I wrote the article over a year ago, and it appeared in 2015’s November issue. At the risk of sounding like a presidential candidate, I felt then and I still feel it is one of the best things I’ve ever written. In my defense, I submit what Leland Ryken (longtime professor of English at Wheaton College) wrote after I shared it with him:
Your essay is what I call a moon shot in my classes. It is absolutely perfect as a complete coverage of the material in a small compass. Congratulations on work well done. You did it better than I could have.
Considering Leland’s prolific writings on the subject and his astounding output as an author, I take this as the highest compliment. And I give all praise and glory to God, the I AM who writes all our stories as part of His great and never-ending story.
Five years ago, a fifth-grader named Matthew entered my life. I ignored him for too many years, but he’s been taking center stage lately. This morning I finished him off.
Strictly speaking, I didn’t finish him off completely. I only finished the second draft of the first manuscript in his series, Matthew Muddles Through. It seems the time was right to work on this because I was able to maintain momentum and make many improvements.
The manuscript is still a bit long for juvenile fiction, and I plan to whittle it down during the revision process. I also hope to get the book published while it’s still of interest to the grandson to whom it’s dedicated.
That reminds me of the dedication C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Lucy Barfield:
My dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather, C.S. Lewis
I’ve read that dedication dozens of times, but this morning I realized for the first time that Lucy must have been the daughter of Owen Barfield.
A quick online search proved that true. And I learned what a difference this dedication made in Lucy’s life.
A happy and active child, Lucy learned to dance and trained for ballet. She became a dance teacher and music instructor. She was also interested in her father’s work and accompanied him during a visiting professorship in America.
Barfield was a philosopher, author, poet, and one of the Inklings. According to the Owen Barfield site, Lucy was a poet as well. Two collections of poems reflecting her “faith and fortitude” are kept at the Marion Wade Center in Wheaton (I wished I’d known when I visited two years ago!).
Sadly, Lucy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 28 and lived for another forty years with the debilitating disease. Before her death in 2003, she spent several years as a helpless invalid in a nursing home.
The highlights of her days came from hundreds of letters she received from children all over the world. This website credits Walter Hooper, secretary to Lewis, as saying that Lucy told him, “What a wonderful oasis of pleasure I have in this pretty terrible world, being recognised as Lucy. I have often thought how fortuitous it was that it turned out that way.”
The website quotes Hooper’s thoughts on the unforeseen benefits from the dedication: “It is like having something in the bank that your godfather has put aside to help you in lean times. It was just a compliment made by her father’s friend but it turned out to have greater significance than anyone could have guessed, including Lewis himself.”
Who could have imagined that a brief dedication in a book would have reached so far into the future to brighten a difficult life?
We can’t know—and we may never learn—how God might use the words we write to help others.
As I think about finishing up the first of my Matthew books, I pray that God will bless the grandson to whom it’s dedicated and many other readers. Whether I ever know it or not.
On June 16, 2013, about 80 people attended the first worship service of Providence Reformed Church at its new location in Des Moines. The beautiful sanctuary was filled with filtered light during a celebratory service emphasizing the lordship of Christ and the blessing of His completely accomplished atonement.
As part of a continuing series on the book of Matthew, Rev. Jody Lucero preached from Matthew 16:13-20 on Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
He began by sharing the “trilemma” of C.S. Lewis—Jesus was either a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord—and noted that many today would add a fourth “L” to consider Jesus merely as Legend. But in His day, Jesus was known to be at least a prophet. Peter’s confession demonstrated that Jesus was more than a prophet; He was truly the Christ, the Son of God, who as true man was anointed by God to be our Savior-King.s part of a continuing series on the book of Matthew, Rev. Jody Lucero preached from Matthew 16:13-20 on Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
“Do you embrace Jesus with a believing heart?” Rev. Lucero asked. “Do you rest in His finished work?” He stressed that living is not merely about Christ or with Christ or anything less than, “To live is Christ.”
Providence Reformed Church previously met for six years in a business park space. Worship is now in a church building in a residential area. “We have a neighborhood,” Rev. Lucero says.
He explains that the previous site had virtually no visibility, only a few separated rooms, and numerous maintenance challenges. That rental was also “barely” affordable for the congregation, making it difficult to save toward a church purchase. A few months ago, the owner notified Providence that the building was likely to be razed in 2014.
“As we begin a new phase in ministry,” he said, “God has been gracious to us. The Lord has also put us here to be an outpost and an embassy. It’s all for Him, to know Him and to make Him known to others. It’s not something for you to think about; it’s something for you to confess.”
Providence’s search for a different worship space resulted in a new rental agreement with an established Lutheran church close to Drake University in Des Moines. Many years ago, Redeemer Lutheran Church had outgrown its original building, constructed in 1955, and built a larger facility on the same property. The older building was converted to classrooms and connected to the newer one by hallways and the site’s original structure, a farmhouse over 100 years old.
Declining membership led the church to rent out the original building about ten years ago. That space had not been used for some time and board inserts still covered the front windows.
When Providence recently acquired the building, it needed a lot of cleaning and painting. Mandy Ives chose a pleasing color scheme to coordinate basement classrooms and fellowship area with the upstairs worship space. She and Amanda Lucero made an interesting discovery while working together.
“The day we painted the front sanctuary wall,” relates Amanda, “we decided to try to take the wood out of the windows to see what it looked like. The wood was really stuck in there and dirty. We were using everything we could to get those wood pieces out.”
The women discovered a stunning arched window at the front of the sanctuary. They brainstormed ways to allow its light to enter without too much glare behind the minister. Sheer curtains provided the perfect solution, minimizing backlighting while permitting natural light to filter through the beautiful window.
“We are so excited about our new space,” Amanda says. “It finally feels like a church, and it’s nice that we’ve been able to make it our own. We look forward to reaching out to the community and to the Drake students.”
Providence Reformed Church meets at 9:00 am and 5:00 pm in the smaller section of the Redeemer Lutheran Church complex at 3615 University Ave. Parking is in the back with Providence’s entry on the lower level of the east side. Fellowship meals are held after every evening service. On the first Sunday of each month, the Lord’s Supper is celebrated at the morning worship service, followed by a fellowship meal.
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 18 & 19 of the July 10, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.