When I find an author who speaks to me, one who takes my mind—and usually my heart—to a different place, I tend to seek out other books by the same author. “Maybe they will have more to say to me,” I figure. “Maybe I will learn another way of seeing the world, or maybe a new way to use words in a different way.”
Over my long reading life, I have compiled a mental list of such writers and thinkers. One of these meaningful-to-me writers, Dr. Timothy Keller, died recently.
Tim Keller was a founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He was a theologian, an important Christian apologist, and a prolific best-selling author. He was married to Kathy Keller who co-authored some of his books. They had three children. Timothy Keller left this world on May 19 of this year dying after a three-year bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 72 years old. I believe he was, and is, a true man of God. I also know his books have helped me personally on my Christian journey.
I discovered his book “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” on July 14, 2014. I know this is the date because I keep receipts tucked in the pages of books I purchase, and the faded Barnes and Noble receipt is still there. This is the book that got me started on Keller’s writings.
By then I had already admitted, to myself and a few others, at least, I was a Christian. But my mind still roiled with questions about what the Bible actually said and how I was to understand it. This book cleared some of those muddy waters. I remember an upcoming extended family get-together and a teenage nephew who I knew had expressed some of those same questions. I brought a copy to the gathering and gave it to him. I hope it cleared up some of his questions, too.
Becky and I have a morning routine of reading something scriptural. Starting sometime in December, we are on the lookout for daily devotional books we can read together. We have read through at least three of Tim and Kathy Keller’s books. In 2016 we read “The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms.” In 2018 we worked through “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs.” And in December 2020 we finished “The Meaning of Marriage: A Couple’s Devotional.” I think we have been blessed to have had the opportunity to learn what he has to teach.
In my personal reading stack, I often have one of Tim’s or Tim and Kathy’s books going. I have read his books, “Prayer and Counterfeit Gods.” Right now I am almost finished with what was his last book, “Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I?”
He said, “Forgiveness is granted (often a good while) before it is felt—not felt before it is granted … It is likely you have always thought, ‘Well … I have to feel less angry before I start to not hold them liable.’ ‘If you wait to feel it before you grant it, you’ll never grant it; you’ll be in an anger prison.’”
Tim Keller was with his family when he passed. Some of the last words from this man of faith were, “There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.”
Thank you, Dr. Timothy Keller, for your good life and wonderful gifts.
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].