The RELUCTANT Convert
Guideposts|April 2021
How the beloved author of the Chronicles of Narnia helped a struggling veteran rediscover his faith
JEREMIAH BRAUDRICK

For much of my life, I have as-sumed that I was a spiritual failure. How can that be? I’m a pastor. A father. A Marine veteran.

I run a ministry that provides church services to inmates in Oklahoma prisons. I do my best to make God real to people desperate for something to believe in. How could a spiritual failure do all that?

Wind back the clock 12 years. I was transitioning to civilian life after eight years of military service, including combat duty in Afghanistan. My marriage was falling apart. I’d pretty much abandoned my faith during my time in the service. I suffered from depression. I was convinced God saw me as a worthless failure, and I agreed.

You know what pulled me out of all that? A quote I saw on Facebook. It was one of those random inspirational quotes people post. It read: “I have found (to my regret) that the degrees of shame and disgust which I actually feel at my own sins do not at all correspond to what my reason tells me about their comparative gravity.”

The language was complicated and formal, like something an Oxford don would write. I heard a simple message: Maybe my feelings of spiritual worthlessness weren’t the final word about me. Maybe I wasn’t the best judge of God’s attitude.

Maybe I had a chance after all. The author’s name? C. S. Lewis. Was that the same C. S. Lewis who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia books I’d read as a child? Was he a Christian?

It was like he knew exactly what I felt and exactly what I needed to hear.

Who was this guy? Answering that question changed my life. Along the way, I learned something about C. S. Lewis—a military veteran like me—that strengthened my reawakening faith.

C. S. Lewis was a best-selling Christian writer, a professor of medieval English literature at Oxford (his alma mater) and Cambridge universities and, yes, the author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

More than a century after his birth, in 1898, he remains beloved by millions. I encourage readers with a military background to give him a try.

Lewis was raised in a churchgoing Irish family but began to question his faith during his teens. At age 19, he was sent by the British Army to the front lines of World War I and fought as an infantryman in the hideous trenches. He was wounded by shellfire and returned home a committed atheist. More than a decade passed after his military service before he rediscovered his faith.

Lewis knew the psychic wounds soldiers carry. He also knew how God can redeem all of that.

Thanks to Lewis, I now know too. I can’t quite pinpoint the moment I lost my childhood faith. I grew up around church, but things got complicated after my parents split up and my mom joined what turned out to be a Christian cult.

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