Monday, April 04, 2005

A confession (subtitle: pray for Eleanor Clift)

I have a confession to make.

Actually, I have many confessions to make. The one I am going to make here has to do with Eleanor Clift.

I've observed Ms. Clift for decades. I probably saw her first on The McLaughlin Group. Then I've endured... er, read various of her statements, jabs, and essays.

Eleanor Clift could always be counted on to be on the wrong side of any given issue. I can't remember ever agreeing with her about anything, or thinking she contributed anything useful to any subject under discussion. Ever! Let me put it this way: if she said she thought there was nothing wrong with the ice cream in my mouth, I'd consider spitting it out and having a lab analyze it.

And not only is she always wrong, she's always wrong in the smuggest, smarmiest, most condescending and sneery way possible. She oozes contempt and appallment — which, if it isn't a word, should be — at any differing opinion. Or at any rate, at any opinion with differs from hers rightward, or Christianward, or in any way Bibleward.

Having said that....

I just read her very touching essay, Dying with Courage. It is about her husband's death by cancer (hat-tip to Michelle Malkin). This passage put tears in my eyes:
On a Sunday morning in March as his condition worsened and the morphine dose was doubled, he asked me clearly, “What do you want to do this summer?” I said, “Take a trip with you,” and then I went into the kitchen to fix his cream of rice cereal, and fight back tears.

...which brings us to the confession part: I can't remember ever praying for Eleanor Clift.

Now, I can't blame Eleanor Clift for not thinking, acting, writing, nor talking like a Christian, simply because as far as I know she does not claim to be one. But I can surely blame myself for such a failure, because I do make that claim.

And I generally do pray for my enemies, or try to. I've prayed for Osama bin Ladin, Bill Clinton, Saddam Hussein, and a host of others. But I can't recall ever praying for Eleanor Clift.

Obviously I can't claim that it is because I've never noticed her, because clearly I have. Again and again. Nor can I hide behind the excuse that I wasn't aware that she had any spiritual needs, because I am keenly aware that she does.

I think it was just because she comes off so smug, so hostile, so self-assured, and so hard.

But then, I had been no different. The Lord saved me when I was seventeen, but I had already done my best to head people away from Christ for all I was worth. I hated Christianity and Christians. If anyone had seemed to be heading towards Jesus, I did my best to stand in the way. And if anyone was already there, I worked to raise doubts and questions, or at least to shut him up.

Apart from God's convicting, shattering, converting grace, thirty years later, I'd have been harder, more hostile, more arrogant, more smug.

Christians who knew me doubtless saw me as just as hopeless and pointless as I saw Eleanor Clift. Some prayed for me regardless; probably others didn't.

But now I've walked with Christ for over thirty years, gotten theological degrees. pastored, preached... and I certainly know better on every level than to decide that there is no point praying for someone.

So what is my excuse?

I have none. Just this confession of my lame, indefensible sin.

This essay showed me that maybe she isn't quite so tough, anyway. Or maybe she is. It doesn't really matter, as to whether or not I should pray for her. The essay reminded me that inside Eleanor Clift is still a human being. A sinner, true; a hardened sinner, perhaps. But I read that Jesus came into the world for the express purpose of saving sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Not certain kinds of sinners, and certainly not sinners I deem savable. Just sinners. And if He did that, then I should pray for sinners.

And so I ask God's forgiveness, and I pray for Eleanor Clift.

Join me, won't you? Pray that God will touch her in this dark time, that He will not let her be satisfied with platitudes or denial or whistling past the graveyard. Pray that He will show her her deep need, His glory, and Christ's supreme excellence. Pray that He will draw her to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

God does save hardened, smarmy, smug, Christ-hating unbelievers.

I'm proof.

UPDATE: just about the same things, with adjustments to the particulars, could be said about Peter Jennings, who is now diagnosed with lung cancer. We Christians should pray similarly for him as well.

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