BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (BP) — Can you recall your worst academic disaster? I certainly can.
I was in my second or third year of my doctor of ministry program at Gateway Seminary (then-Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) back in the mid-1980s.
The D.Min. program at that time was broken into three parts: 1) on-campus seminars — I absolutely loved these. I enjoyed the work and the time spent with my professors and fellow students. 2) The project phase and project report — I found this to be very challenging. 3) Supervised ministry — by far the most difficult part of the program for me. We had to create multiple levels of accountability including a faculty adviser, a field supervisor, a professional peer group and a lay consultation group within the church where I served.
Remember, this was before the day of the personal computer. In fact, only two men in our cohort had a computer of any kind. One was a Kaypro while the other was a Commodore 640 or something like it.
During that time, a family joined our church who owned two computers, including an Apple IIe. They offered to loan me the Apple IIe while I finished my D.Min. work and I gladly accepted. As part of the accountability process we had to maintain a daily, 15-minute incremental personal journal for six or more months that we would share with our field and faculty adviser. I stored mine on a 5-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disk.
One evening as I was adding to my journal the computer crashed and all the data on the floppy drive was gone. I had no idea where it went.
I literally fell to the ground and just sobbed and sobbed. I felt panic, fear and hopelessness all at the same time. I knew that my dream of completing the D.Min. program was gone. There was no way I could recreate three or four months of the journal.
My wife Carol came into the room and tried to help me deal with my intense feelings. After talking, praying and calming down I went into the bathroom and washed my face. Then I rebooted the computer and started over again. I had kept my daily notes so I started to rebuild the journal by memory and the accumulated notes.
That moment goes down as one of the worst of my life. When I was a high school sophomore I had decided to pursue a doctoral degree and, with the computer crash, I thought my goal was crushed and broken forever. I believed that I could not start over again.
Both beliefs were wrong, however. I could wash my face and start over again. I’ve done the same thing many times as a pastor and a missionary. Whether it was a bad business meeting or a sidewalk confrontation with an angry saint, I’ve learned that I can get up and start over again and again and again.
I celebrate this fact every Easter.
Because He is alive, I can start over again and again. And praise the Lord, so can you. Wipe your tears. Remember God’s promises. Remember the resurrection of Christ and start again.
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