Professor and Dept. Head, Mathematics and Science Education
Professor, Department of Career and Information Studies (Workforce Education)
Mary Frances Early College of Education
Dr. Hill’s Spiritual Journey – It wasn’t against the rules as far as we knew, but it probably would have been if the folks in university housing department had thought of it. My roommate and I had his Honda motorcycle engine disassembled and parts were scattered all across the floor of our 4th floor dorm room. We were trying to complete some repairs during the first few days of the semester before classes and homework consumed all of our time.
The previous year the guys across the hall had graduated and we knew some new residents would be moving in. When Dave came to the door and introduced himself, we acknowledged him with a nod and assumed his “watcha doing” was a rhetorical question. After all, most students, even among the large number of engineering majors, at NC State would not have appreciated us explaining the disintegration of the rubber roller on the overhead cam chain tensioner in my roommate’s motorcycle engine.
As it turned out, Dave was not just any student. He had served in the military and had been a mechanic for aircraft ground support equipment in the Air Force. His follow-up questions about our work on the motorcycle reflected a thorough understanding of high performance internal combustion engines, and I quickly noted that we had something in common. I later learned that we also had other similar interests including the same academic major and an appreciation for electronics and popular music. There were also some things we did not have in common.
Each morning Dave would begin his day by reading some passages from the Bible and praying about a list of concerns written in a notebook he kept on his desk. He also talked about what God was doing in his life as comfortably as he might discuss what he had done the past weekend or how to play a guitar chord I hadn’t seen before. I had become a Christian at the age of 9 by asking God to forgive my self-centeredness based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and not hold me responsible for my sins. My childhood decision had been sincere, but my high school and early college years were centered around hanging out with friends, girls, cars, girls, and girls.
Over the next couple of months Dave and I became good friends. Although we had a lot of things in common, the ways we were different caused me to start thinking about my life and where it was headed. In many ways, I had become disconnected in my relationship with God. I made decisions based on my own wishes or the advice of friends. These often resulted in poor choices and failures. The harder I tried to find success, the more my actions resulted in unsatisfying results. Dave, on the other hand, seemed confident. He made it clear that his daily relationship with God was the basis for his assurance and direction.
During that semester of college I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about my life. I had known people who talked about God making a difference in daily life, but they were either parents, or older adults. I didn’t relate to these older adults like I did to my peers. There was no excuse, however, for Dave being like he was. He was like me in so many ways and yet God was making a difference in his actions on a daily basis. I could not dismiss his behavior based on age or his position in life.
For several years I had been telling myself that a closer relationship with God could come later after I had “enjoyed” my college years. I began to realize that the “enjoyment” I was finding for myself was short term and really unfulfilling. I lacked direction and purpose, failed to meet the goals I set for myself, and lacked maturity. Comparing my life to Dave’s helped me to see how things could be different.
That semester I began to desire a closer relationship with God. I didn’t change overnight into a different person, but I did make a commitment to look for God’s guidance on a daily basis. I began to pray more regularly, to read the Bible and look for ways to apply it in daily life, and to talk with other people about spiritual things. Life for me since that semester in college has been different. There have still been plenty of problems and challenges, and things often don’t go my way. Through all circumstances, however, there is an inner strength and stability that comes from a personal relationship with a loving God; a God who cared about me so much that He provided a way for me to communicate with Him and to know for certain that I will exist with Him beyond life on this earth for all eternity.