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Reading the Experiences of Other Christians

If in your morning devotions you open God’s word to the book of Judges and find that the strings of your inner instrument are not in tune, it is not blasphemy to excuse yourself for a few moments from the King’s library and turn to a paragraph from one of his unflinchingly faithful, broken-hearted, happy servants. Should we find it surprising that the King should appoint some of his closest friends to be especially good at tuning the strings of our soul so that we may play His music when he puts the bow of his Word on our soul?
– Excerpt from John Piper’s Desiring God blog

I have to admit the above paragraph was a bit high-faluting for me. I had to read it twice just to figure out what it meant. But when I figured it out, it comforted me. What John Piper is saying is that sometimes we need to read something other than the Bible for a few minutes. Blasphemy? No. Just realistic. Sometimes it helps us in our human fraility to read the words of other followers of Christ–to hear what they are going through–how they weathered storms similar to ours. John Piper says Samuel Rutherford’s letters from prison do that for him. I’m not sure 400-year-old letters would do that for me. But Back to the Bible’s daily email with Elisabeth Eliot excerpts works. So does reading Dallas Willard in small doses.

Writing classes tell me to end now with a call to action. I don’t really have a clarion call here–just a thought which might work for you. Find a writer or two whose Christian life you can admire. Subscribe to their blog and read a thought a day or buy one of their books and leave it on the coffee table, dipping into it now and then. A lot of pastors I know seem to find biographies of missionaries and preachers helpful. I have a much dog-earred book of C.S. Lewis quotes. Also a great book called They Found the Secret filled with the stories of Christians who experienced a deeper, more satisfying spiritual life than most of us seem to. John Piper may call this type of reading “tuning your heart strings.” I just call it a reality check: lots of great thinkers and writers have lived life day in and day out–mowed the lawn, washed the dishes, buried loved ones–and found God true and all-sufficient. I can too.