Ravi Zacharias tells a story that he heard personally from Malcolm Muggeridge, the legendary English journalist, author, and media personality. Muggeridge had spent some time with Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Joseph Stalin, while they were working together on a BBC production on the life of her father. Joseph Stalin was, of course, the communist leader who once ruled Russia with a sadistic mentality and an incomprehensible coldness. During his reign untold millions of people were put to death by his command. The numbers are so high that experts can only give broad estimates as to the actual total.
According to the story that Svetlana told Muggeridge, and Muggeridge in turn told Zacharias, Stalin was plagued by terrifying hallucinations as he lay dying on his bed. Then suddenly he sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead. It was if his last gesture in life was literally a clenched fist toward God.
It would be easy to assume that Stalin lived his entire life in steadfast opposition to the concept of God, but that would be a wrong assumption. The fact is that when he was sixteen he received a scholarship to a Georgian Orthodox seminary. He even did well in his classes there until he missed his final exams and was expelled. Not long afterward he began reading the writings of Vladimir Lenin and became a Marxist revolutionary.
Looking back over Stalin’s life it isn’t hard to deduce that he had an excellent opportunity not only to receive Christ as Savior but also to spend his life in service to Him. That is, after all, what seminary students usually do. But somewhere along the way Stalin came to a spiritual crossroad and chose to reject Jesus. Then, like Pharaoh in the Old Testament story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, once the hardening of his heart began there was no stopping it.
We should all take Stalin’s example and learn from it. For one thing, it is a dangerous thing to reject Jesus when He comes to you offering salvation. For another, even if you are a Christian, it is a dangerous thing when He comes to you offering guidance, direction, and commands for your life. To reject light is to embrace darkness. To rebel against a word from the Lord is to choose to walk in your own foolishness. To shun blessing is to invite judgment.
So, has the Lord been telling you to do something? Maybe He has been convicting you of your need of the salvation found only in Jesus. Or, if you have experienced that salvation, maybe He has been giving you some specific command or word of wisdom concerning a situation. Well, all I can say is that whatever He has been sharing with you, you need to grab hold of it and incorporate it fully into your life. I’m not saying that you will ever end up like Joseph Stalin, but I am saying that there is always a great danger in clenching your fist toward the Lord and saying, “No.” With that in mind, I’ll leave you with the words of Proverbs 29:1:
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.