C.S. Lewis: Taking Time to Receive During the Christmas Season

“He is a giver. And He has nothing to give but Himself.”

C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm

Twelve words arranged with great intention. In context, Lewis is nowhere near the topic of Christmas. In the fictional tête-à-tête about prayer, “Letters to Malcolm,” Lewis is speaking about creation and the Creator never doing anything by Himself, but always involving others. His words, however, are also quite applicable during Yuletide.

Giving is aplenty with mankind during this time of year. We are prone to think of gifts when giving is mentioned, but giving extends beyond the physical. Husbands and wives are giving their time and mental energy as they coordinate with parents and in-laws and others regarding holiday schedules. The holiday centerpiece, the Christmas dinner, is being planned with food lists being compiled and assigned to the proper parties involved. Parents also give of their time and patience as they hunt down the year’s most popular toys for their little ones. Comfort is given up as one subjects him or herself to crowded streets and shopping malls. And for the brave amongst us, there is holiday travel. Much is given up during this logistical labyrinth.

As one sinks into a relative’s recliner after the gift-giving and feasting, only soft and comfortable because of the workout an uncle or grandfather has given it for the past fifteen years, the effects of giving set in.  The planning, effort, and spending cause one to feel the depletion. Giving takes something out of us.  It makes us less of who we were the moments or days before the charity was expressed. This time of year depletes our energy, our spirits, and our pocketbooks. Replenishment and rejuvenation come with time, rest, and hours in the office … and they also come, most importantly, with meditation and worship.

Giving: A strength revealing our weaknesses

Giving is an expression, but it is also a great reminder, a reminder of our weaknesses and of One who never is depleted and weak. When God created the universe and mankind, He was not depleted. When He planned the intricate path of redemption for mankind, He was not depleted. When He exercised great patience with His people in the deserts of the Sinai peninsula, He was not depleted. When He and His Son experienced the most heart-wrenching moment of their eternal relationship, He was not depleted in the least. He cannot be depleted of spirit, strength, or wealth. His mind does not grow weary. He is other than us—holy. Therefore, “He has nothing to give but Himself,” which is perfect for weak souls such as us.

Inspiration, renewal always come from a source greater than us in one or many aspects. As we experience physical and spiritual depletion this December, let us fix our souls upon the Giver who gave Himself, Jesus, the “pure light, [who] walk[ed] the earth.”  He received “darkness into the heart of Deity” and “there swallowed [it] up.”

*Excerpts from “Letters to Malcolm”, ch. 13.


This article originally published at HarperCollins’ CSLewis.com.

Updated on December 19, 2019.