Something I Don’t Want to Lose

This afternoon, I am going to hear Fred Craddock speak at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary.  Fred Craddock is not only one of my favorite preachers but has been someone from whom I have learned a great deal.  Several years ago, while he was still teaching at Emory University, I took a one week preaching seminar with him and another fine preacher, Thomas Long.  That week would have a positive impact on my preaching for many years.


Fred Craddock, in particular, has been helpful to many people in learning how to communicate to people who have heard it all before.  Perhaps these people grew up in church and are very familiar with much of the Bible.  (Yes, I realize that it is possible to grow up in church and be very unfamiliar with much of the Bible.) 


As a Christ-follower, sometimes things get a little too familiar.  A person can "settle in" with the Bible and the things of God and just get used to it all.  I can get used to all of this and lose something.


  • The Bible becomes familiar.
  • Church culture becomes familiar.
  • Sacred moments like baptism and the Lord’s supper become familiar.
  • Words — important words — become familiar.
  • The Christian story becomes familiar.

Anything wrong with familiarity?  No.  But, I might want to wave a yellow caution flag at this point.  (Or, maybe someone else should wave it while I try to pay attention to it as well.)  What I can easily do is reduce following Jesus to the familiar.  In very subtle ways, I begin to lose any sense of a childlike faith. 

This is what I don’t want to lose.

I don’t want to lose the dynamic of following Jesus every day in the ordinary moments of my life.  I want to still be drawn to Jesus much as a husband is still drawn to his bride after thirty years of marriage.  I want to keep Jesus before me as one who will lead me on an adventure through life.  I want to hold on to a simple, trusting faith even as I continue to gain more knowledge and awareness of him.


Many years ago, C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:


This is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it.  It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.  All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.  And so on, all day.  Standing back from all your natural fussings and fretting; coming in out of the wind.


We can only do it for moments at first.  But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us.  It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain, which soaks right through. 


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8 thoughts on “Something I Don’t Want to Lose

  1. Jim – enjoy Craddock.  Through the years I have also had those occasions to sit at his feet and be enthralled by his gift.  If I had to pick one preacher to listen to he would be the one. 

  2. Jim,
    It seems one of my greatest challenges is to see it all as new every day, recreated, held together by the breath of Jesus.  Sometimes I look at the trees and see the ordinary, other time I see the real magic, the real wonder of it all.  Maybe as time goes on God will give me the grace to be more consistently and profoundly aware of His everywhereness and the way in which all creation is pregnant with His fulness, bursting with life, life, and more life. 
    Thanks, Ben

  3. I agree wholeheartedly that when our faith becomes overly familiar we run the risk of losing its impact on our lives. We have this perception that familiarity brings normalcy; that what is *normal* is good. Actually, I remember an old Fred Hartley book which went a step further: that what is ‘average’ is often seen as ‘normal’ is seen as ‘good.’

    Who wants *normal*???? As people of faith, should our desire not be for the extraordinary things?

    SIDELINE: Often, when I am asked my opinion regarding ‘The Message’ I give a response similar to this discussion: While it is not a good ‘Study Bible’ it does have the benefit of hitting people who have become *too familiar* with Scripture. . .

  4. John,Just got back from hearing Craddock.  He was quite good.  (C.D.’s are probably available from Truett Seminary).  He made a presentation this afternoon to Truett students, faculty, and others on preaching.  Did a little Q & A as well. 

  5. Ben,Do I ever relate to your comment and your challenge!  This morning I stepped outside, very early to get the newspaper.  Just as I left the front porch, I heard a chorus of birds and saw a rabbit hopping across our front yard.  I thought of God who created such a world.  It was a good moment. Then, it occurred to me, Ben, how often I miss all of this.  It is there but is so familiar and everyday, that I miss the beauty of that moment.  

  6. Mic–Thanks for what you said.  I agree with what you said about the Message.  Very often, I will read a passage and I begin to really hear that familiar text again.