A Story Leading to a Story
About seven years ago, I met a young lady by the name of Kahlie Tomplait (who is now my wife of nearly four years)! It was through Kahlie that I had my spiritual interest kindled. This led to me reading the Bible, attending church, and attending a small campus ministry at Faulkner State Community College. Through all this, the Lord caused me to be born again to a living hope by the powerful working of the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:3; Jn. 3:4-8; Eph. 2:8).
And with that new birth I became a new creation. During this time I was an infant in Christ. I had very little Bible literacy, very little understanding of biblical theology, very little understanding of the person of Jesus, and very little understanding of almost everything else pertaining to the Christian religion. Thankfully, during this time Kahlie did not want to date me due to my pride and haughty spirit. This was significant because it led me to being single minded in my pursuit of the things of God.
Then about six months later, Kahlie moved back to Texas while I remained in Alabama. Three months after that, Kahlie and I began dating. Our relationship was long distance which showed how gracious God was because a long distance relationship is exactly what both of us needed in order to be conformed further into the image of Christ.
As we continued to date, we understood the importance of dating with the purpose of pursuing marriage. We, however, were very much ignorant of the ins and outs of dating, pursuing marriage, biblical marriage, biblical manhood, and biblical womanhood. With this being so, we sought out resources to help us get educated on these things so that we could have the mind of Christ.
A Quest for a Devotional
This led my friend and I to go to Lifeway Christian Bookstore to look for resources for Kahlie and I to grow spiritually. I was going to get her a resource on what Christian dating looked like. Now you must keep in mind that I did not know who or what to read. I just knew that Lifeway Christian Bookstore was the Barnes and Noble for Christians!
So there I was in Lifeway looking for resources. And if you know anything about the book selections in Lifeway, especially book selections on Christian dating, then you know that they have some really good stuff………and some really bad stuff. They have material that will prove to be very edifying, but they also have material that could prove to be spiritually detrimental. So I was in a sea of stuff that claims to be Christian literature on dating with very little discernment. What is a young man to do?
A Question to Get Guidance
Well, I did what somebody with little knowledge on dating, marriage, and everything else is suppose to do. I asked for guidance. However, as providence would have it, I did not ask for guidance from the staff workers at Lifeway (though they may have proved to be helpful). Rather, I asked an older lady that was just roaming around the store. I do not remember her name or appearance. I do remember bits of our conversation though.
I told her I was looking for a helpful resource to give to Kahlie regarding Christian dating and marriage. She specifically pointed me to a book titled Lady in Waiting. So I picked it up and was ready to make the purchase.
(I have no idea if Lady in Waiting is a good book at all. So I am not recommending it. This is just how the story goes).
I then asked her if there was anything that she would recommend that I buy for myself.
An Unexpected Answer
She said she would help me look. We were walking around Lifeway together. This seasoned saint was taking me past Joel Osteen and other prosperity preachers saying that they were no good. She took me by others and told me that they were weak theologically. I knew about ole Joel and the prosperity gospel. However, I did not know much about something being weak theologically because I was weak theologically!
Then she brought me to the spiritual classics section at Lifeway. Little did I know, this was a treasure chest of invaluable resources within the Lifeway book store. Here you find giants from church history that contributed a great deal to the advancement of the name of Christ. This section is filled with both men and women that faithfully lived and died for the glory of God.
And she was talking like she knew some of these men. I imagined I listened intently as though I knew who she was talking about, but in all honesty I did not know much. The older lady looked through the classics genuinely interested in picking out a book that would be beneficial for my soul. Then, at last, she came across a book she recommended to me. It was titled Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
An Introduction to a Hero
I received the book from her, thanked her for her help, and went to the cashier to check out. And little did I know that this devotional written by Spurgeon would serve as the introduction to one of my heroes of the faith. That women did more spiritual good to me in recommending that book than she will ever know.
Too Much Meat
Shortly after I purchased the book, I was going to attempt to read it. But I was roughly 20 years old, had the education of a guy that only cared about working out and baseball, and was about a year and a half into my walk with Christ. Therefore, as I picked it up to read it I quickly realized it was too much meat for me. Spurgeon’s use of the English language is unmatched. And for a guy with a small vocabulary I could not keep up! Also, Spurgeon’s use of imagery is breath taking. And for a guy with very little imagination it was hard for me to follow. Most of all, Spurgeon’s deep understanding of biblical and systematic theology was remarkable. And for a guy on the spiritual milk of God’s word it was simply too much. I put it aside.
This was not the end though. God is faithful in maturing his people. He desires that His people look more like Christ. He desires that His people have the mind of Christ. Therefore, he was faithfully molding me. I was like clay in the hands of a potter. Biblically speaking, I was a child under the care, love, admonition, discipline, and chastisement of my Heavenly Father. So surely but slowly I was growing. And with that, my mind was being transformed.
Before long, I was picking up Morning and Evening. I was delighting in how Christ exalting Spurgeon was. Spurgeon placed Christ before my eyes and taught me to treasure him. Through his writings, he showed me the immeasurable worth of Christ. This brought sheer joy to my soul!
Just to give you a taste, this is what Spurgeon wrote regarding Philippians 1:21 in his devotional:
The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ—nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea?
It is reading material like this that made Spurgeon my hero. And do not mistake what I am saying for idolatry. Christ alone is my Lord. He alone brings fullness of joy. He alone brings happiness to the soul. But you must understand that joy in Christ comes from beholding Christ by faith. And the clearer you behold Christ, the more joy you have. So what Spurgeon did was allow me to behold Christ a little more clearly. Now all the glory goes to God for it is God who empowered Spurgeon to do what he did. I know and understand that therefore I give thanks to God for Spurgeon.
An Unlikely Hero
Perhaps the most amazing thing is this though: God has used Spurgeon in my life. Spurgeon is my hero and I try to read his works often. But Spurgeon is many people’s hero. He is widely read and esteemed by men all around the globe. However, that lady in Lifeway is not known by many. She does not publish books, nor does she have world wide renown. I do not even remember her name. She is, in all regards, an unlikely hero.
But it was that seasoned saint that walked me through Lifeway, navigated different works of literature that would not have been beneficial for my soul, and pointed out teachers that would have been detrimental to my soul. Then she took me to the classics, pointed out Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and placed it in my hands saying that Spurgeon was the man that I needed to read.
With that said, Spurgeon is not my only hero. That older lady that took my question seriously and sought to lead me in the right way is my hero as well. And though she may not be a likely hero to many like Spurgeon is, she is most certainly a hero to me. And for that reason I praise God for her.