‘Words to Live By’ – from Clyde Kilby

Recently, I came across some suggestions – words to live by – written by Clyde Kilby. Kilby was a professor of English at Wheaton College for more than 45 years, and authored The Christian World of C. S. Lewis, regarded as one of the best introductions to Lewis’s writings. Like Lewis, Kilby cut through the clutter of life, and isolated ways we can really live. Let me pass on a few.

Kilby writes: I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies. We all are ‘carried along’ on an endless succession of noise, activity, distractions, and information, and it can devour our lives, one moment at a time, if we don’t intentionally stop. Kilby adds: I shall try to keep truly alive now just because the only time that exists is now. Worry leads to despair, but trusting the Lord each day brings peace. Jesus reminds us in His Sermon on the Mount, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Another of Kilby’s suggestions is this: At least once each day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I…am on a planet traveling in space with everlastingly mysterious things above and about me. Our humanistic and materialistic culture pulls us toward unending stress, telling us that ‘it’s all up to us’ and ‘we are in control of our own destiny.’ When we remember how small we are, we are reminded of how big our creator God is. Kilby adds: Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I will simply be glad that they are. It may seem like wasted time to us, but pausing to see God’s creative hand is uplifting.

Reflecting on the hardships we all encounter in life, Kilby writes: I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely, ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood. Scripture constantly exalts the maturing quality of trials. We try to avoid them at all costs. Perhaps Kilby was reflecting the words of Lewis, who wrote that ‘God whispers in our pleasures, and shouts in our pains.’ The biblical admonition to ‘consider it all joy when you encounter various trials,’ because those trials result in spiritual maturity (Jas. 1.2-4), is a precious, if unappreciated, truth.

Finally, Kilby writes: Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand, with joy, as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega. The life of faith is just that, a life of faith. Paul reminds us that as Christians, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5.7). If God is God – and He has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus – then we can trust His omnipotent hand to guide our lives. And as we do, the tapestry of His love and grace, borne in eternity, revealed in time, will become ever-more real to us.