|Painting by Robert Bucknell|
I first heard of Charles Spurgeon from a fellow InterVarsity member when I was in college. I still remember his exact words: "Spurgeon is awesome!" To be honest, my first thought was, "Why on earth would someone want to read anything by a long-dead Baptist preacher?"
Fast forward nearly 30 years. The bottom had just dropped out of my marriage. I wasn't attending a local church at the time, which is another story. I had no idea where to turn for help, so I called a close friend who promptly told me, "You need to read some Spurgeon." I wasn't sure what advice a 19th-century minister could give to a 21st-century woman who was facing a broken marriage, but I was desperate. I googled "Charles Spurgeon" to see what I would find. The first site on Google's list was The Spurgeon Archive. This seemed like a good place to start, so I clicked the link for the daily devotions. Given my present state, it would not be an exaggeration to say that I had never read anything like this in my life.
Even though I had been a believer since childhood, my view of God was pretty pitiful. Like Job, I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that God would allow His children to suffer, and like Job's friends, there was a nagging sense that if I had been a better Christian, none of this would be happening right now. On top of this, I was spiritually malnourished from the lack of sound teaching and fellowship.
My view of God was small, but Spurgeon's view of God was BIG. The God he described was glorious and awesome in His holiness and power. Yet He was unchanging in His love for and faithfulness to His children. If there was any doubt on that score, look at the Cross and look at Christ. He also ordains every second of our lives, watching over us as a loving Father who has our eternal good in mind.
This was food and drink to my starving soul. I eagerly read Morning and Evening and Faith's Checkbook each day. I printed out sermon after sermon until I had bulging 3-ring binder. Spurgeon's love of God and His Word was so contagious that I began to read the Bible in a new light. My trial did not miraculously disappear. I still shed many tears and battled fear and unbelief, but my view of God changed which changed everything.
I truly believe God used this long-dead Baptist preacher to keep me from throwing in the towel and abandoning the faith. My weak and rather unbiblical understanding would never have stood the test, but He was faithful to give me a bigger glimpse of Himself in His power, His love, and His sovereignty.
So I thank God for His faithful servants down through the ages, and I especially thank Him for Charles Spurgeon.
The Lord and no one else shall save me. I desire no other helper and would not trust in an arm of flesh even if I could. I will cry to Him evening, and morning, and noon, and I will cry to no one else, for He is all sufficient.
How He will save me I cannot guess; but He will do it, I know. He will do it in the best and surest way, and He will do it in the largest, truest, and fullest sense. Out of this trouble and all future troubles the great I AM will bring me as surely as He lives; and when death comes and all the mysteries of eternity follow thereon, still will this be true: "the Lord shall save me." This shall be my song all through this autumn day. Is it not as a ripe apple from the tree of life? I will feed upon it. How sweet it is to my taste!
Faith's Check Book, August 28