Antony Flew grew up in a Christian home in London, where his father was a prominent Methodist minister. No doubt Antony's parents hoped and prayed that their son would follow them in their Christian faith. The young man was extremely gifted intellectually and, as a boy, attended a school for children of Methodist ministers, founded by John Wesley, the father of Methodism. While at that school, Kingswood School in Bath, England, Flew began to abandon the faith of his parents. He tells the story himself in this manner: "By the time I reached my fifteenth birthday, I rejected the thesis that the universe was created by an all-good, all-powerful God." Antony Flew had become an atheist.
Later, as an undergraduate at Oxford, Flew attended the weekly meetings of C. S. Lewis's Socratic Club, often engaging Lewis in debates concerning the existence of God. Flew went on to become the world's leading intellectual atheist, publishing some 40 works on atheism and often being described as atheism's foremost "evangelist." Flew also regularly engaged leading Christian apologists in debates concerning the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, and life after death. We can only imagine the pain this caused his Christian parents, who were giving their lives in Christian ministry. We can only imagine how they continued to pray for their son.
In 2007, I was returning from India and was changing planes in New York. During the brief layover I walked into an airport bookstore to find some reading material for the final flight home. While browsing in the philosophy section, I noticed what appeared to be a significant book: There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. The author? You guessed it—Antony Flew. I was stunned! I bought the book and read the whole thing on my flight back to Kansas City. It's probably the best apologetic work I've ever read on defending the existence of God. But it's more than just an argument for the existence of God; it is a fascinating autobiographical story of Flew's long, slow journey from atheism to belief in God.
Antony Flew is now 85 years old, and his parents have long since died. But their prayers live on—prayers that have now been answered. The strange and wonderful thing is, Antony Flew will probably end up doing more to bring people to belief in God through his late-in-life conversion following a lifetime of atheism than if he had followed his father into Christian ministry. I'm not suggesting that God was responsible for Flew's atheism—I don't believe that—but I am suggesting that this is a marvelous example of God working all things together for good. I suspect Flew's Methodist parents would agree.
How bad a day was it for Reverend and Mrs. Flew when their son announced that he had become an atheist? Could it perhaps have been the worst day of their lives? But that wasn't the end of the story. Flew's parents did not live to see the answer to their prayers, but their prayers have been answered nonetheless, and in some strange mystical way we really can't understand right now, I believe that this couple will one day indeed rejoice. They will laugh with joy, they will give praise to their God, and they will shake their heads as they wonder and marvel over the incredible power of God to turn their story around.
Could it be people like Reverend and Mrs. Flew whom the writer of Hebrews is referring to in Hebrews 11:13 when he writes, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them"?
In this life we will have some bad days. Some may be so bad that recovery seems impossible. But all things are possible to him who believes. On the worst day of your life, perhaps the best thing you can do is remember this promise: "All things work together for good," and dare to believe that your situation, too, will work out for good and that somehow everything is going to be all right. Remember, your times are in God's hand. He is the artist who has promised to weave all things in such a way that in the end your story will truly be a story of beauty, a work of art, God's masterpiece that can never be marred or touched, His beautiful tapestry of grace.
Editor's note: In the preface to his new book, What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life, Brian Zahnd writes: "Today a lot of people in America are going through a hard time: economic uncertainty, trillion-dollar bailouts, wide-scale layoffs, rising unemployment, massive home foreclosures, and the destructive repercussions from the stress these realitites place on families and individuals. And all this is happening in the context of tremendous social, cultural, political, and spiritual change in twenty-first century America." That's certainly not new news to those of us living in the midst of the conditions Zahnd describes—and there's nothing prophetic about it. But what is prophetic is the message Zahnd brings to those of us suffering from these and other calamities in our lives: "Everything is going to be all right." How does Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, know this is true? He believes the story of the biblical character David—and modern-day stories such as the one he shares below—provide proof that God is truly about the business of working all things together for our good. To read more about how God turned things around for David after he experienced the worst day of his life, and how David's response to tragedy can be a pattern for our own, go to http://www.whattodoontheworstdayofyourlife.com and purchase a copy of Zahnd's book for you, your pastor, your family members and your friends--especially those who are going through hard times. It's a life-changing message you won't want to keep to yourself.
And don’t forget to forward this e-newsletter on to others you know. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from Pastor Zahnd’s encouraging word!
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