Some of you will know that Pam and I have often been inspired by reading Francis and Edith Schaeffer’s works. I’ve been thinking of them again today. I believe we have read most if not all of their published works and also watched “How Shall We Then Live” numerous times over the years, plus heard various interviews and teachings online. We have been guided in some key ways by “the Schaeffer apologetic,” like so many others, mainly because his approach was actively tested, not just written, as they answered the questions of skeptics and seekers at his chalet in Huemoz, Switzerland. I have met some of those converts.
About half way through his ministry there, in the early seventies, I made a trip to Switzerland for a conference not far from Huemoz when several of us were able to visit with the Schaeffers.
As Mr. Schaeffer idled up to me at the bus stop right in front of his Chalet, he asked me about what was happening in terms of neo-orthodoxy at the seminary I attended. I had no idea what that meant, for I had not read much at that point from him or others about the encroachment of this infecting view. If I had been more humble and less intimidated, I would have said, “I really don’t understand what that is; would you mind explaining?” Since explaining the faith was his forte, I know he would have patiently helped me understand. As it was, I mumbled something inane and slipped out of the way. To this day, I cannot believe I did that!
But that was not all. Later, one afternoon at the same conference in Chateau d’Oex, our dear friend Ron Owens arranged a visit with the Schaeffers for those who were involved in some way in speaking at the conference. I was invited. During those days I was very mystical about finding out God’s will. I prayed and pondered and finally felt that God was telling me to stay behind and to teach the people at the conference rather than call the afternoon off for them. This meant that I would miss the Schaeffer afternoon. Foolishly, I did that, a second very stupid thing in my view, as I later realized what an opportunity God had arranged for me. I’ve had a regret about both of those misses over all these years.
What was most stirring to me and to Pam was the lifestyle of the Schaeffers. They were imperfect, as Edith consistently reminded her readers, but they had chosen to live by faith as nearly as they could in the Lord who is living and hears their prayers. Edith’s two books on the founding of L’Abri (“the shelter”) undertake to explain this (L’Abri, and Tapestry — you should read these for inspiration yourself). Along with George Muller in my college days, the Schaeffers provided tangible proof that God answers prayer and does what he promised. I attribute, humanly speaking, much to both of those sources, as any of you have been around me or Pam will readily know.
As we heard Edith Schaeffer talk with a few of us for perhaps a couple of hours in the tea room overlooking their chalet, we felt deeply that God was teaching us something that would last a lifetime and would continue to drive us to the exciting ministry ahead.
A few days later, we went with Edith in our bus across the Rhine where we stopped to pray, then on to hear Francis Schaeffer speak in the old reformation chapel in the town from which they had been expelled earlier because of the local leaders’ insistent. The candlelight Christmas Eve service was a regular event each year for returning and remembering and for continuing in some way the ministry they had there before. He spoke on “What a Difference Looking Makes,” a sermon that was included in No Little People, No Little Places, a title that says it all.
What I see in this
What comes into my mind as I think about the Schaeffers? This — we desperately need to be inspired by living illustrations of faith. I learned years ago that people are not impressed about what you do for God, but what he does in and through you. My wall is lined with biographies and autobiographies of people who were channels for God’s power and love, and who made a difference in their generation. I have to read them; I need them. And I need the stories of those Bible characters who lived a life of faith and sacrifice to be read and read again. When we live without models of faith, our vision shrinks, and our eagerness atrophies.
On the Road
Steve and I are on the road and in the air for the next two months speaking between us 50-60 times in various venues across the US. It’s a busy time and we need your prayers. I find myself asking my friends and interested Christians to pray for us. Those of you who know us, cannot help but know how sincere our request is to be prayed for. We have nothing to offer but what he gives. And only what he gives will cause change. Thanks for helping out with your prayers during this Fall.