Today is the first anniversary of my receiving the news that, after fourteen years, I no longer would be a full-time professor at my university in Florida. The news last April came without warning; there was no advance notice, not even a hint that my position was in jeopardy. It was also too late to find another full-time professorship for the fall semester anywhere else. This surprising news marked the end of thirty-one years teaching history at Christian colleges on a full-time basis. It’s probably needless to say—although I will say it regardless—that the news came as a shock.
The cliche often used is that when one door closes, another opens. This change in my life was a test for that cliche. Would it really prove true?
Christians, though, cannot trust in cliches. Their trust needs to be in the goodness and provision of the Lord. That was the test I had to face, and I had faced it on more than one occasion in the past. In fact, my career in Christian higher education—all thirty-one years of it—covered tenures at three previous Christian colleges. Each time a door closed, another one opened. Would it again this time?
After getting this news, I took a long walk. Looking back, I can say honestly that, no matter how unwelcome the news had been, my thoughts rather automatically turned to “Well, Lord, what do you have for me now?” In fact, disappointed as I certainly was at this turn of events, as I prayed, I began to anticipate a new path, a different future with a different emphasis. I never really entertained the fear that my life, my career, my ministry, and my usefulness to God’s Kingdom had abruptly ended.
First, I knew from experience that circumstances don’t dictate what God can do. If He still had a purpose for me, I believed He would show me what that would be. He had done so three times before; He would do so again. Second, I rested on the promise that He would also provide the financial wherewithal to get us through the transition period. It led to the decision to sell our house, which was perfectly fine with me. Practical steps with a financial planner is another way that the Lord provides. The house sold quickly and the financial planner helped us make a wise decision with the proceeds.
Shortly after learning that I was no longer full-time at the university, I was asked to continue there as an adjunct professor. This was a blessing, not only financially, but it also allowed me to focus on the upper-level history courses that I prefer to teach. Many bureaucratic burdens associated with being a full-time professor no longer took up my time.
Then I was blessed by my church deciding to take me on as a paid teacher. That which I had been doing as a volunteer now came with a salary, albeit with greater expectations. I am now in the process of developing courses that will be beneficial to a church body that is eager to learn and to grow in the faith. It’s an honor to be part of this ministry.
My first course under this new dispensation was “C. S. Lewis on Life, Death, and Eternity.” I’m now teaching a second course: “Early Church History.” The next two semesters, starting in September, I’ll offer the history of Christianity in America and I’m also working on a series of presentations on worldviews that will be put up on YouTube under the church’s sponsorship.
In a previous post, I noted that my future Lewis course will be on the Ransom Trilogy, novels that I have loved for decades. On top of all that, I’m teaching an adult class on Sundays ten months of the year.
So this post today is intended as a praise for what the Lord can do in an uncertain time in one’s life. I decided to write it as an encouragement for anyone else going through a tough time, whether similar to mine or not. Proverbs 3:5-6 has not been removed from Scripture:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.