Sunday, March 1, 2020

Downsizing books - some adventures on the way 2)

Many other questions in A Spiritual Check-Up challenged me when I read them again. Like, in the section about fellow-workers for Christ:  Do I love the people I am called to work with?  Have I a secret longing always to be first?  Am I willing to take my wages in Christian service from God alone?   And, serving others:  How much of my life is really given to others? not just my family, not just my friends, OTHERS?

All this brought to mind the winsome biography Doctor Sangster, written by his son Paul.  I think it is the most moving preacher's biography I have ever read, partly because of the way this disciplined, prayerful man really did honestly check-up himself!  At times he suffered from depression (as other Christian leaders have) and when he died private papers revealed so much of his heart.  One lengthy confession is startling reading (and I have used it in past lectures to ministers).  Let me quote the first part:
I am a minister of God yet my private life is a failure in these ways: a) I am irritable and easily put out b) I am impatient with my wife and children. c) I am deceitful in that I often express private annoyance when a caller is announced and simulate pleasure when I actually meet them. e) Even in my preaching I fear I am more often wondering what the people think about me, than what they think about my Lord and His word. f) I have long felt, in a vague way, that something was hindering the effectiveness of my ministry and I must conclude that the 'something' is my failure in living the truly Christian life.
In all he has twenty two sections of soul-searching which includes times of depression and ends with this prayer:
May God help me to the end and keep me, and give me the full assurance of His favour and peace. And may I remember my heaviness and depression in days  when all is well, that I may not fail to rejoice in the sunshine and that I may preach to needy hearts and pray for the exact word matched to their need. 
And I must tell you about one more occurrence with A Spiritual Check-Up!

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