When I began this series last week, I didn’t know it would last this many days. I had thought of providing a general overview, but as it progressed, I sought to share more details. I left out a lot of the pain. As I’ve told a number of people recently, the fact that I still believe in Christian higher education is one of the Lord’s minor miracles. There was a period in which I seriously debated within myself whether to continue as a professor; the discouragement seemed nearly overwhelming. At that time, I understood the words of Jeremiah when he complained to God about his calling:
O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived . . . because for me the word of the Lord has resulted in reproach and derision all day long.
Yet I also experienced the rest of Jeremiah’s thoughts:
But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name, then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones: and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.”
I remained faithful to the calling, learned to wait, and not to make decisions rashly. I realize it’s somewhat of a cliché, but true nonetheless, that God teaches us more in the hard times than when everything is smooth. When we are castigated rather than praised, we are more united with Christ because that is what He had to endure also.
When a new semester begins, when I walk into a new class for the first time, when I see expectant faces before me—that’s when the Spirit of God renews my strength and He reminds me that this is not about me. This is an opportunity to touch lives and make a difference for His kingdom. All of us are in constant need of that reminder, no matter what God has called us to be. We all have the obligation and the joy of being His mouth, hands, and feet.
I will continue to teach. Sometimes I joke about how long I will be a professor, and I say if someone can wheel me into the classroom, and I’m able to speak, and I have the remote control for my computer, I will be there. Retirement is not really a Biblical concept. As long as he gives me breath, I will accomplish whatever task He lays out before me.
After all, this is not the final act in the drama of life; it goes on into eternity.