The Tabernacle

I began my Bible training officially in 1965 to become a minister. I will always remember when our pastor’s wife and her friend drove me to the school and left me alone at the side of this country road where it met the lane leading onto campus somewhere in Eastern Pennsylvania, Montgomery County.  [The “lane” is shown above.] I stood there for a moment perhaps a bit apprehensive while trying to piece together the personal history that lead to here.  I began slowly to compose my thoughts sufficient to take one step closer to the campus.  I took another and began to walk cautiously into what was to become my future.

The evening I arrived at NBI the air was different—a precursor of exciting things to come—fresh and refreshing, unlike the diurnal metallic tasting smog of the city. I would soon discover the night sky. The city sky was a canopy of darkness denying the stars their admiring audience. The sky on campus, here in the country, was a universe of lights that always spoke to this Sunday school graduate of divine covenants. But, then, all this was frightening to me for I had only read about such things in books.

As I walked unto campus a soft breeze caressed my shoulders like an ordained comfort. I sauntered along making my way first to “The Tabernacle,” an open air sanctuary on the edge of this small plot of land where I would spend the next three years before marrying and spending my final year off campus. The Tabernacle was a sideless, wooden tent with rows of old unpainted benches—space enough to seat a thousand worshippers. But aside from God, I was alone. Silent tears watered my cheeks as I walked toward the platform. I longed for God to make sense of this.

Am I where He wanted me to be!? In my heart, I could have no future without Him; so, if this was a gross misstep, I was, indeed, in a difficult place.  I was already being eaten alive by nostalgia. I had never been away from the city for more than a week at a time and that only a few times in twenty years and now that thought was pushing its way to the front of the line to be heard: I might never go back!  From school, as it turned out, I would start ministry that would lead me farther away from the only home in the only culture in the only city I had ever known.

I strolled up and down among those empty benches, making my way behind the platform into a makeshift prayer room and back out again, talking to God, sharing my heart, my anxiety, my homesickness, and above all, my desire to follow Him.  It wasn’t a question of His forsaking me;  it was a question of my not forsaking Him.

An hour  [?]  went by when I finally continued my walk to the administration building.  I was on my way.

taken from Talking to God: How I Found Peace

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