I remember a class period early in my first year of college. It changed my life.
It was a Bible School and I already knew the Bible pretty well. The subject of the class was Theology Proper, which is, the Study of GOD; His person, His attributes, His character. I actually thought the class would be dry, but upperclassman told me I was fortunate to have this teacher. Mostly he taught senior students.
So I turned up for the first class wondering what to expect.
Dr. Needham shuffled up to the podium (it was a large class with theater seating). He looked uncomfortable, and I wondered why. He hesitated, and started by confessing that he was nervous. I am really confused.
He said that he has taught this material before, but he is always fearful about it. My ears grew bigger to catch every word. I shewed away the question marks that were filling my head. And focused on what he would say next.
He said, “It is easy to talk about someone when they are not there with you. You might mistakenly give some false information or offer a few biased opinions, but they are not there to hear it. If later it comes back to you, you can always deny or make excuses for it.”
He continued, “The subject of this class is not an intellectual subject, it is a Living Person. More than that. This Living Person is not off somewhere else, He is right here in this room every minute of every class period. More than that, he observes every moment of work I put into preparing for this class. I cannot sneak anything past Him. And how can I be lazy or blasé before such a BEING?”
Dr. Needham must have given us some time to digest this, but then he led many of us on a trip we had never made before. He led us up, beyond the clouds, beyond earth’s atmosphere, beyond the known boundaries of our small galaxy and little universe, to a blindingly bright, holy Throne Room. Cherubim and seraphim and countless myriads of angelic beings surrounded the throne. The Indescribable Being on that Throne was too blindingly bright for a human to even dream of seeing. And Dr. Needham must have kept us there many minutes without us even thinking of time.
Somehow, Dr. Needham brought us back to earth. We found ourselves back in the classroom and sitting in our chairs. But some of us would never see life the same again.
N.B. Dr. Needham was not a rhetorician or a performer. And I have never attempted to do what he did that class period; leading others to the Throne Room. With him it was genuine. He knew God, not as a subject to teach. Not as a compilation of attributes to be labeled, described, and tested on. He knew God as The Divine Living Being, to be feared and worshipped and adored. May we do the same.