Time to Blossom!
Tomorrow, April will arrive. Beginning next week, there will only be 5 weeks of classes on campus before final exams. Where has the time gone?
For some crazy reason, I've been thinking a lot these days about the future and reflecting (more than I usually do) on the past. This week of Easter Break is also turning out to be a time of spiritual renewal. The farm is the one place in the entire world where I feel like I can truly relax. Nothing, I find, renews me more than a brisk walk on the farm paths or a quiet visit with the animals in their pastures.
One thing I hope to do more of during the next few weeks is "call out the gold" in the lives of my students. I'm not sure where that expression originated, but I like it. God has designed each of them with a very special purpose in mind. They are his "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works." I believe it's essential that all of them fulfill God's purpose for their lives. When I see a student who shows exceptional ability in their studies and potential to become a teacher, I try to make sure they know what I am seeing rather than just keep my belief in them hidden. I tell them never to limit God in any way, shape, or form. God created us to go after the seemingly impossible.
I know this is true from personal experience. Little did I realize when I entered Biola as a college student in 1971 that God was preparing me to teach. Looking back, I realize that my goal in becoming a Bible major at Biola had no utilitarian purpose behind it; I simply loved the Bible and wanted to study it. I spent all of my time pursuing this dream. Thankfully, though, others were observing my life, perhaps even more carefully that I had been. Isn't it crazy how sometimes the smallest decisions have the most significant consequences in our lives? In 1976, while I was starting my M.Div. in New Testament at Talbot, Dr. Harry Sturz approached me and asked me if I would consider teaching 11 units at Biola that fall. I suddenly found myself in the classroom not as a student but as an instructor. I felt God speaking to the depths of my heart for the first time about my vocation. God told me (not audibly, but you know what I mean) that he would use the talents he gave me to help others know him better through learning how to read the New Testament in Greek. I began to see the potential in me that I hadn't seen before. Everything changed. My purpose from then on was to nurture the talent that God had put inside me.
That September day back in 1976 was one I will never forgot. On that day I began an adventure with God that's lasted 44 years and even now is evolving into a wonderful new season of life. But that day would not have happened without the head of the Greek Department at Biola seeing potential in one of his students and taking a (big) risk in hiring him to teach Greek. I didn't realize it at the time, but God had been preparing me for that very moment -- from my days growing up in Hawaii to my college days at Biola to my choice to stay at Talbot for my masters degree rather than going somewhere else.
Dear reader, if you want to know God's will for your life, why not consider talking to someone who is older and wiser than you, someone who knows you well and can perhaps see your giftedness better than you can? Find someone who will tell you what your gifts are and what those gifts might be equipping you to do with your life. With my students, I don't want to just teach them Greek. I try to learn about them -- about their abilities, their gifts, their interests, their aspirations, their fears. There is no greater blessing for a teacher than to help someone find their purpose in life.
My friend, God in his goodness has great plans for you. When I went to Biola, I would have never guessed what lay in store in for me. But God had it all planned out in advance. All I had to do was fully embrace his plan by faith, trusting that he would lead me all the way. He did, he is, and he will. And to those of you who are advanced in years and are perhaps even considering retirement: others are watching your actions and your attitudes. Don't diminish the impact you can make. Pass on your stories of hope and God's faithfulness to the next generation. The word of God should fill us with thankful hearts that he is personally interested in our lives and careers. Are you willing to be used by him perhaps in ways you never expected? You have the capacity to accomplish so much in life. God doesn't want you to end up feeling like you wasted your life. It's your turn to blossom. It's your turn to bring beauty to a desert like a cactus does when it opens up in spring time.
Problems and obstacles do not exempt us from fulfilling our purpose in life. Hope in God's unchanging promises. Look for his plan in every circumstance and in every voice you encounter daily. Ask him to open your eyes to what he has in store for you. When Harry Sturz approached me that day in 1976 to teach Greek, within a matter of moments my life was changed forever. Since then I have never doubted my calling.
Church, let's cultivate a culture of "calling out the gold" in the people around us. You never know what impact that can have.
March 31, 2021
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.