I’ve had a few moments in life that were defining. I’d like to write about one of them for today’s blog.
I went to a bible college (Manhattan Christian College). I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I got there: I wanted to be a preacher. I enrolled in all the preaching classes I could, and I’ll never forget the first day of my first preaching class “Intro to Preaching.”
My professor was an old guy, in his 60s named Mr. Deckard. He looked exactly like Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. Had these huge thick glasses that would make his eyes look bigger than they were, and he’d watch us from the back fo the classroom with those big, intense eyes, and you couldn’t help but feel like little hobbits skittering up Mt. Doom under the evil gaze of the Eye of Sauron.
I remember that first day of class… while most other professors would open up the syllabus and take us through all the requirements for the class, and we would get out early, not Mr. Deckard. He walked slowly into the podium at the front of our classroom, a small rectangular room and gently placed an old, tattered Bible before him. Without looking up from the podium, he leafed his way carefully through the New Testament, stopping on a page, marked up from years of study. All was silent except for the papery sound of bible pages being turned and the soft whir of the air conditioning. He began to read from the book of Luke:
“…and you my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go on before the Lord to prepare a way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercies of our God by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Then, he looked up from his ancient script. His eyes gazed at us ten or so young men in the room with utmost intensity. “That,” he said, “is the goal of preaching. We live in a world that is sitting in darkness. People are slaves to sin and darkness and evil. The purpose of preaching is to be a light to those people, to give them a knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Don’t ever forget it. If your goal is anything else than that, you better find a different profession.”
A defining moment for me. In that moment, I heard a whisper from heaven that called out to me in that class. All I heard was “you.” This was me. This was my passion. I’d been created for this. I left the class weeping, because I couldn’t contain the power I’d felt in that moment. I’d felt that the hot coal had touched my unclean lips. “Preach,” would become my mandate, the challange, the call, the summoning which would consume me for the rest of my life.