I was introduced to the writing of C.S. Lewis when I was a junior in college. His work has since profoundly influenced my faith in Christ, perhaps more so than anyone else.
Mere Christianity captured my mind and invited me to think reasonably about what I believe. The Chronicles of Narnia captured my heart and drew me to a deeper love for Christ. The Weight of Glory compelled me to consider the responsibility I have to others in encouraging their spiritual maturity. The Screwtape Letters unveiled the subtly and horror of spiritual warfare. A Grief Observed taught me to pray raw and honest prayers to a God who can handle my brokenness and even my anger and disappointment at a broken world.
Lewis is, undoubtedly, one of my heroes in the faith.
I never got to meet Lewis. He passed away decades before I was born.
But, I got to meet another hero of mine while I was in England last month.
You've probably never heard of him.
His name is Walter Hooper.
Hooper was Lewis’s secretary the last year of his life.
The publishing company that put out Lewis’ books was planning to pull them from print, as was, at the time, common practice when an author passed away. Hooper, a native of North Carolina, resolved to stay in England and dedicated himself to keeping the legacy of Lewis alive. He fought to keep Lewis’ writing in print and he succeeded. He also compiled and published thousands of letters written by Lewis.
It’s not a stretch to suggest that if we didn’t have Hooper, we wouldn’t have Lewis. That is, he would not be as widely known, read, or regarded as he is today.
It’s tempting to envy how God has gifted another. It’s tempting to become discontent in how God has gifted us. It’s tempting to succumb to the notion that those who receive recognition and acclamation for their influence, like Lewis, are the ones who are really making a difference in the world.
But, we need those able to stand on the stage and those able to build the stage.
For the Christian community to function as it was intended, we need everyone pursuing a unified purpose by way of their distinct giftedness. We are not to compete with one another, but complement one another.
Lewis used his gifts, and Hooper used his. God is still using Lewis to change hearts and minds. God used Hooper to make such change possible.
That’s why Walter Hooper is also, though for different reasons, my hero and why it was such an honor to meet him. I owe him a debt of gratitude for humbly using his gifts so that another could use theirs.