A funny thing happened to me on the way to college (actually it happened during my last year of high school). Senioritis… that attitude that stikes some who reach their limit on all the book learning that has taken up so much of their meager life.
I mentioned in my last post that I had decided to become a veterinarian. Well, in Michigan THE place to go to become a vet is Michigan State University (Moo U is its nickname). Graduating 4th out of 82 students in high school showed that I had what it took academically to get in there. Being dropped in the middle of the 40,000+ student body was a shock that this country bumpkin wasn’t quite prepared for.
I knew the demands of the school work was something I could do, if I could just get the required motivation to do it. I also recognized that I needed to be involved with fellow Christians to keep myself on the straight and narrow. I saw a flier on a bulletin board announcing a frisbee gathering put on by one of the Christian organizations. I was pretty good with a frisbee so I knew this would be my best shot at finding Christian peers. For some reason I didn’t go (I don’t know why… lethargy, I think).
I’ll never forget the weekend that my room-mate went home to visit his girlfriend. With the room to myself I had a heart to heart conversation with Jesus about what I was doing (or not doing) with my time and life. I was at the halfway point of the first ten week term and couldn’t find any motivation to keep going in the direction I was on. I recognized the traps and temptations that surrounded me in this environment, and my need for reinforcing encouragement. I also saw the incredible opportunity that lay before me in order to get this level of education (something many others could only dream of).
I’ll always remember the moment I decided to count my losses and return home; I feared the atmosphere I was in would only taint my walk with Jesus. Philippians 4:7 talks about ‘the peace of God , which transcends all understanding…’, that peace flooded over me in such an unexpected wave that I never doubted my decision was the right one. I didn’t know what the future held for me, but I knew I’d rather be walking with Jesus by my side than to just be walking with the crowd.
This was the weekend when the fall time change took place. So, the extra hour was supposed to give everybody an extra hour of sleep. I was on such a high from this peace of God (a high that I’m sure my room-mate was searching for in those home rolled things that he smoked with his friends) I couldn’t sleep. I think I got about 3 hours of sleep toward morning, finally.
I spent the rest of that school year working on the family farm. In the spring I got a letter in the mail from Muskegon Business College. The letter said something like… ‘Has your first year out of high school been what you expected? If not, then come check us out.” They had two things stongly in their favor: 1. My first year out of high school was nothing like what I had expected; and 2. My high scholl sweetheart was attending there (I told you she’d show up in another post), I knew if anything was going to blossom in this relationship this would be our best opportunity.
MBC only offered two year degrees related to business. I decided on their dual accounting/data processing degree. My first experience with computer programming was the last year they used punch cards to feed into the computer to tell it what you wanted it to do (yeah, it was that long ago). I found out that a two year degree won’t go very far in the real world… and I wasn’t motivated enough to complete a four year degree (that Senioritis wasn’t totally out of my system, yet).
Cindy and I did spend some time together, went on a few dates, but that final spark never quite caught hold. I’m not sure what was missing, perhaps if her walk with Christ was stronger… I don’t know. We made attempts to stay in touch for the next couple of years. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to settle down then (remember that I mentioned I’ve never been in a hurry to do anything, here’s one case in point).
I continued to attend the small country church with my Mom and sisters. I eventually conducted the preliminary activities for Sunday School a few times (I’d seen it done so long that I knew it all by rote at this time). We had enough families attending that we started a youth group (I was kind of a half member of the group and half part of the leadership). It was during this time that the church body decided to take on a full-time pastor to try to build our fledgling group. My Mom was a member of the selection commitee so I got to hear what the process entailed.
Jeff Shimp was the man chosen to shepherd our flock. He made attempts at mentoring me as best he could while taking on this new role for him, as well as fathering his young family. My youngest sister, Lora, was in her senior year of high school, so Pastor Jeff suggested we look into the small Bible college that our church was affiliated with (I hadn’t even known we were affiliated with a Bible college until then).
I have always been desiring to let Jesus have the control of my life, so I knew that my best option for finding His leading for me would quite possibly be found at this SMALL Bible college located 50 miles South of the farm. That will be the next post.
I’ll see you later. Wade