In 2010 our family moved to Louisville so that I could enter the PhD program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a bastion of sound doctrine and academic excellence, and with a faculty second to none, Southern Seminary was already appealing for doctoral work. But when I was living in Houston in 2005, God used a man named Jim Hamilton to impact my life, and I wanted even then to pursue a PhD under his supervision. When he eventually joined the SBTS faculty, the time seemed right for me to apply. He agreed to supervise me, and so things were in motion.
We left Texas to move to a city where we had no friends or family. We arrived in Louisville on August 2, 2010. The journey began, and it was not easy. The rigor of the program, the pursuit of job and income stability, and the multiplication of children all made for a fascinating and sanctifying combination of life challenges. We came to Louisville with one kid, Jensen, who wasn’t even two yet. He’s now five, and yesterday on graduation day, he said with a smile, “Daddy, I’m proud of you graduating.” Two other boys entered the fray as well along the way. Stacie was pregnant with Logan during my first year in the program, and she was pregnant with Owen during my last year in it. We didn’t frame it that way on purpose, but God did.
We’ve watched the Lord provide throughout these years, and we are amazed. Almost two years ago, he brought Kosmosdale Baptist Church into our path, and we are blessed to serve that church. God’s will is perfect, his timing is wise, and his care is unfailing.
Stacie and I praise the faithfulness of God who has brought us to the end of a long journey, and I do mean us. Doctoral work is not easy on a family. Many long days, long nights, long papers, and a long dissertation! I have a loving and supportive wife who is a gift from God to me. During our eight years of marriage, I have been in school somewhere writing papers for someone, and now a wonderful and refreshing change of pace has arrived.
But it was good to do a hard thing. A goal can be worth the blood, sweat, and tears. During my PhD work, Dr Hamilton once said, “When you’re standing on that stage on graduation day, you want to be able to say, ‘I’m standing here because of the mercy of God!'” Yesterday, December 13,2013, was graduation day, and as I walked onto the stage when my name was called, I felt the truth of those words. It was by mercy, all of it. In hindsight we can see blessings that we failed to acknowledge along the way. Things that looked like obstacles turned out to be opportunities. God meant it all for good, ordering our steps at every point.
Learning is a joy and privilege, and I’m so grateful for years of study at Southern Seminary. God rained mercy on these years, and we’re still drenched. May the fruit of this academic labor bring him glory and serve the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.