On this day, as I commemorate my 64th revolution around the sun, I look back on how God has led and guided and am grateful. Many people make fun of small towns, but I’m glad I grew up in one. My neighbor children first invited me to go to Sunday School with them; that was how the Lord drew me to Himself, as I readily accepted the Word given to me.
My undergraduate days were a time of solidifying what I believed and meeting the one to whom I have been married now for almost 43 years. I look at this picture and think, well, we haven’t changed much, have we? At least I used to think that, but when I show the picture to my students without telling them up front just who those people are, they have a hard time recognizing me. Yes, time marches on.
I’m grateful for early opportunities to work in the media, primarily as a radio announcer, which helped me develop as a speaker. Then I learned invaluable lessons as headmaster of a Christian school. The most valuable is that God continually works with us to bring us closer to Himself, even when we do our best to walk away from Him.
Yes, I had a time that I now consider the dark night of my soul. I wandered for some years, spiritually almost-dead, but the Lord specializes in bringing people back from the dead. This picture is rather embarrassing now, but I thought I looked really cool during this time in my life. I’m thankful for a wife who weathered all the storms and stood with me. She still does.
After the Lord redeemed me a second time, and I looked upon Him as the God of the Second Chance, more opportunities opened, and He allowed me, in spite of myself (and that’s exactly how I see it) to begin a career/ministry as a university professor. That part of my life didn’t start until I was 38. I used to joke about what I wanted to be when I grew up, and that I didn’t figure it out until I was almost 40.
My experiences at a number of Christian universities have been varied, but no matter what I’ve had to learn on this journey, one thing has remained constant: God has put me here to teach students, and I have to devote myself to that task. Most of the time, it’s been a joy to do so. One of the blessings of this “later” time of my life has been the connection I’ve maintained with former students—from Indiana Wesleyan, Regent, Patrick Henry, and now at Southeastern.
If you compare this photo with the first couple, you can see that I’ve definitely changed. But inside, I’m still the same. I’m still someone who truly wants to serve God in whatever way He leads, and for as long as He lets me.
And you know what? I don’t feel too old yet. I sense there are many years of ministry remaining to me. Yet I know the caution in the book of James about not making plans without first saying, “If the Lord wills.” That is the attitude of my heart today.
So I celebrate the fact that God has given me another year to accomplish His will. I’ll hang around and continue to do so for as long as He wants.