Author: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of 49 books and thousands of articles. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See our article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)
Genre: On Boreham’s spiritual essays: F. W. Boreham is difficult to place into a genre. A reviewer wrote in Preacher’s Magazine, “There is only one Boreham.” His writing is a mix of essay writing and what I call “literary preaching”—preaching that is intensely informed by both Christian and classic literature. In the main body of his work (“classic Boreham”), some chapters were originally sermons; others were culled from his 3000 biographical essays. In any case, most of his 49 books are a goldmine of suitable (if light) devotional reading. (See my list of his published works.)
“The Fish-Pens” is my favorite in the book. He describes fish kept muscular for the market by a predator fish in the fish-pens—”an animated compliment”—so that they are forced to struggle and swim. Though this is certainly inspirational for believers in adversity, it also points toward the possibility of a theodicy:
I am the prey of antagonisms of many kinds. . . . Life is full of irritations. . . . I am not my own master. Like Paul, I find a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. . . . Paul found it extremely exasperating, and so do I.
In the same essay, he quotes from Martin Luther:
It was my temptations and my corruptions that best prepared me for my pulpit. The devil has been my best professor at exegetical and experimental divinity. Before that great schoolmaster took me in hand, I was a suckling child and not a grown man. It was my combats with sin and with Satan that made me a true minister of the New Testament.
“Whistling Jigs to Milestones” recounts an outback pastor’s feeling that his work and preaching had no results. In the end, the feeling shows how seriously he takes his call, but his pessimism might not be the most accurate reflection of reality.
“Achmed’s Investment” tells of an Egyptian casting seed abroad in a floodplain (the Nile). Like “Whistling Jigs to Milestones,” it deals with feelings of futility in ministry. This essay is an incredible exhortation to risk and unselfishness.
The only way to keep a thing is to throw it away.
“A Box of Blocks”, describing Jesus as Alpha and Omega, asks:
Which, I ask myself, is the greater—the literature or the alphabet? And I see at once that the alphabet is the greater because it is so inexhaustible. . . .
As the disciples discovered on the road to Emmaus, I cannot understand my Bible unless I take Him as being the Key to it all.
“Be Shod with Sandals” also has an interesting take on ministry and work”
The ox is ready for service in the field or for sacrifice in the temple. . . . “Be shod with sandals;” so that, whether the Revelation or the Road shall call you, you are ready for either. The ministry is neither mundane nor monastic; the minister wears sandals that he may keep in touch with two worlds.