Oh for a spiritual father!
Kelly Kapic wrote in his Foreword to "Overcoming Sin and Temptation" by John Owen;
"During recent conversations we had been praying that God would provide a mentor for me while I was working on my P.hd - someone who would ask the hard questions, challenge my thinking and living and consistently point me to the love of the Father.
As we sat talking that morning in what had become normal language around our home, I began another sentence with, "Do you know what Owen said yesterday ... ?". Stopping me, Tabitha interjected "You are being mentored. Listen to how you refer to John Owen as if he were alive. He is your mentor" ... She was right ... although Owen had been dead for centuries, I found myself in daily dialogue with this prominent Puritan".
Note: "Listen how you refer to John Owen as if he were alive".
I found myself nodding in agreement as I read the foreword to Kapic and Taylor's modification of this great work of John Owen's. This isn't some eccentric unique odd activity known only to Phd students. I realised as I read this that I too have been referring to some of my great heroes as if they were still alive and most definately dialogue with them. I too have frequently bemoaned the lack of spiritual fathers around my life - but rather the truth is that I am blessed beyond imagining! I do have mentors in my library!
Pete's latest blog touches on this exact issue and it is something we have discussed frequently. We use a J K Rowling-ism and call our libraries, "Portrait Galleries". Anyone who has read her books will understand! But Pete wrote;
"How do we treat the older believers in our churches? ... But they are a library of rich volumes of experience with God. Many of them have a lifetime of reading His word, hearing His voice and seeking His face in prayer. They have a wealth of testimonies of how the Lord has guided, protected, provided, answered, comforted and encouraged".
His counsel and advice is - don't miss the moment! Not all potential mentors write. I fear greatly that great men of the faith who don't entrust the revelations and insights into the Word of God into print do a great disservice to future generations. I pride myself on the fact that it was partly my bullying that pushed my friend Pete into writing. He is an incredibly gifted preacher but suffered from the common evangelical paralysing symptoms of humility. "Who am I". Well we know that we are nobodies but God has given gifts and they should not be wasted!
And the gift of writing is an awesome one. For in writing the truths, revelations, insights and wonders that God has shown to His servants throughout church history are captured - like a Polaroid camera - for all time should that volume be preserved. So when you next look at your bookshelves or when you next go into your library don't see it as just a collection of old, dusty, dead books. Every time you open a volume imagine that the author is speaking to you and engaging you in dialogue - eager and desperate to train you and show you what they have learnt about the Almighty God that we love and serve and are seeking to know and be known!