The first chapter of this book drew us in, helped us imagine the atmosphere of L'Abri, and convinced us we needed to read more of Edith and Fran's books.
We read of the trip up the Swiss mountainside in the mail bus, climbing up to a place named for Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the Shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Upon arriving, William is given a bag of fresh peas and asked to help shell them for lunch tomorrow. A group of people is busily shelling peas, listening to one of Fran's lectures on tape. Walking outside before supper, William found Fran. Fran's principle legacy is no doubt people, William tells us, for he experienced this himself. "I knew right who he was, even though I had never seen a picture of him. His face was radiant. Slightly wrinkled, his visage communicated the weight of many years, years of suffering and of pondering deeply, and yet also a fundamental joy. He was fifty two at the time. He came right up to me, obviously knowing who I was, and extended his hand for a warm greeting. I'll never forget his broad smile, so full of kindness. I felt right at home in this strange and wonderful place."
God was working in this Shelter. After supper came a time of discussion and prayer. "At L'Abri, prayer was not a ritual. It was practiced as though, were there no God, this would have been the most absurd performance possible."
God was moving in Mr. Edgar's life. "I would later understand that the Holy Spirit was prompting me, moving me toward the Savior. But for now, it was simply something from another world."
At worship the next morning, they began to sing Bach chorales in four part harmony. "How good could it get? As a music student, I had spent two years in Harvard analyzing Bach...and here we were not studying them, but singing them and believing them."
Fran had invited him to meet with him and talk after worship, and he went up to a little chamber and sat with him. Fran greeted him "with that same profound face, its warm grin and the clear sense that he cared about me as well as the issues we needed to discuss." William asked questions, and "he came back with an extensive, thoughtful reply. We went back and forth. After a couple of hours, I just knew this was all true. If it is possible to feel the Holy Spirit come into one's heart, I could and I did... Less than twenty four hours after my arrival at L'Abri my life was completely turned upside down. Or was it right side up?"
Through this book we learn that L'Abri was a place of serious study and practical care for people. Apologetics with a touch, Ravi Zacharias calls it. And this makes sense, because Fran and Edith wanted to provide both theological precision and loving community.
Listen to William Edgar describe this... "Francis Schaeffer was a brilliant man...his method of learning was...more an informal collecting of insights from Scripture, people, articles, clippings, and his own hunches." He could defend Scripture before Buddhists or liberals, and at the same time in the Scaheffer home you were made to feel like a friend... "There were usually tea and cookies, a warm fire and then intense discussions about the Christian world-and-life view with any guest who showed up." In contrast, much evangelism today is "not only sub Christian, but sub human- legalistic and impersonal."
This is a reminder we all need, every day. Someone, somewhere, is leaving what they think is cold orthodoxy. It is not orthodoxy that is at fault- not at all! It is a lack of heart. Through the reuniting of the two "Fran and Edith rescued numerous evangelicals who were ready to jettison their faith because it was not lived out with beauty and reality." Fran and Edith were "a statement of authenticity in a compromised church."
This is what we are to take away from the work of L'Abri, and from the work and life of Fran. "Christ is Lord of all of Life, and because of that, there is no realm of life not subject to our scrutiny and to our calling as Christians in the world. For many, this calling and this practice represent what is so wonderful, so exciting, about the Schaeffer legacy."
This book captures that spirit: Faith lived out with Beauty and Reality.
I was blessed to receive this book for my family library from Crossway Publishing.