By Andi Hines
The dedication in Jen Wilkin’s book In His Image warmed my heart. It’s to R.C. Sproul, a philosopher and theologian who died in 2017 at the age of 78. Her dedication reads: “In memory of R.C. Sproul, who taught profound truth in plain speech, and who dignified everyday disciples as capable theologians.”
Sproul’s teachings and writings weren’t elaborate, but his discernment was. Thinking about Sproul sent me looking for my old books. I found the writings of another man from a slightly older era, an American pastor known to us as A.W. Tozer, who was born in 1897 and died in 1963.
In his book The Attributes of God, Tozer recounted a story that creates for me a vivid picture of God’s grace and Christ’s faithfulness. The story is set in Europe at the end of World War I when the ravages of so much death were beginning to break down the social structure. Tozer recounted how the number of orphans across Europe was so staggering that there were strict policies set in place to manage orphanage resources. The policies were meant to ensure that the meager rations the orphanages had would be given to only the neediest children first.
Tozer told of an older father who, without work, food, or resources, was desperate to provide for his little girl. Upon entering an orphanage with her, this sickly, half-starved man was asked by the orphanage director if he was the girl’s father. “Yes,” the father replied, pleading for the orphanage to have pity on his daughter and take her in. But the orphanage director told the father that he couldn’t. The rule was they could not accept a child if one of the parents was still living. The father’s response to the director reflected his desire to care for his daughter:
“You mean that if I were dead, you’d take care of my little girl and feed her and she could live and have clothing and a home?” When the response was “yes,” the father reached down and pulled her little, skinny body into his arms. He hugged her hard and kissed her. He put her hand in the hand of the man at the desk, and said, “I’ll arrange that.” Tozer wrote that the tragedy of the man’s decision never left him.
We are reminded in this story that God’s love and grace to us His children is perfect and beyond comprehension. I see in this story a reflection of God’s desire to care for us, to secure a future for us, to sacrifice for our needs. I also see Christ’s complete faithfulness as He offered His own life to secure our salvation, our future.
In our limitedness, we have no way to measure God’s grace and Christ’s faithfulness. These are divine attributes. Immeasurable. Constant. We are graciously given the opportunity to share in these two attributes, though never in completeness as they exist in our God, and as we are reminded in Psalm 86:15, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
Father, I thank You for Your immeasurable grace and faithfulness given to me, Your child. You have granted me the ability to offer grace and faithfulness. In my frailty, however, I often squander that gift. I ask You to open my heart and help me lay it bare before You, to do as You will. So let it be.