Our oldest grandson, Connor, started college this fall and is taking the basic core curriculum that he will need to eventually graduate. Earlier this week, I was thinking about college and all the courses that I had to take in order to fulfill my own requirements at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. I started out in the Engineering School, with the idea that I would become a bioengineer. I intended to design tools for brain surgery but lost interest when the metallurgy classes became cumbersome and boring.
Then, somewhere in my second year, I switched to Liberal Arts and Sciences as a biology major – thinking I would get my M.D. first before my requisite engineering degree. But, I came to realize that if I failed to get into medical school, I would be in a classroom dissecting frogs for the rest of my career – and that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So… I switched to an economics curriculum, thinking that would give me the greatest number of options for continuing my post graduate education.
I ended up being able to take the entire economics core curriculum during my junior year and had made the decision to go to school all four quarters of the year to finish as early as possible. Since almost all of the others courses I needed had already been fulfilled, I found myself with some free time that I decided to fill with electives.
One of those classes that I signed up for during the summer was a New Testament survey class. I had always had more than a passing interest in the Bible but had never received any sort of formal education in the Scriptures except in Sunday School. And while I enjoyed that, my Sunday School teachers weren’t all that knowledgable and would have rather talked about football or other sports.
Janet and I were getting married at the end of the summer quarter of my junior year, before my finals week. Frankly, it was a little odd to get married on Friday and start studying again for finals the following week. Our honeymoon in California waited until my last final, in my New Testament survey class, had been taken.
My junior year elective was the first time I every took a class on the Scripture. I don’t even remember that much about the class, but I did end up taking the companion class, an Old Testament Survey, the fall semester of my senior year. And then it was time to graduate. I pretty much forgot about my two electives for years – and that turned into decades.
When I got serious about continuing my education at the seminary level, I found out that there was a requirement that I had to have taken Bible courses in my undergraduate work. I requested transcripts from the U of I Chicago and, behold, there were the results of the two Bible survey classes that I had taken! Who would have thought those two classes were the reason that I was accepted into seminary!
The next eight years I attended graduate school pretty much full time. Those years were some of the most rewarding years of my life and led to opportunities to preach and conduct ministry that would have otherwise never happened. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now that I am almost retired from the corporate world, my passion for teaching the Bible is even greater than before. And all of it was possible because I took two electives in college that had nothing to do with my major. In fact, I never went on to medical school or engineering school – instead, I started a business…
I sometimes regret the fact that I wasn’t able to go on to medical school or end up as a bioengineer. But I have been blessed by being able to teach team dynamics to bioengineers and medical staffs throughout North America. In any event, God knew what He was doing when I was prompted to take those two courses back in 1973.
Our verse for tonight is a well-known verse frequently used in career transition ministries. As I sit here forty seven years later, I can see the twists and turns that God orchestrated throughout my life. The prophet Jeremiah tells us, in Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
That’s what I have done since my seminary days. I have sought the Lord with all my heart. My encouragement tonight is that God does orchestrate things for ultimate good in accordance with His will for our lives. My prayer is that when we have leadings from the Holy Spirit, we will follow through and trust God for the outcome. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…