In the fall of 1996, I showed up on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I had a couple of suitcases, a few boxes of odds and ends, a couple pieces of furniture…and that was it. I didn’t even have a car. My parents took me to Louisville, helped me set up something that resembled a home for a single guy in a small campus apartment on the second floor of Judson Hall. When the last piece was in place, we hugged…and cried…and they left. I was a student at SBTS without a clue as to what to do next. By God’s grace, my good friends, Tom Campbell and Doug Williams and their wives were already on campus and had already learned the lay of the land and were a great help to me in starting this new life. I can remember that first night just like it was yesterday. I felt alone…alone-alone. My wife-to-be, Kris, was at her home in Columbus. The weirdness of it all was just crazy. I had never felt like that in my entire life. All I had were a few theological books that my gracious Aunt Diane had given me, a computer that my dear friend of many years, Kelly, had given me, a Bible, and a stack of paperwork from the seminary that I had been accumulating for weeks in preparation for the big move. The little apartment was not just my dwelling place…it was my life…and I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with it. The coming days contained orientation, reunions with some friends from Clear Creek, and a small list of activities for the new kids. But that first night…all I could do was watch the sun go down and wonder what the future was gonna look like. The bulk of my friends, my family, and my church family were in Tennessee…and I was in Louisville.
To pass the time that first night, I started looking over the stack of papers from the seminary. It was a quick trip down Memory Lane as I replayed the graduation from Clear Creek in May to this next big stop at Southern. God had been so gracious to me. While at Clear Creek I had met some of the dearest friends I would ever have…friends that are friends to this very day. As I had entered my last year of Bible college, God was quick to let me know seminary would follow. It was much more than a vague belief to stay in school, I knew I was supposed to go to Louisville…and here I was. I was excited, nervous, scared, anxious, and had already entertained a brief bout of loneliness as I watched Mom and Dad drive out of the parking lot. I literally cried for an hour after they left. The papers and literature I was looking at were things I could practically recite verbatim. I had been staring at them off and on for what seemed like hours a day for weeks. Nothing new was popping up…apparently, I was good to go and knew about as much as I could possibly know when I tossed the last piece of literature back into the box…the student handbook for the seminary. Just months before, the book had looked new and pristine. The day I opened the big envelope that arrived in the mail was like Christmas morning for me. God was leading, moving, and in control. The poor handbook had come to look tattered and torn from my zealous attempts to digest its contents. My little toss of the book caused it to land face-down. The back of the book merely had the school address and phone information. For some silly reason that I can’t explain, I reached down and turned the book over. The front was a little nicer than the back. The name of the seminary and the crest were on the front and it looked pretty cool. But the front also contained the school’s motto…a motto that hit me right smack dab in the head…”For Such a Time as This.” Oh I had read it a million times…but that night, I truly read and thought about it for the first time.
The motto was taken from the Old Testament book of Esther. Without going into too much detail, the book highlights the sovereignty of God in saving the Jewish people from a plot by an evil Persian named Haman. Esther, a Jewish woman, was the queen. Her uncle, Mordecai, asked her to speak to the king to try and help the situation. In the Persian empire, no one could approach the king unless they were summoned. Simply put, even his wife was not allowed to walk in and see him. Esther knew this. She would literally be risking her own life if she went to the king uninvited. It was then that Mordecai suggested she, too, would die if Haman’s plan came to fruition since she was a Jew. He then suggested that perhaps she had become the Queen of Persia “for such a time as this.” The story is awe-inspiring to say the least and certainly more than a little thought-provoking.
I sat there that evening in my little apartment trying to digest the greater truth of the moment. I was at Southern Seminary not by luck or chance…but by God’s bidding. I, along with the other students, were there “for such a time as this.” The same God who was at work in the Persian Empire all those years ago was also at work in Louisville, KY. The same God was at work in the lives of Mordecai and his niece, Esther, was also at work in my life as well. It is no small task to describe the peace the flooded by soul that evening. Oh, I was still a tad nervous and a bit unsure of a few things. But I did know I was there for a reason…at just the right time. I cannot tell you the number of times Mordecai’s words to his niece and Southern Seminary’s motto has helped keep my feet on the ground during times of worry and difficulty.
I wanted to share my moving to Louisville story with you because the truths it conveys are still relevant for all of God’s people. As Christians in today’s world, it can feel at times we are on the losing end of just about every scenario that pops up. With very little effort we can convince ourselves that chaos reigns and no one cares. Perhaps what’s worse is easy it is to dismiss our place in God’s great work. The new Covid world has caused many to stop coming to church, stop reading their Bibles, and some have even stopped praying. Maybe you’re thinking you will get back on your feet after everything else gets back in shape. But I want to encourage you today. You are where you are for such a time as this. Our churches are where they are for such a time as this. We are needed to serve in God’s kingdom here and now…for such a time as this. Though our nation is quickly changing and leaving her historic roots and once respected foundation…the Christian citizens walking her streets are doing so for such a time as this. Take a few minutes and read the first 4 chapters of Esther. I’m absolutely certain you will be glad you did.
Blessings y’all. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Sorry for the delay. Hoping to get back to some consistent posts. Merry Christmas.