Over the past several years I have had pleasant correspondence with Dave Black via email and he even bought me breakfast once. I never got to meet his wife, but his writings, her writings, and his words about marriage when I mentioned to him my plans to propose to my then girlfriend all pointed to the reality that she lived as a disciple of Jesus.
In the New Testament there is something to Lewis’ description of every human as
…possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. (Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis)
In Acts, Paul and Barnabas are comically mistaken for Zeus and Hermes due to their piety and wisdom, Paul notes that every Christian has been “predestined by God to be conformed to the image of his Son [Jesus].” Peter states that God’s promises to us are given that we might become, “partakers of the divine nature.” The list goes on. The fact of the matter is that some people you meet or hear about and without putting them on a pedestal or imagining them as sinless, you just notice something especially directed towards the holy. A woman at my church named Kathleen is this way. Her life, however flawed and marred by sin and suffering, points as a positive sign toward the divine. Becky Black gave that impression to others. Her last breath was, as I think Paul would say a weak victory for Satan indeed. So weak in fact that she finished the race. Not even death can separate God’s saints from his love. That’s the point. The problem of Satan’s brief victories via the power of death (a scorpion whose stinger has been removed) is stated by Lewis from the perspective of a frustrated demon at the death of his nephews client (a temptee):
He saw not only Them; he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man. You would like, if you could, to interpret the patient’s prostration in the Presence, his self-abhorrence and utter knowledge of his sins (yes, Wormwood, a clearer knowledge even than yours) on the analogy of your own choking and paralysing sensations when you encounter the deadly air that breathes from the heart of Heaven. But it’s all nonsense. Pains he may still have to encounter, but they embrace those pains. They would not barter them for any earthly pleasure. All the delights of sense, or heart, or intellect, with which you could once have tempted him, even the delights of virtue itself, now seem to him in comparison but as the half nauseous attractions of a raddled harlot would seem to a man who hears that his true beloved whom he has loved all his life and whom he had believed to be dead is alive and even now at his door. He is caught up into that world where pain and pleasure take on transfinite values and all our arithmetic is dismayed. Once more, the inexplicable meets us. Next to the curse of useless tempters like yourself the greatest curse upon us is the failure of our Intelligence Department. If only we could find out what He is really up to! Alas, alas, that knowledge, in itself so hateful and mawkish a thing, should yet be necessary for Power! Sometimes I am almost in despair. All that sustains me is the conviction that our Realism, our rejection (in the face of all temptations) of all silly nonsense and claptrap, must win in the end. Meanwhile, I have you to settle with.
May the Lord be with brother Dave and his family.