By: John Edmondson
I remember the day clearly; sitting in a lecture hall for the first time in 20 years. I remember smiling and shaking my head, and thinking to myself “how did I end up here?” With a mixture of wonder and amazement (and a dash of fear), I began my journey as a 42-year-old college student at the Institute for G.O.D. last fall. I had returned to school with a desire on my heart that no longer could be denied. It grew into this overwhelming hunger to serve others. In order for me to do that and do it well, I needed a greater understanding of the Word. I needed to have it written on my heart in a way that I would able to share it with others and serve Christ in a greater capacity. I was no longer content with “milk” but longed for the “solid food” I knew I would find in studying the Bible at the Institute.
Going back to school had to be a priority for myself and my wife. It had to be something we were both committed to because of the scope of our life and the time it would require. I was not an 18-year-old stepping on a college campus for the first time. I was a husband, a father of five children (the youngest just 6 months old at the time), I had a full-time job and had just started dipping my toes into ministry work through our CASE after-school program. This undertaking had to be approached with a certain seriousness and vigor—not only because of my reasoning for taking it on to begin with, but also because I would have to be diligent with the time I had allotted to do the work required to be successful.
At the Institute there are options to take classes either in the morning or in the evening. Most older students, due to their jobs and other commitments, typically take classes in the evening. I chose to go the other route and take morning classes. I do well in the morning and I wanted to fully immerse myself in the college experience. I’ve enjoyed being in class with your more prototypical college-aged students. I love seeing their fervent love for the Word. I am encouraged and strengthened by their enthusiasm to delve deeper into their call to serve and what takes place when God meets them there. I look on with amazement at their confidence in knowing what God has called them into at such a young age.
When I was a younger man, I was not in a place similar to my classmates. I was not living a life pleasing to the Lord nor was I willing to give up the trappings this world has to offer. Having been in that place and living the life that I have lived has brought me to a different place, with a different viewpoint in the classroom. Unlike younger classmates, I feel I am more aware of my days. I’m here to fulfill the desires I believe the Lord has always had for me. I love the excitement I feel walking into a class knowing that the Word is going to be illuminated to me in a new and exciting way.
In a gathering of the older institute students after the spring semester, Gregg Garner (President of the Institute and Founder, President of G.O.D. Int’l) shared this passage in Joel which speaks of older men dreaming dreams and younger men having visions:
This has begun to happen for me in this new chapter in my life. I am getting to confidently take on new opportunities that God has led me into, situations that I would have never dreamt of tackling on my own. Through Christ, I am discovering a capacity I never realized I possessed. I may be aware of my days, but I am also well aware of God’s presence in everything that I get to do.