It was the last cricket match of the season. We were playing the bottom team in the league and heading for an ignoble defeat. Our illustrious captain, a good natured, generous and charming man had gone to sleep. Our opening bowler, Colin, had bowled unchanged for about twelve overs. In his late fifties he was obviously knackered. Occasionally our captain would cry out from deep fine leg where he was skulking after being knocked out of the attack by a belligerent opening batsman, "All right Col?" The question was always greeted by a wave. I think it corresponded to the Queen Mother's 'all is well with me' wave. It was plain to everyone in the team, except our captain, that all was not well with Colin. He swayed from side to side as he ran up to the wicket, his legs buckled and his arm got lower and lower at the point of delivery. The opposition batsmen were enjoying themselves - chatting cheerfully between overs. In the end I could stand it no longer. I shouted to the captain, "Do you want to win this match or are you determined to lose it. It is time for a change for goodness sake."

Our captain is such an affable, laid-back individual until either my brother or I give him advice! If we so much as gently question his field placing he is transformed into something akin to a cornered jackal. He shouted back, yes, shouted at me, "You just say what you want me to do JR, anything to shut you up!"

Now this wasn't very polite but it gave me hope. I foolishly believed that just this once he was going to do as I suggested. This represented a monumental breakthrough - our captain was willing to accept my advice. So I said, "Take Colin off and give yourself a couple of overs".

He took Colin off - and brought on Tiggy! When it came to the crunch he just couldn't do it; he could not break the habit of a life time; he could not surrender to another's judgement; his pride would not let him.

This incident reminded me very much of Edmund Gosse's admission in his autobiographical book, 'Father and Son'. As a boy Gosse had a comprehensive grasp of the Christian Gospel. He could speak with eloquence about man's sin, the need for repentance, the saving work of Jesus on the cross and the gift of eternal life to the believer. He wished to be good and holy and earnestly desired to follow where his pious father led. However, through thick and thin he clung to a hard nut of individuality, deep down in his childish nature. To the pressures from without he resigned everything else, his thoughts, his words, his anticipations, his assurance, but there was something that he never resigned, his innate and persistent self. He could not do it - surrender his life to another.

It is this more than anything else that keeps young people who know the truth about Jesus from becoming Christians. They will not surrender to another's judgement; accept the authority of the Nazarene - they just cannot do it.

Mt10v39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.