The Drunken. The Rich. The Choice.
Carl was stumbling down the street that night. Since that night, I’ve seen him parade down the street like this almost every weekend. I wouldn’t even call us acquaintances really. I met him one day while street evangelizing with a group from our school.
Carl was in a heated discussion with a lower-classman from Central Bible College. I was watching from a near distance – waiting for an opportunity to cut in, since I am no good at the small talk that entails to starting a debate as such. From what I understood, I could only tell a couple things about Carl: that he was a deist, and he was a little tipsy.
So I found an opportunity to enter the conversation as I realized the freshman was entering a stage of dumb-founded-ness by what Carl was saying. I could not let this half-drunk “know-it-all” show my God up! So I used some apologetic word trickery (nothing like Jedi mind tricks, yet a little conniving to do to a drunk man – though he was a very intelligent inebriated person) and got him to get to a place where he didn’t have an answer.
“Why would an ‘impersonal god’ make relational beings?”
It was as though Carl never thought of this question before. I stood there, waiting for Carl to decide what he wanted to say, how he wanted to answer, and then the unthinkable happened… he changed the subject.
I always thought if someone was shown the truth, that they would see this truth, and in turn, accept. But this night it didn’t happen. Carl changed the subject, made a phone call, and got a ride out of there within the next five minutes. I really wasn’t being offensive. Before that, he was the hostile one towards the poor freshman. And here I was wondering how someone who seemed so logical could just ignore something so obvious right in front of their face. And then it hit me…
Carl didn’t want to believe in God, because then he would have to give God his life.
And Carl didn’t want to do that. He seemed pretty happy in his drunken stooper, in his fermented bliss of ignorance, because he didn’t want to give up control of his life. He wanted to remain coaxed by the hedonistic lifestyle he was living.
This story reminds me of a parable that Jesus told. There was a rich man who would walk by a poor beggar, Lazarus, every single day. When both men died, they both ended up in some existential abyss described only as “Abraham’s Bosom.” The rich man cried out to Lazarus and Abraham, who was at Lazarus’ side. The rich man begged to Abraham to send Lazarus so that he could return from the dead and warn the rich man’s family of the coming judgment. But Abraham said, “…. they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
One of the greatest gifts that God has given us is free will. And in the end, people will do what they want. You can have all the answers to their questions, show all the flaws in their arguments, but you can’t change a person’s mind. They can only do so, and that is itself only by the grace of God.
I think part of surrender is being able to accept that you don’t have control of everything. Let go of the burden that is holding you down. Whether it’s a loved one, a family member, or a co-worker – keep persevering – but know that God is ultimately the One who convicts hearts, and the only One that can lead one to repentance.
And all you can do is point people toward Him. They have to choose themselves to follow Him.