Thursday, October 07, 2004

Reading Edith Schaeffer

I've been reading Edith Schaeffer's massive autobiography, "The Tapestry."

Neither of the Schaeffers ever seemed to have had the benefit of a ruthless editor. Her husband, Francis Schaeffer, produced works that are often needlessly repetetive and long-winded. Her books have a chatty style, but tend toward needless digressions and tangents.

Nonetheless, the story of how she and Dr. Schaeffer came to know one another, to marry, and ultimately to begin a mission in war ravaged Europe that would become L'abri is enjoyable and inspiring.

Mrs. Schaeffer stresses the mystery of the tension between providence and the reality of human choice. She insists human choices can alter history.

One scene in the book makes this point personal for me.

Just before Francis Schaeffer left the house on his way to college, his father stopped him at the door.

"I don't want you to do this. I don't want a son who is a minister," he said.

Francis asked his father for a few minutes to think it over. He went down to the cellar and cried. He prayed God would show him what to do.

He went back to the door, through it, to college and into the history of Christianity.

Had he not made the choice he did that day, there would have been no L'abri. Had there been no L'abri, my old theology professor David Wells might not be teaching at Gordon-Conwell. Had he not been teaching there, I may never have made my way there to sit in his classroom. Had I never gone to Gordon-Conwell, I would never have met my wife. Had I never met my wife, my life would be completely other (and worse) than it is today.

Though he couldn't have known it then, when Francis Schaeffer stepped out that door he carried many of us, though unborn and even unimagined, with him.

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