Remembering Jerry Bridges
Jerry Bridges died on Saturday and I wanted to share my own thoughts about the significant impact he made in my personal gospel journey.
We have had many different retreat speakers at Wellspring since our beginning. While every one of them has been blessed us, one made such an inedible mark on all who had the opportunity to hear him, Jerry Bridges. This picture is from our first retreat with him. It was taken at a men’s breakout session with him. I still remember so clearly his main point. It came from Genesis 5:21-25, a very unassuming text on Enoch: “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God2 after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
He shared with all of us this simple idea: When he examined his life, he considered that he would never be able to be as kingly as David, or have the faith of Abraham, or the humble leadership of Moses, but he could be like Enoch. He too could simply walk with God. And that is who Jerry Bridges was, an unassuming man who simply walked with God. And today, I know He has been welcomed home as a good and faithful servant.
But unassuming as he was as a speaker, there are few who so skillfully and powerfully articulated the gospel as he did. He shared with me his own journey of faith, a life that began with a works-based view of faith. But slowly, as he studied the Scriptures, as he so regularly did, he saw the joy and freedom of the gospel.
In my conversations with him, he always had time for someone like me. I wasn’t pastoring a large church. I wasn’t someone who was significant in the world’s eyes. And yet, he continued to invest in me and Wellspring. After his first visit with us, he returned again. And every time he visited, he came with both gravity and gladness.
I recently asked Jerry to speak for us at a marriage retreat. I thought, “Who do I know who would faithfully teach married couples about the most important facet of marriage, the gospel?” The first person who came to mind was Jerry Bridges. But the email that I had was old and so I needed to go through the Navigators website to simply send an email to a website contact us form. I figured I’d hear back weeks later, if ever. I received an email from him two hours after my initial email, he wrote:
Thanks for your email and the invitation to speak at your retreat. I am sorry that I can no longer do this. I am now 86 and my health has begun to decline rapidly.
Warmly in Christ,
The quick response was another reminder that even in his obvious poor health, he still had time and desire to respond to me. I never realized that only a month later, he’d be with the Lord. While I am saddened for Jane and the loss of someone who helped me to see the beauty of Jesus, I know that Jerry is truly enjoying His Savior’s presence. And I know that every time I go back to his books such as Trusting God and Transforming Grace, I can count on his wisdom to help us walk with God.
Thank you Jerry Bridges for your love for Jesus and His Church!