The Christian internet is a strange place and that may be the understatement of the year. Lines drawn in the sand, critiques and criticisms lobbied back and forth, tempers flared, hysteria and histrionics, all are part and parcel of the issue or tragedy of the day. Truly it is exhausting, not to mention confusing, trying to determine who or what one is supposed to agree with on a given day.
One of the latest evangelical brouhahas involves Mark Driscoll and some comments he made at a recent conference. In the midst of the social media flurry of censure and reproach–or perhaps because of it–Jared Wilson posted “John Piper and Mark Driscoll Talked Me Off a Bridge.” In his post, and you really must read it, Wilson describes how the Lord used the ministries of these two men to, in Jared’s words, save his life.
I was clinging to the hem of Christ’s garment then, sleeping in our guest bedroom, by which I mean living in the guest bedroom and spending plenty of nights face down on the carpet groaning. I was picking up the crumbs where I could find them. Two sources of bread. The podcasts of the aforementioned Pastors Mark and John. I was getting a vision of a very big Jesus with a very big grace for sinners from them. And the Spirit used their preaching in those days to work a gospel renaissance in my life, a miracle really. My wife can attest to that.
Wilson acknowledged the possibility of some “some pushback if only because of those names you see up there in the title,” but attests “this is part of my story, part of my gospel wakefulness, and it is a part I will never deny or disavow.”
Like many who read that post I thought of my story, my gospel wakefulness, and the men and women, sinners all, who the Lord used in profound ways. Two watershed moments come immediately to mind, their influence on me so profound that their memory remains clear and distinct.
I’ve told you before of my first taste of in depth Bible study. I was a young mom of a toddler and a baby, the baby then only weeks old. An older woman in our church offered a Bible study on Sunday afternoons, “A Heart Like His” by Beth Moore. I remember reading the details in our church newsletter and telling my husband I thought I’d attend. Why, I don’t know, apart, of course, from the Lord’s providential grace. I clearly recall sitting at the table in the church classroom at the close of the first video session, looking to my friend who sat next to me and saying “Wow.”
Wow, indeed. Does it seem crazy to you that I, who had grown up in church, had no idea that the Bible could be known like that? Or that a woman could teach like that? I was blown away. The Lord used that study, that teacher, to birth in me a passion for His Word and for teaching and for theology and for study and for encouraging women in the deeper things of the Lord. This is part of my story and I am indebted to Beth Moore.
I have also related many times the incident of me on my back patio reading a book on grace and my inner legalist being so shocked that at the close of the book I said aloud, “That can’t be right.” Which is, you know, how every law-bound self-righteous Pharisee responds to the scandal of true grace. That book was “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning and its effect on me and my understanding of grace was nothing short of profound. I’m re-reading it now and finding its depiction of God’s grace to ragamuffins like me to be encouraging, and yes, still a little shocking. This too is part of my story and I am grateful for it.
Manning and Moore both have their critics in certain corners of the Christian world but their part in my story I cannot disavow.
Truly there are many more men and women, some famous, some not, who faithfully served the Lord and in so doing affected my life in ways they could not know. The countless Sunday school teachers of my growing up years. My pastor and his blog posts that I read long before he was my pastor. Many of you who are reading these words and your blogs. John Piper and the first book of his I ever read, “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her books “Brokenness” and “Surrender” that I used to facilitate a group at a time when both brokenness and surrender seemed far too painful a price. The list goes on and on.
I am part of their legacy of faith, God pouring His grace on me, a sinner, through the lives and ministries of other sinners–isn’t that just like Him? It pleases Him to use the foolish and the folly of what they preach to save those who believe. Indeed He chose the low and despised, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are so that we might not boast before Him. Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Not man, not a book, not a preacher. Jesus. We boast in Him. (1 Cor. 1:18-31)
Wilson closes his post with the admonition to preach the gospel:
Don’t stop preaching the gospel. And if you don’t preach the gospel, start. Then don’t stop. You don’t know whose life you are saving. Not you, really, but God.
God is in his gospel faithfully proclaimed doing his thing, talking people off bridges. Me? I’ll never forget. So I’ll never stop.
His grace is not without effect, yes and amen. Let us be found faithful!
Who has the Lord used in your life? To whom are you grateful for their faithful ministry? Who is part of your story, a part you cannot deny or disavow?