Please say “Yes!”
From the time of my (Holly’s) salvation, a few months before my fifth birthday, I began praying for my father to accept Christ as his personal Savior. For decades, I watched and prayed as he rejected God’s wooing and made what looked like an intentional choice to be his own master. Yet, I often saw him angry and dissatisfied and knew in my heart that God had the solution he needed. Having experienced God’s mercy, grace, and joy myself, I couldn’t imagine what held him back. Why wouldn’t he embrace the open, redemptive arms of Christ to enjoy a richer, fuller life? Juan’s explanation below, using the perspective of C.S. Lewis once again, really helped me to process a possible answer to this question.
C. S. Lewis--in addition to reminding us of God’s wooing to draw us to Himself and to meet needs that only His love can fulfill--also addresses the problem of (those) for whom God’s pursuit seems entirely ineffective. Lewis lays out a thorough case for a perfect pursuit without violating man’s freedom of choice. Notedly, our built-in element (“God-shaped vacuum”) is not imposed upon us as is obvious every time someone rejects the Gospel and chooses not to be wooed.
In light of such a complete and persuasive plan of pursuit, how is it that some fail to be persuaded and come to reconciliation? This is a theological problem that has challenged many great Christian thinkers. Lewis argues that there are at least two reasons for this:
- First, Lewis believes that sin limits the effectiveness of God’s pursuit. While man is made in God’s image, that image (was) distorted with the fall of man. Lewis argues that God, “shows much more of himself to some people than to others—not because He has favorites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition--just as sunlight, though it has no favorites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.”
- Lewis’ second line of argument … addresses the issue of free will. He believes that God would never violate man’s freedom of choice. In the concluding pages of Surprised by Joy, he references his conversion experience and insists on it having been entirely a free choice he made in response to God’s pursuit. He states it this way, “The odd thing was that before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.
- I felt myself, there and then, given a free choice.
- I could open the door or keep it shut …
- Neither choice was presented as duty; no threat or promise was attached to either …
- The choice appeared to be momentous, but it was also strangely unemotional.
- I was moved by no desires or fears … I am more inclined to think that this came nearer to being a perfectly free act than most that I have ever done” (Lewis, Surprised by Joy, 224).
Both of these arguments combined seem to provide a rational and biblical response to the dilemma of man rejecting God’s pursuit.
I am so thankful that the rest of my dad’s story doesn’t end with his resistance to Christ. Just two weeks prior to his passing in May 2016, he made a profession of faith while talking to his hospice nurse--God’s angel to our family during his last days. I believe that, although he was in extreme pain in those final hours, Dad was experiencing the promise given to those who ...
“Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Dad’s will to hang on until the last of his children had arrived to say goodbye was his ultimate loving act. With his final breath, he looked up--beyond us--only to be surprised by joy and a glorious resting place for his soul.
Praise the Lord that he finally responded to the wooing of God.
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