I was looking for some reading the other day to feed my soul, to supplement my time in the Scriptures. Browsing the bookshelves in my office, I sort of picked up one book then another, opened it, read a little, and set it back down. Nope, that’s not what God has for me. I can’t altogether say why I knew. Partly because it fell flat; partly because I wasn’t interested. But over time you recognize that gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit. Here, this is what I am saying.
I found myself moved to grab two books: No Little People (a collection of sermons by Francis Schaeffer) and God in the Dock (a collection of essays by C.S. Lewis). I hadn’t picked up either of these volumes in a long time. For Schaeffer it had been a very long time. Both have played a vital role at different points in my spiritual journey. They feel like old friends.
Schaeffer was huge for me nearly thirty years ago, when I first became a Christian. I came to faith in Christ out of a very pagan background, and I wasn’t looking for a religion or a church. I was looking for the Truth. Schaeffer gave me a worldview, showed me how the truth of the Bible applied to every area of human culture. But he also gave me a beautiful understanding of “true spirituality” (the name of one of his books). Over time I moved on. I would recommend Schaeffer to thoughtful friends, but they didn’t seem to resonate with his philosophical approach.
Anyhow, back to the moment. I was preparing to go on this whirlwind Tour we’ve been doing across the US, and stepping into it already tired from a Boot Camp and an Advanced retreat for men and many other projects. We had prayed hard about this schedule; I did not trust it at all. I’ve preached against busy-ness and drivenness (in a CD called The Spirit of the Age) and I hate that way of life. But over and over I felt Jesus say, “This is what I want you to do.”
So I sit down, flip open Schaeffer to no place in particular, and begin reading. This is what my eyes fell upon:
“Both the Scriptures and the history of the church teach that if the Holy Spirit is working, the whole man will be involved and there will be much cost to the Christian. The more the Holy Spirit works, the more Christians will be used in battle, and the more they are used, the more there will be personal cost and tiredness. It is quite the opposite of what we might first think. People often cry out for the work of the Holy Spirit and yet forget that when the Holy Spirit works, there is always tremendous cost to the people of God, weariness and tears and battles.”
It was a consolation. There certainly have been weariness and tears and battles. The consolation was that this is part of the deal, part of what I signed up for when I gave my life to God, and when I asked to be used. The consolation was also Jesus saying, “You didn’t blow it; I asked you to do this. I am in this.” God used the words of this old friend (I had long ago underlined this passage) to speak to me what I needed to hear.