“[…] the very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting. There, to have is to want and to want is to have. Thus, the very moment when I longed to be so stabbed again, was itself again such a stabbing.”
And when God and His Joy didn’t show up the way Lewis expected:
“[…] being an idolator and a formalist, I insisted that He ought to appear in the temple I had built Him, not knowing that He cares only for temples building and not at all for temples built.”
How often do I do this? God does something, draws near in a certain way, and…Joy! But almost immediately I begin to build a temple for the experience, desperately wanting it to come again, in just the same way (but maybe stronger). I often make the “first and deadly error”, as Lewis puts it, of turning from the object to the state of mind that the object brings; from God to the thrill of His nearness. I try to build an ark or a tabernacle so He will stay there, so I can somehow tether his presence like a kite, anchor it like a ship.
But Lewis points out that this is in vain; He’s only interested in the “temple building.” He’s moved on again, so quickly, leaped over to the next cold statue to breathe life into it. Staying behind and trying to find Him where He was is fruitless – it’s attempting to find warmth from a fire that is now merely ashes. Once He leaves and moves on, there is no longer anything special about that place; it’s cold and dead. Lewis compares it to the women seeking the risen Jesus at the tomb. The angel says to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen.” And that’s how it is with God – we have to keep chasing Him, moving where and when He moves. It’s like the Israelites in the wilderness, always at the ready to break up camp the moment Yahweh advanced. We must realize that He doesn’t fly on to the next place without us or to get away from us, but to keep us moving…there’s so much to do and so much to see; we’re always going further up and further in!