“That sounds like it brings a lot of pain,” he said. I sat at a table with two female colleagues at the Olive Garden and David Powlison was our guest. I was in my 20’s, starting to teach, and was working on my doctorate. I was also severely disappointed by the lack of acceptance of the male faculty. He listened.
What he could have said was, “You sound bitter and unloving,” and he would have been right. But instead, with an empathetic ear and a few gentle questions, he exposed my selfish expectations and helped me turn my thinking, right there over the endless bowl of salad.
David didn’t know me well, but he recognized the fruit of an angry human heart, and his gentle address disarmed me and pointed me back to the One who knew my pain. I am thankful for the interactions with this sweet man–in class, in conferences, and in his writings.
We lost his presence today. Now he is with Jesus, the One he loved so well. I thank my God upon every remembrance of His servant, David Powlison.
Justin Taylor wrote a beautiful reflection on David Powlison’s life, and it is well worth your time. And you can also read Dr. Powlison’s last address to the graduates of the Westminster Theological Seminary here.