Romans 8:31

Old_Oregon_license_platesLast winter, I wrote about some thoughts prompted by a bumper sticker.

Today, on the way home from work I followed a car with a North Carolina license that read GODIS4YU. Or maybe it was GODIS4U, I’m not sure. Either way, it was intended to say “God is for you.”

This got me to wondering if it would be more accurate to say that God is for me, or that I am for God. That is, God is God regardless of anything I think, say, do, or believe; and he created me for the purpose of giving him glory — not so that I might live a smooth, happy life. But I can choose to ignore him if I want.

There was also a sticker or decal or whatever on the car showing a silhouette of a nativity scene, underscoring the license plate’s message: God reached out toward us in a significant way.

Incidentally, at the bottom of the sticker were the words, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” a slogan I don’t particularly like. Why? Because from the beginning, Christmas was a pagan event. It’s not a matter of modern people keeping Christ in Christmas so much as it is the 3rd Century church cramming Christ into a celebration in which he didn’t belong, like a square peg in a round hole. No wonder it’s so hard to keep him there! I understand the “Keep Christ in Christmas” sentiment, but it strikes me as being a bit contorted. I’d rather see something to the effect of “Let’s keep Christ in the forefront of our minds every waking minute and worship him 365 days a year even if he wasn’t born in December.” But that doesn’t have the same ring to it.

SONY DSCAnyway, back to the license plate: While debating the question of whether God is for me or if I am for God, and examining the various facets of the argument instead of thinking about driving (no, I did not get in a wreck while my mind wandered! but I needed an image to illustrate this post), I, um…

…I lost my train of thought. Note to self: you might also find a railroad train image to add.

(…rereading what I’ve written to try to catch the train…) Oh, yeah, that’s it! While debating whether or not I agreed with the license plate’s statement, I thought of an illustration.

For several years, Craig worked closely with a guy whom we’ll call Fred (not his real name), and they were pretty good friends. We were also friends with Fred’s wife Ethel (not her real name either). Then Fred was in a motorcycle accident and sustained permanent brain injuries. After that, he couldn’t drive and couldn’t work, though he still had sufficient use of his body and his faculties that there were many things he still could do. In fact, he probably could have worked somewhere–he just wasn’t able to do what he used to.

file1641276604780Meanwhile, Ethel lost her job because she took off so much time to care for him. So then they were both unemployed.

Craig and I visited him in the hospital right from the beginning, then visited them at home, and did what we could to help and encourage them. But despite the advice of doctors, professional counselors, family, and friends, Fred wouldn’t get off his duff and go anywhere or do anything. All he wanted to do was sleep and drink.

Ethel was a drinker too, and drank more and more the farther downhill her husband slid.

Eventually and reluctantly, we washed our hands of them. When people are determined to continue in their self-destructive behavior despite others’ attempts to help, there’s really not much their friends can do for them.Raveningham Hall (2) cropped

So today, while tailgating the car from North Carolina so I could read the license plate and all the stickers and magnets decorating the car (there were others as well as the ones I’ve mentioned), I thought of how God did everything possible to pull us out of the fire, requiring nothing of us but to accept what he wants to give us. But if we won’t take him up on his offer of redemption, there’s nothing left to be done.

When we choose to turn our backs on God, he allows us stay on the train we’ve chosen (Romans 1:18-32).

I can’t honestly say Craig and I did everything possible to help Fred and Ethel. I do believe that doctors and counselors and family did all they could, and we tried to  help as well though I don’t claim there were no extra miles we might have walked. But it was heartbreaking to see them ruin their lives despite everyone’s efforts.

In God’s case, he truly did do everything possible for mankind. How it must grieve him when we reject him!


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