The Night the Author Entered the Story

For I thought He projected us as a dramatist projects his characters,” C.S. Lewis said of God in Surprised by Joy, “and I could no more ‘meet’ Him, than Hamlet could meet Shakespeare.” Lewis likened his search for God unto that of a mouse and a cat. He was the mouse. He was not looking for the cat. It was the other way around.

Lewis further developed this hunting metaphor to describe his conversion. God was the hunter. Lewis was the prey. God took aim and hit his target. That’s why Lewis describes himself as one of the most reluctant converts in England, his conversion the result of being pursued by God not the culmination of his own spiritual quest.

I find Lewis’s Hamlet illustration to be quite compelling. I shared it with high school students earlier today. In one sense, if Hamlet were to explore his world he wouldn’t see any evidence of Shakespeare. He wouldn’t find him in outer space, hiding behind a tree, or submerged in the depths of the ocean.

In another sense, however, Hamlet would see evidence of Shakespeare everywhere. He would be living in the world Shakespeare made. The existence of this world  entirely dependent upon its author.

But for Hamlet to know Shakespeare personally, intimately even, the author would have to write himself into the story. As Lewis said, “Hamlet could initiate nothing.” For the two to meet, “it must be Shakespeare’s doing.”

This is the basic claim of the Christian narrative. There is an author to our story, to our world. If ever we would meet him, it will not be of our own initiation. He must act. He must write himself into human history. And he has. As the Apostle John says, “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word became flesh.”

The scandalous claim of Scripture is that the Author entered the plot. He stepped over the threshold of time and space to be born in a seemingly insignificant town in the Middle East. The Creator of the world wrapped in a first-century diaper: phenomenal cosmic power  . . .  itty, bitty living space. This is our best and only hope. This is joy. This is life. This is Christmas.

Joy to the world
The Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing