On a day off, I might curl up on the couch, fire up Tetris 99 on the Nintendo Switch, mute the television, and listen to a Keller sermon on my phone while I played.
On a hard day, a worn out day, I might listen to a Keller sermon on the drive home.
On a down day, in search of grace, I might browse through the Gospel in Life podcast and find a relevant Keller sermon and listen.
Yes, I have also read just about every book he has written. I have read many of his articles. I have heard Keller in person on several occasions. I have listened to interviews and watched panel discussions. I have read and reviewed his intellectual biography. Yes, I am so indebted to him as a thinker and practitioner. So many planks in my house of theology and ministry have “Keller” stamped on them. Yes, I have literally been called a Kellerite by pastor friends. But…
As I mourn his passing and try to understand the wave of grief that swept so high over my head it surprised me, I realize I am sad because I will miss the friend he had become.
You see, to me, Tim Keller was not just a famous pastor or New York Times bestselling author. He had become a Gospel friend. The kind of friend who could talk to me about Jesus on the ride home after a bad day. The kind of friend who could chat with me about the Gospel while I unwound and played Tetris. The kind of friend who I could count on to give me grace when I waded through darkness.
Of course, all of this ministry was through media, but nevertheless, in the Gospel, Keller was a friend to me.
So, though I never met him, I will miss him, the person, the gospel friend, the unique voice that was Tim Keller.
To Tim, thank you! Thank you for pointing me to the Gospel, to ever deeper depths of its grace, and to the prodigal God who loves us more than we dared to hope.
Thank you, Lord, for Tim! Bless and care for his family. Amen.