Remembering David Powlison

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This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

David Powlison 1949-2019

To be faithful is be steadfast, loyal, devoted, and true. Faithfulness is what binds soldiers in war. It is what unites the hearts of those committed to a cause, and what makes marriages sing. Faithfulness is the character of the most respected leaders. It lays a bedrock of trust in any relationship. Most of all, faithfulness is the characteristic of God that allows our hearts to rest. He is faithful and will be faithful. All is well.

My first introduction to David Powlison was in 2008 at a CCEF conference in Pennsylvania. As I listened to him talk from the stage, I had no idea at that time how much this man with a gentle voice would speak into my life in the coming years. I knew very little, at this time, of the faithfulness that defined him.

Like many, I got to know David through his virtual lectures in Dynamics of Biblical Change (in my days this was audio only). His transparency of how deeply the Scriptures touch his own life exemplified to every student how the gospel of the grace of Jesus changes us deeply. I remember thinking it a little odd to start a graduate level course with a hymn but, as he mined the depth of the words with us, this soon became a part of the class I loved most. With every hymn, he opened my own heart to the faithful love of God.

In the years ahead, I had the privilege of getting to know David a bit more personally through ministry connections. It was here that I had the impacting opportunity to see just how consistent this man is to what he taught in the lectures where I first encountered him. In every interaction I was met with tenderness, genuine care, and a faithfulness to the call to love others.

On more than one occasion our conversations together included such honest engagement that left me feeling like I had just spoken to my older brother. It is these moments that have impacted me most and taught me that faithfulness is embracing who we really are in Christ. We are a family in Jesus. David’s interactions with me exemplified that. I remember two particular conversations where he shared about how he was doing with the loss of his mother. Through tears his words pointed me back to our faithful God. We are all sufferers but God meets us in our struggle every time.

Once in a meeting with him and the leadership team at the CCEF campus, we were having an open conversations on a challenging topic. David asked me a pointed question on the topic we were discussing. I admit, I had a brief moment of panic. How could I give an answer fitting for David Powlison! I wanted nothing more than to hear him answer the question. I needed to learn from him! I certainly did not have the wisdom he could bring to the subject. Sensing my hesitation, he tenderly stated, “Eliza, we value candor here and we really want to hear from you.” The truth was, in that statement I knew he was being fully honest. My teacher, my mentor, my older wiser brother was humbly desiring to hear from me.

The mysteries of God is that we, the least, are invited to the table and are a valued guest. We matter. David made you feel that you mattered. But, we are more than just a guest, we a part of one family loved by a faithful Father. David made you feel like family.

He lived as a faithful steward of the gospel and made it wildly attractive. He taught me to trust the promises of God and to embrace my identity as a child of God. Through his own life of faithfulness, what David taught me rings in my memory every time I hear the familiar words that opened one of his classes through the lines of a hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness Oh God my Father!”

David Powlison, June 7, 2019 absent from the body, present with the Lord. He will be missed.