"A squeezing, wrenching, gasping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster…He carried his low temperature about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.”
This is the harsh description of Ebenezer Scrooge, a selfish miser who is the central character of Charles Dickens’s classic, A Christmas Carol (popular movie renditions made in 1951 and 2009). He hates anything to do with Christmas and, for that matter, people in general. His goal in life is to acquire and keep as much money as possible, even at the expense of others.
Throughout the movie, Scrooge is warned by others of his selfish ways, but to no avail. He assaults anyone who alludes to his self-centered worldview and isolated lifestyle. Most consider him a lost cause.
Later in the story, Scrooge is confronted by several “spirits.” One of them shows Scrooge his past and his selfish choices that resulted in a trail of broken relationships.
Another confronts him with the reality of the present, particularly the dire straits of those to whom he turns a blind and uncaring eye, including the family of his own impoverished employee, Bob Cratchit.
The third spirit presents the future, which includes the final consequences of divine judgment he will face if he does not repent.
In the end, Scrooge comes to his senses, repents, and becomes a new man. Though Jesus Christ is not explicitly stated, there is a parallel of redemption within the story.
It is interesting to me that though Scrooge is warned repeatedly about his condition, it took supernatural intervention to break through the walls of his heart. The spirits were able to do something that Scrooge’s family, friends, and acquaintances could not—convict him of his sin and need for redemption.
The story serves as a reminder that no one, no matter how hardened, is out of the reach of the love and grace of God.
There may be someone in your life that you have been trying to reach for years. Your efforts may feel like, as one put it, “Pouring water on a rock. Nothing seems to get through to them.”
However, nothing is impossible for God. Just as the three spirits convicted Scrooge using the guilt of his past, the precariousness of his present, and doom of the future, the Holy Spirit can work to break through to the heart of unbelievers and uses a variety of ways and people to do so.
Jesus refers to this work in John 16:8: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
At the end of Dicken’s story, Scrooge exclaims, “Can you forgive a pig-headed old fool with no eyes to see with and no ears to hear with all these years?”
Thank the Lord that through the Holy Spirit, he has given us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive His grace. Had the Lord not intervened, we would be doomed. But may He also give us faith in reaching those who are hard to reach, knowing that no one is beyond His ability to save.
As someone put it, “there is no nut too hard for God to crack.” Keep praying, keep loving, and keep pointing to Jesus, and leave the results in His capable hands.