For years I have had such high regard for John Stott. I discovered his writing many, many years ago when I most needed him. I was a “baby” Christian when I picked my used copy of Basic Christianity off my book shelf. When I originally bought the book I was just a curious learner, collecting books I thought looked interesting. I was not a born-again Christian. Basic just sat on the shelf, waiting for me to open it, read it and be inspired by it. When I finally did read it, it had answers for many of my questions. I knew I had “found” Jesus but I was unsure about what a life in Christ entailed. When I began to read Stott’s book, I did not know I was reading the words of a world renowned preacher. I did know that for me he was a world-class teacher of Christianity. He gave me answers.
When I began this blog on December 30, 2014 I knew I wanted to discuss “Christian living literature.” I began with simple books and I wrote every day on St. John Studies. I soon began to see that was unsatisfying, short simple discussions, undeveloped. I gravitated to more complex books and more lengthy discussions. I quit trying to contribute to my blog every day. I found it better to study sections of more complex books and write after several days of thought and careful preparation. I had bloggers tell me that over a thousand words is hard, that audiences did not want to read that much, but a thousand plus words worked for me. I could write that much fairly easily at least on a weekly basis. I began working with more complex authors like Dallas Willard, W. Bingham Hunter, J.I. Packer and then John Stott. With Stott, not only was he complex, but he meant so much to me. I started his magnum opus on October 25, 2020 and when I began to work with it, I could see that I was in above me head theologically. After all, on the dust jacket is says: “The work of a lifetime, from one ot the world’s most influential thinkers, about the heart of the Christian faith. I thought it would be good to mix in early Stott with magnum opus Stott so I began a discussion of Basic Christianity on December 7, 2020.
It has been a long journey to get to the end, but I am there.
I finished my comments on Basic on October 6, 2022. I continued on with Chapter 13 of The Cross on October 15, completing this last chapter on November 27th.
A lot has happened in my life these past two months to make me a very irregular writer. First of all, my mother [who is 92] has become a serious fall risk, reaching the stage of life where she is feeble and unable to live independently. This process really began in February 2022 when she began a series of very upsetting illnesses requiring that I participate in living in her home at least a day or two or three every week. That and other things were what my family did to keep her in her home but it became clear that was not working. She was not happy, very anxious and fearful even in her own home. Professional sitters were not an option due to lack of availability and cost. She fell in her kitchen, breaking some ribs and had to spend a week in the hospital. After recovering from that, she fell again asking to be taken to the hospital where she received a professional evaluation regarding her ability to be mobile.
Mom has always railed against nursing homes, despite paying thousands of dollars for a long-term care policy, so we were praying the evaluation would not be nursing facility. The recommendation was “assisted living” which meant a lot of work moving her from her home, downsizing and placing her in an assisted living facility near my home. It sounded good because she would be safe and she had a chance to live a good life with people her own age. My family moved her on November 8, 2022. We moved her body, but we could not move her heart. She longed to go home, even though we were told to allow her to live alone would be neglect on our part with her in her feeble condition.
In her new home, she has fought the fight to return to her home, much to her detriment. I have never seen anyone fight so hard not to change. On top of this, she is still having “upsetting illnesses” that make transitioning even harder. The illness got so bad I had to hospitalize her on November 27th and tend to her needs in the hospital for five days. When the hospital released her, I took her back to her assisted living apartment only to find my frequent visits to the hospital exposed me to Covid -19. Others would have to step in and take care of Mom for at least the 10 day quarantine period.
I write all this to explain my absence from St. John Studies recently. Life has not been the same since February but lately it has been very upset.
My apologies. I give you reasons for my absence, not excuses.
When I began this project on October 25, 2022, I had no idea that it would take so long. At times, my editor, my wife has begged me to “get through with this book!”. I have put a few posters up at church and it is featured on the led marquee out front. I am sure that anyone who notices suspects I have been blogging on The Cross of Christ for years.
But I am on the chapter entitled “Conclusion: The Pervasive Influence of the Cross” and I am going to finish commenting on the book.
Like my Mother’s stubbornness to have what she should not have, I have a deep-seated need to persevere in my completion of my discussion. When everything is going our way it is easy to demonstrate discipline. When we encounter those times when we struggle against formidable odds to get our work done is when perseverance becomes so important. I know I will complete my blog on Stott and even though it will be hard, I will transition to another book. I have faith in God’s timing, I have faith in His omnipotence and I have faith in His love.
Life does not unfold in “lock-step” manner. Thursday was my normal publishing day and when it rolls around and you are leading some “normal” life, you rip off 1,000 words. You find yourself delivering medicine to a loved one, sitting in a hospital trying to cheer someone up or making an effort to get out of bed when your body is wracked by Covid fatigue and those 1,000 words get pushed to the “back burner” for more pressing matters.
I will post my closing thoughts on Stott’s conclusion soon and I promise you they will be reflective of his work and reflective of my interpretation of his work.
I know I will finish for, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” [Phillipians, 4:13].