In 2016 Jerry Bridges, author of numerous bestselling books, died a few months before the release of his final book, The Blessing of Humility. Now and then over the next several weeks we’ll be posting tributes to Jerry and his books by people whose lives his writing touched.
During a time of prayer, God gently put it on my heart that the guys living next door to me might be interested in a Bible study, if someone would invite them. I knew from reading and hearing Isaiah 6 that the someone was me.
I was a new believer and a graduating senior at Howard University when I discovered that I wanted my life to make an impact—as soon as possible and as often as possible. I lived in the athletic dorm at our school, and the residence hall provided me with many opportunities to engage with other guys during the off season.
So that’s what happened. Shaq, Brian, Ron, and Jemel (all rookies on the football team) got an invitation to join a weekly Bible study. Two of the guys said yes. Over time they even invited a girlfriend or two.
A New Chapter
Fast forward to after my graduation, and I was the one receiving an invitation. It was from The Navigators, through Eugene Burrell, to become an intern. During my training, Eugene introduced me to Jerry Bridges’s book The Pursuit of Holiness. I began to devour the pages, reading them and going through the study guide. For me it was the blessing of having another coach in my ear, telling me and cheering me on to pursue the things of God—with holiness being one of his communicable attributes.
I was tasked with a number of jobs, one of them being to continue leading the Bible study in my old dorm. I wanted to pick a topic that mattered and gave a foundation for life. The four freshmen were now sophomores. Were they even thinking about holiness? Would others in the residence hall love the Bible study too? Could I somehow use this book to invite athletes to pursue or run after something that was the opposite of most things on our campus?
All I could do was try, and try I did. Full confession: This is not one of those reflection stories where I am a hero. Many of those weeks of Bible study had a low attendance. But what it did for me was worth the effort. It put a bias in me—a bias to agree with God, a bias to call sin what it is, and (last but not least) a bias toward Jerry Bridges. I knew that if I could meet him someday I would tell him about how his book added fuel to the fire of my desire to be used by God. The way to ensure that could happen was to pursue holiness.
Ten years later, I met Jerry. Two years after I met him, he passed away. Before he died, I attended several of his workshops and teachings. Thankfully, I was able to introduce him to students God had placed in the ministry at Bowie State University. Many of them couldn’t know how the truths of this man’s writings had blessed my life, but I was elated that they got a chance to meet him and hear how important it was to pursue holiness and God.