Hi, my name is Alasdair Groves. I’m the executive director of CCEF, which is the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. And I’m standing here on the Powlison Path, a little path through the woods on the corner of our property here at CCEF that we’ve dedicated to David Powlison. He was our former executive director. He was a faculty member here for many years, and he was a friend and a mentor, a colleague, a brother in Christ who walked with us for many years and offered his insights and his wisdom, his writing, his teaching, and his presence in our midst in a way that was such a blessing to us over so many years.
We dedicated this path to David at a small ceremony for a few friends and family. Got to share memories of David, got to share reflections on David’s legacy. And it was a really sweet time to just remember David’s life, to reflect on who he was and the ways that he cared for us, the ways that he pointed us to his Lord.
And it’s no accident that this particular piece of God’s earth, that this particular path in the woods, would be the thing that we would dedicate to David. Whether it’s the abundant greenery coming up in the summer, whether it’s the birds chirping in the background as you hear, whether it is the stillness of a winter landscape, whether it’s a goldfinch coming across, darting across an open plane—he could see in what God had made some expression of God’s heart that would always capture his attention. And there was always a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye as he would see the beauty of nature and connect it back to the Lord who had made it.
He’d always had a vision and a desire for there to be a space on CCEF’s property where people could go and walk and just be so viscerally, vividly reminded of who God is and what he’s like and what his heart is. And we even have some little spaces where a counseling session can happen in the midst of God’s beautiful, protective, vibrant greenery and woods, a natural place of showing who he is and what he’s like.
I remember one particular experience I had with David where we were walking by a beautiful gorge near my home, walking through the trees and along the rocks and the grass down by the side of the gorge. And I was sharing just some of the significant struggles that I was having in my own life, some serious wrestlings. And I remember David in just this kind and gentle way, that was the kind of kind and gentle way you expected with David—you knew you could open your heart to him—and I remember him saying, “Alasdair, it’s so often, watching church history, watching my counseling, watching my life experience,” he said, “Alasdair, so often it’s actually in our places of our greatest weakness, where our failings and our sins are most obvious and repeated and frustrating, that God grows us the most and bears the best fruit. So often people are most a blessing to the people around them, most able to worship at the feet of God, most able to be a picture of flourishing when they’ve been brought through hard things, when they’ve seen their failures, when God has worked particularly in them. It’s particularly in those areas that we are able to most testify to how he shapes and changes and works and brings mercy and grace to help in time of need.”
That has stuck with me all these years. And that’s the experience so many had of David. Whether it was counseling with him, whether it was working with him, to be in his family, to read his writing, to listen to his talks, you got from him an insight, a gentleness, a wry smile, and a twinkle in his eyes. He talked about the ways that God knows we are weak, knows that we are feeble and fragile, and meets us with love and kindness in ways that are perfectly suited to the need of the individual and of the situation.
So thank you so much for taking a moment of your time to celebrate and to remember David Powlison’s legacy with us.