Thirty-two years ago, as I took my last final exam and walked out of Langsdorf Hall at Cal State Fullerton, I said, “I will never take another class again!!” I was so done. That was my plan. But it wasn’t God’s plan. Three years ago, after years of being a stay-at-home-mom, raising boys, and attending countless bible studies, I still hungered for more depth in terms of knowing God and getting answers to questions I’d always had. The Lord was stirring my heart. What came next, I never would have believed.
The Lord was speaking to me loud and clear in more ways than one. I felt I wanted and needed to get a Masters in Theology or some kind of Christian education. But I had huge reservations. Wait, no—I had fears. So one day I poured out my heart to the Lord. I spent a day in prayer and told Jesus, “I am scared!! I’m afraid I can’t do it! I’m afraid John won’t approve or support this commitment and I’m afraid I’ll miss out on all the traveling I like to do!” Then I heard Jesus ask me, “Claudia, if I could promise you that I would take care of all those fears, would you do it?” I said, “In a heartbeat!!” So I knew that I had to surrender my fears and my will to the Lord and enroll.
John and I had attended an Apologetics (defending the Christian faith) conference in the High Desert. That was when I first met Dr. Clay Jones, who would become one of our professors and a good friend. He told me that an Apologetics degree was only 36 units and not 66 like a degree in Theology. The idea of being in school for 3 years instead of 8 (part time) sounded much more do-able to me, especially since I’d be taking Talbot seminary classes anyway. So John said, “Hey, if it’s only 36 units, I’ll do it with you!” So there was one fear I had, that God took care of!! Great! Now I had a study buddy and a carpool buddy!
We were admitted in January 2014 and began classes that spring semester, starting with only one class. For the next three years, we took every single class together and drove to campus once or twice a week. I was pumped and so excited to have the opportunity to sit and learn from the great professors from the Apologetics Dept. and Talbot Seminary. I was like a wide-eyed child. This is what I had always wanted. Blessing after blessing came pouring into our lives. We became good friends with many of our professors. We also made many friends with our fellow students who we are still in touch with, and some are 20-30 years our junior! It was an absolute blast sitting in the classroom again and engaging in the banter between the prof and students while learning incredible things about our God. In the meantime, we were also making friends with fellow Apologetics distance students via Face Book and Twitter. However, the greatest blessing in all of this was learning more about my Lord Jesus, who He is, and how He loves us. My faith has been strengthened and so has my zeal for wanting to share what I have learned. I absolutely loved every minute of it and felt it was a huge honor and a gift to be able to do what I was doing. As a result of taking a class with, and at the urging of author and speaker/apologist, Jim Warner Wallace, I started something else that was new to me, writing this blog.
John and I both worked very, very hard in every class, but the Talbot classes proved to be the most difficult and the most work. Since my GPA was low when I received my undergrad at CSUF, and since I love a personal challenge, I really wanted to see if I could get a 4.0 and asked Jesus to help me do it. There was no doubt in my mind that He would. I had to work very hard, but by God’s grace, and believe me, only by God’s grace, He enabled me to do it. I will be graduating with highest honors (4.0) and John with high honors as well. The Lord also kept both of us healthy the entire three years. Not once did we ever have to miss class due to illness. He protected us on the road all those days we had to drive to school and home late at night, sometimes not getting home until 10:30pm. We had the Lord’s provision and protection the entire time.
Did we miss out on any travel? Not a chance. When summer came, we were gone. The Lord answered my travel prayers by providing travel opportunities with not only with our travel buddies, but also with those with whom we would never have connected had we not been Biola students.
In summary, the Lord directed, guided and provided. While we were in this program we were blessed beyond measure. Jesus took care of every one of my fears, and then He heaped blessing over blessing on us. My husband not only supported me, but he joined me, we acquired more friends, engaged in more travel, received good grades, an excellent education, enhanced faith, and a future in apologetics.
After graduation, we are planning to continue teaching at our church, and getting involved with Ratio Christi. Ratio Christi is a Christian organization that teaches college and high school students apologetics in order to strengthen their faith and equip them for the secular environment they will encounter at the university. Now at 56, I feel an urgency to do what I can with whatever time I have left on this earth. We just never know when our time here is through, so we need to be making the best use of it always. Everything we own is the Lords, including our time. I’m just a mom trying to make a dent in my little corner of the world so that one day, I can hear my Lord say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
On Friday afternoon, December 16th, John and I will walk across the stage not only with Masters degrees, but also with a testimony of God’s grace by His provision, his protection and many, many blessings. In the same way that we will lay our crowns down at the feet of Jesus when we get to Heaven, I lay my diploma at His feet because it was His grace that enabled me to attain it. I couldn’t be more thankful to Jesus for all He has done for us, not only socially, educationally, travel-wise, and for our ministry, but for our marriage as well. We have been able to share something most couples don’t. Thank You Lord. It has been an incredible privilege to have been so blessed by You in the MACA program. I can’t wait to see where this adventure will lead us next.
My friends, if you ever feel like you can’t do something that the Lord may be nudging you to do, then you are forgetting how big our God is. Surrender your fears to the Lord, get out of the boat, take God’s hand, and let Him guide you across the water as He conforms you to His will. Sometimes His will for us parallels our deepest desires. Watch what He does with your life. You will see God and His love for you in a new way and the adventure will change you forever.