That first class session was normal in every way until we came near the end of the evening. In a moment of special inspiration Dr. Sanner began to speak passionately—preach really—about the burdensome joy of pastoral work and of a life given to the service of Christ and the church. I have not forgotten the climactic moment of that rousing message when with tears in his eyes he looked into the hope-filled and naive faces of his students. We were so eager to “get on with it” and yet somehow, under the unction of the Spirit, he sparked in us a vision for a whole life of learning and service. He said, “Tonight, I see the stars shining in your eyes as you dream of fulfilling the call that God has placed in your hearts. Across the years I have seen far too many of those shining lights grow dim and even go out. It need not be that way. Brothers and sisters, keep them shining, keep them shining, keep them shining!”
As I walked back across the campus that night toward my room in Chapman Hall, I was aware that something had happened in me that has remained to this very day. A vision was cast that later I would hang on the words of Charles Wesley, also first given to me by Dr. Sanner: “Let us unite the two so long disjoined: knowledge and vital piety.”
Thank you Dr. Sanner and thanks to Northwest Nazarene University for helping to cast my life as a minister of the gospel in whom, by the grace of God, the light is still shining.