and severing them similarly devastates both of you. Yet, even if betrayal separates you, though the warmth and intimacy is replaced by a cold bitterness, the bond is never fully broken, as you can’t deny the experience you’ve shared.

Your friendship with Jesus bears great similarities to such earthly kindred friendships; you can go to him literally at any time, because he never sleeps and he knows your deepest thoughts and feelings. As the best of earthly friends listen to you without interfering, Jesus wants to share in everything you care to lay on him, from your grief for sin to your joy for blessing.

There are two differences between his friendship and your earthly friendships: First, he will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). Only if you deny him will he deny you (Matthew 10:33; 2 Timothy 2:12), but as we see from Peter’s experience (Mark 14:66-72; John 21:15-19), sincere repentance is all Jesus wants.

The second difference is, Jesus is not only your kindred Friend, but your Judge and Arbiter as well. Talk about connections in high places!

If you don’t know Jesus’ intimate friendship, he’s waiting for you to let him into your life (Revelation 3:20). Once you experience it, you’ll wonder why you ever delayed.


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