Patterns in earthly experiences signal eternal truths. Take an ocean wave, for instance. There’s the trough at the bottom, the face of the wave, and the crest at the top. Reflect upon the waves in your own life, and in the lives of the little ones you are parenting, teaching and coaching.
C.S. Lewis captured a pertinent point about the waves of life in his seminal work titled, The Screwtape Letters. In this little book, which encapsulates 31 short letters, Lewis provides a series of lessons about the Christian faith by portraying a typical human life – with all its temptations and failings – as seen from the demons’ viewpoints. The book is funny, dry, and frightening all at the same time. It depicts how a high-level demon (Uncle Screwtape) might train an inexperienced demon (Wormwood) on the schemes of the Devil. Uncle Screwtape shows his young nephew how to tempt, taunt, and damage a new Christian with detailed advice on various methods of undermining God’s word and of promoting the abandonment of God.
The uncle gives “pearls of wisdom” to his eager student – or, as his uncle calls him, the idiot nephew. In Letter #8, Uncle Wormwood teaches his nephew about the Law of Undulation. Undulation is a rhythmic, flowing, up-and-down movement, much like the motion of waves. Uncle Screwtape divulges to the young demon how to take advantage of the waves of life that the new Christian is experiencing.
Pause for a moment and think back to the most impactful moments in your own life, from age five to age eighteen. Chances are there were high, exuberant crests and some low, painful troughs.
And God was present in all of those moments. All of them.
Young Christians often believe that God’s presence only exists in the highs. Therefore, the lows would indicate the absence of God. What rubbish! The economy of God moves through all seasons of life – from our lows to our highs, and everything in between. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in the middle, where many of our days are neither crests nor troughs. We are just along the for the ride; simply surfing along the face of a wave.
I’ve loved the first few days of school at SFC. So many high crests and new beginnings! The week began with a prayer walk on Wednesday, then a BBQ lunch with the dads on Thursday, and finished with a football win in overtime on Friday. All highs! However, just like in a wave, there will be troughs of lows – perhaps a last-second loss in a championship game, an F on a paper, a relational breakup, or a truly difficult experience at home. One thing is for certain – trough, face or crest, God will be with us throughout the ride, this is an eternal truth.
This simple truth of undulation is not rocket science. Patterns on this earth really do signal eternal axioms and remind our hearts of the One who is with us.
Riding the face of the wave,
P.S. I’ll close with one additional thought about Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. I’ve read it every year since age 23. It is not an easy read, yet each year, as I get older, more life-truths are revealed from the pages. If you don’t want to read the entire book, you can find a wide range of depictions on Youtube. Here’s a link to Letter #8 to get you started.