Bitter Sweet Day
Today is a bittersweet day. Before I begin, I want to give all the glory, honor, and praise to my Lord Jesus Christ because without Him none of this would be possible. I also want to give thanks for those who have helped me through these last two years and four months. These people have prayed for me and helped me edit and correct mistakes and have reformulated the way I look at scripture and history. My wife, three children, mom, dad, sister, brother, Closer Home Church, Gospel Chapel, Sunset View Baptist, Free Clinic, Facebook, Twitter friends, (yes social networks is not all evil) family and friends from Florida, my supervisors and the Air Force, professors and advisors with Liberty University, and I know there are many more that I have forgotten. Without their prayers and help in my school and ministry it would not have been possible.
From my elementary and high school days I was a “do what I can to get by” kind of guy. I had no aspirations of going any further in my education. In 2004, I joined the Air Force and I still had no aspirations of continuing my education. Midway through my career, it became mandatory to take classes if I wanted to receive a good EPR, which would affect my promotions. I fought it and tried my best to work around going to college. In 2008, I began having surgery on my knees to correct the years of abuse I have given them, and it changed the way I had to work. Many times, after surgery, I was limited to working at a desk and it was driving me up the wall. When I moved to Arizona, I had another surgery, which was probably the harshest one yet, and it limited me again, to light work. A few months before the surgery I began having a call upon my life that God was trying to instill into my head, and again I fought it. After much debate, I decided to start college to occupy my mind and to finally take advantage of free tuition (which would not take away from my G.I. Bill). I had no clue what I was going for, so I started with English 101. I soon realized as I was being called into the ministry I hungered for more knowledge in God’s Word and that directed me to Wayland Baptist which I started a History class. Suddenly, my direction in education had been confirmed.
In February of 2011, I left the Air Force and returned home with my family and by August of 2011, I continued my education with Liberty University. I started with my Associates of Arts in religion. During this time, there were many difficulties that had to be overcome but by May of 2013, I walked and received my Associates of Arts in Religion with honors. Finally, something to show for all the papers and work I had put into this degree. I gained a wealth of knowledge during this process and no price can be given for this knowledge. My English and writing skills improved and I loved math. Science and history was a struggle but the Bible classes made up for that. After graduation, I continued with my Bachelors of Science in religion, as many of my previous classes rolled over into my Bachelors. The next two semesters proved to be extremely tough and I am not positive why, only to guess it was because I was weary and I was so close to completing my Bachelors.
This last semester I had Daniel-Revelation class, Church History 302, and Theology of Jesus Christ. Today I have turned in my last paper in the Theology of Jesus Christ and as the title suggests it is bitter sweet. I am thrilled to have completed everything and been able to complete my Bachelors with Summa Cum Laude, assuming there is nothing majorly wrong I will be receiving my degree sometime next year. The bitter part is that it is over. Of course, there is the Master’s program that I could enter into but it is scary because I believe it is a different beast in itself and could be harder. The timeline of completion is four years and that is scary as well. I debated and prayed for a long time if I should enter into such a program. On the negative side I would not have the extra free time, more debt, have to start paying back student loans, more stress, and if I continued part of my financial aid and book vouchers cease, and I could not teach at a collegiate level. The positive side is I would be learning more and I would be getting closer to teaching at a collegiate level.
At first, I began praying and then I talked with my wife. Of course, she supported me going further, but I still was not convinced. I debated for months. Financially, everything lined up where I would not have to pay out of pocket (except for my books) but looking at that timeline of completion it still worried me. The thought of what to do after I completed my Masters began to loom in my mind. Would I go for my doctorate and if so which direction would I go, because I had not decided which area my Masters would be in. I talked to a Professor in the religion department and he encouraged me to go in the direction that sparked my interest and passion. He asked, “if I was going to teach, what area I would want to teach in.” From the choices, it was obvious I love apologetics and biblical studies. Guess that answered my question huh. I applied for my Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies and was accepted. Even after I was accepted, I debated starting.
I continued praying and searching. I asked myself “why I started college to begin with.” The answer was drawn out and not very simple. I wanted to change the way people looked at God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and the Bible. I wanted to share knowledge and strengthen the Christians faith, share the Truth with non-Christians, along with preaching and teaching the Word. Now I want everyone to know I do not believe one must go to college or Seminary to preach the Word, it was something I was led to do and I believe God put me in that position to do it, therefore, not everyone has that opportunity. A piece of scripture came to mind as I write this, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life and I want to feed, Jesus Christ is the Living Water and I want to give water to those that are thirsty, there are many strangers that need to be welcomed, and as sinners we are all naked and sick without the truth and we need the clothing of a perfect and righteous man named Jesus. Prison is somewhere we all have been and some are still in and they need to be free. Every minister preaches/teaches in different ways and they are taught in different ways. For me to feed, give drink, clothe/heal and free people, I realize I needed to continue.
Now, not to say I am not scared to death, but I find comfort in Philippians 4:13 and knowing I have people that are going to pray me through. It will be a long road ahead but I feel the benefits, rewards, and blessings will be worth far more than I can ever imagine. There are many times in my ministry I feel I fail or if I do succeed, I still fail and there are times I may never know the affect I may have on one’s life. However, as sanctification is defined, I am still a work in progress. Again, I thank all those involved my wife’s and my ministry. I cannot thank those enough that has had a difference in our lives. I am walking and living proof that God lives and can change even a hardheaded sinner like me.
To God be the glory forever and ever amen:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9-13).