I am always disarmed by the innocuous conversation starter “What’s happening?” So much has been happening to me lately I am at a loss to know where to start. Do I go with “Well let’s see, two years ago I was happily minding my own business, looking forward to a quiet retirement in a couple of years, but now I find myself in Asia teaching at a university preparatory college stretched to the max and loving it?” Or do I settle for the simple “Nothing much. You?”

Not that what happened two years ago was unexpected, and that is the point of this post. You see my life, like that of countries, ideas and religions has a narrative arc, and I know more or less where I am in it. That is the beauty of a life that is illuminated by sense of purpose: there is a story, and I am part of it.

My story is common enough. I was a happy little kid, loving life and having fun until I got blindsided by adolescence, and found myself challenging every conceivable authority and entrenched sacred cow on my way to finding out what in this wide world was not phony. When I read Catcher in the Rye I thought Holden Caufield a timid little poser who didn’t push the envelope far enough.

I accepted Christ when I was 27 because in all the patently false rubbish that passes for spiritual insight in the world the Bible was the only thing that rang true. I wasn’t expecting anything from God in return. Boy was I surprised. I almost instantly came to grips with the fact that my teaching was actually a calling from God. He had gifted me for that job and He had a purpose He wanted me to accomplish through it. My job has taken me to Bangladesh, Germany, Malawi and now Malaysia. It has financed the mortgages of six homes and paid for the schooling of three kids. It has given Pam and I vacations in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia. And most importantly of all, it has allowed me to impact the lives of thousands of students to whom I have been called to witness what Christian faith looks, talks and acts like when it deals with the vital issues of life everyday. 

It is that witness that means the most to me, and the reason I am here. It is part of the story of who I am; a story rooted in what I do for a living. I am a teacher; that defines and shapes me, gives me huge amounts of stress, but also huge amounts of satisfaction, and allows me to fulfil the purpose that God has for me. God is writing the story of my life in all the experiences and phases of my life that He takes me through; now scolding, now encouraging, all to mold in me someone that is worthy of the name ‘Christian.’ I am not there yet, (as my family is painfully aware) but each day is a new page with something new to learn that has eternal meaning in the narrative of my life. Can anyone ask for a richer life than that?

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