Matt and His Grandmother
by Linden Wolfe
As Matt ordered yet another beer, his profanity-laced tirade rose to a crescendo. By this time other patrons at the restaurant had begun to take notice and cast furtive glances in our direction. He was using every expletive that I knew of (and some that I didnít) in cursing God and Jesus. His rage was blasphemous and venomous. I had never heard such a hatred of God or the frightening statement Ė "I hope that I burn in hell so that I donít ever have to ever see Jesus. If I did, Iíd kill him"! Matt, you did. But, so did I.
Earlier, I had inadvertently gotten into a "theological" discussion with Matt. He was an avowed atheist (which made me wonder who he was cursing) and believed that we were all "just energy". I tried every argument Ė Pascalís Wager, the Watchmaker, practical, ontological, etc. Ė that I new of. But to no avail. He was still convinced that God didnít exist. But what was the crux of his strident disbelief? Suffering. More specifically, it was the suffering of his grandmother.
She was a devout woman of faith. Matt claimed that "she was more holy than Mother Teresa". However, in her last few days she suffered from the effects of a stroke and died. According to Matt, he wished it were him that had suffered and a loving God would not have allowed this to happen. It was classic disbelief.
I was stumped Ė absolutely dumfounded. I could summon up no argument to pacify his rage. I sat I silence and pondered Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints". So I asked this question: "So your grandmother believed in Jesus"? He replied, "Oh yes, His name was one of the last things that she said".
Then God intervened and I blurted out, "One of the reasons that I believe in God is because of the faith of people like your grandmother. I really want to be like them that believe so much that their faith endures to the very bitter end. People like your grandmother are heroes to me and their faith helps confirm my belief in God. I really believe that I will see her one day". Silence ensued. Then, this "manís man" with all of his bravado came unglued and heaved with uncontrolled tears and sobbing. Matt had completely broken down. And the stares from the diners reappeared.
He wept for what seemed like hours. Again, I was rendered paralyzed, unable to speak or move. The grieving continued. Then there was deafening silence. I was exhausted and so was he. Finally, all of his 6 feet, 2 inches and 220 plus pounds stood. He shook my hand and hugged me (you know, the traditional "man hug"). Calmly he said, "I donít agree with you but I appreciate you. Maybe Iíll see you again someday and then Iíll buy you a beer". "Oh", I said, "I hope we do cross paths again but you donít have to buy me a thing. I enjoyed our chat".
Matt left immediately and I stood there awash in my inadequacy and smallness. I was not equipped for this providential discussion. I could only recognize that my God was. It could only be Him, and Him alone, that could call, convict and convert my new friend. Given my helpless and pathetic attempt at explaining the greatness and majesty of Godís infinite love and grace, I could do nothing more that lift a prayer of thanksgiving for my Lordís unfathomable power. Joy swept over me as I was confronted with my weakness in light of His overcoming greatness.
Letís ask God to accost Matt. Letís pray, right now, that Godís saving power will overrule Mattís hardened and hating heart. We should do this because we are so powerless yet His word says that, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance". (2 Peter 3:9). After all, He alone can do this work and, in the end, He alone will be glorified.