Cliches can be true. Nearly everyone is familiar with “when one door closes, God will open another one” (yes, there are slight variations to it, but the point is made, I trust). I’ve found that to be the case in my life. Academic doors closed for me a number of times, but there was always a new door that opened almost immediately afterward. The latest closed door led to my church hiring me as a teacher with the specific task of developing new courses for adult education. This was an unforeseen decision, but God specializes in doing unforeseen things.
Membership in an Episcopal church is not something I ever expected to happen, yet the path the Lord has led me on, with a new field of scholarship centered on C. S. Lewis, has been His doing over the past few years. A trip to the UK in 2017, which included visiting Lewis’s home and worshiping/visiting Anglican cathedrals, prepared me for this new path. I wrote about that spiritual journey in a post a couple of years ago. You can find it here, if interested.
My teaching at the church began before I was hired. First was a class on The Screwtape Letters, followed by a class that covered key chapters in Mere Christianity combined with the book I authored, America Discovers C. S. Lewis. After that, I taught two classes on The Chronicles of Narnia that lasted eight months. It was such a blessing to have this outlet, and the research for them was so rewarding.
Earlier this year, I developed and taught C. S. Lewis on Life, Death, and Eternity, drawing from Surprised by Joy, The Problem of Pain, The Great Divorce, A Grief Observed, and that masterful sermon, “The Weight of Glory.”
Lewis is not my only subject matter. My series on church history began with the early church this past April-June. Medieval church history is scheduled for next year and the era of the Reformation to the present the year after that. This week I begin the first of a two-part teaching on the history of Christianity in America.
A course like that is over thirty years in the making, pulling together everything I’ve taught on the subject as a professor of American history. Further, I’ve developed a video series on worldviews—Biblical; Greek and Roman; medieval; scientific revolution; Enlightenment; Romanticism; Darwinism; Marxism, etc.—that will be uploaded to YouTube early next year. What is most satisfying about this series is that it’s not just me as a talking head; the production will be top-notch, interspersed with visuals highlighting what I am teaching. I look forward to the finished product.
Yet I’m not leaving Lewis behind. A year from now, I will teach a course on the Ransom Trilogy. These three novels, underappreciated by too many, are favorites of mine. I wrote an earlier post about the development of this course—you can find it here. Many thanks to authors who have written about the trilogy and have helped me prepare: David Downing; Christiana Hale; Diana Glyer. I also need to mention Michael Ward for his dissection of The Abolition of Man, which is so central to the final book of the trilogy, That Hideous Strength. Ward’s latest, After Humanity, is indispensable. I reviewed it recently.
Why am I writing about this today? I just want to offer encouragement for anyone who may be going through a crisis of purpose and who may be wondering about whether the Lord has another open door for you. If we trust in Him, if we continue to love Him supremely, there is always an open door. That, I believe, is what this verse is all about:
And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28