New Baby Born!
Part of my life story continued from last month’s issue…
That day in the shower—April 26th of my 18th year—I didn’t understand anything about what had happened inside me; I just knew something had happened. A tectonic and cosmic shift had occurred deep inside me that would unalterably change my life for all time and eternity. Inside me, something “old” had been deleted and a “new me” had begun to replace the “old me.” Somehow, I was a new Bill Boylan. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t articulate it. But something had begun to radically change everything I had once been.
I won’t bore you with the details about why I was forced to leave my hometown of Rapid City—as I wrote about in last month’s issue of The Traveler. It had to do with my propensity for major theft: being arrested and then given a choice between being sent to the state juvenile prison or enlisting in the military. I was just smart enough at the time to realize that juvenile prison didn’t seem like the best choice of the two. A military recruiting office was a few doors down the street from the apartment where I lived, so I just strolled in there one mild September day after my June high school graduation and enlisted for a four-year tour.
Called, Commissioned, Equipped
I will now tell you how Holy Spirit (who is God/Jesus in his unbodied Spirit form) “called” and “commissioned” me to be a teacher of the Bible and related subjects, and how throughout my lifetime He has equipped me to teach. It was now about mid-May of my 18th year. Again, I had no clue about anything religious. I had simply led a very God-less, self-filled life. I was a modern pagan, a “practical atheist.” That’s just the way it was….
After that first experience in the shower on April 26th of the 18th year of my pilgrimage, I immediately had this strange, inner urging to begin attending church, so the very next Sunday I showed up bright and early at a little neighborhood church I had spotted one day while I was driving around Spokane near Fairchild Air Force Base where I was stationed. I didn’t know what “brand” of church it was or what people did in that building, but I just felt that was where I should be the next Sunday morning.
My First Bible
Meanwhile, I had even purchased a huge Bible (I mean h-u-g-e, approximately 14” x 11” x 4”!) a few days after that first “shower-event.” I just felt inside myself that’s what I should do. I reasoned that if I was going to be a “good” newly born Jesus-believer, I should have the largest Bible I could afford to buy—to let people know how serious I was about beginning my new Jesus-filled life. Remember, previously I had never seen a Bible up close or ever opened one.
I proudly carried my new, huge Bible into that little church that Sunday morning…and everybody stared at me and at my huge Bible very strangely. To this day, I wonder what they were thinking upon seeing this skinny, 112-pound teenager walk into church that morning carrying that huge Bible that weighed almost as much as he did. But they were very gracious, greeted me warmly, and invited me to have coffee with them after the meeting.
After the meeting, the leader—a man they all called “Pastor”—even came up to me and talked with me for quite a while; I figured he was sort of checking out who I was and why I was there with my huge Bible. I was overwhelmed that he singled me out of the crowd and chose to visit with me: I didn’t know whether to bow or kiss his ring or call him “Sir,” “your holiness,” “your majesty”…whatever.
By the way, I gave away that huge Bible a few weeks later to a large family in the church (I figured they needed a large family Bible since they were a large family), and bought another Bible that was more portable and easier to carry around…. Those were the first few days of the beginning of my new Jesus-believer life after I had been born again in that shower on April 26th of the 18th year of my mortal journey.
That Old Country Church
A few weeks after I began attending that church in Spokane, the Pastor approached me one Sunday morning after the meeting and said he wanted to ask me something. He explained that there was a small country church of their denomination just a few miles outside of town that had just lost their part-time Pastor. He asked me if I would consider going there for a few Sundays (until they hired another Pastor) and teach their adult Sunday School class with about a dozen adults in regular attendance. I gulped and replied “Sure, I’ll be glad to,” even though I was shaking and almost ready to faint because I was so scared and weak in the knees.
The “Number One Greatest Fear” of all adults worldwide is the fear of public speaking! I was no exception… I was scared to death, but I respected my new Pastor and figured he wouldn’t have asked me if he didn’t think I could do it.
My Very First Teaching!
I stayed up late every night in my barracks for the next week, poring through the pages of my huge Bible and putting together extensive notes for what I would teach, not really having a clue about what I was doing. I even thought I had over-prepared, with enough notes for about 3 hours worth of teaching just so I couldn’t possibly run out of material. I practiced my teaching for hours standing in front of a full-length mirror in the barracks. Needless to say, the other barracks personnel thought I had gone completely insane. I arrived at that little country church the next Sunday, was warmly greeted by the people there, and launched into my “lesson.”
I had even purchased a new suit—my first ever—for the occasion; it was light grey with dark blue specks in it—kind of a “zoot suit” with wide lapels and tapered legs; I wouldn’t be caught dead in it today. Hey, I wanted to do this new “Jesus-believer thing” right—with a new suit and my huge new Bible. No one except God will ever know how nervous and frightened I was that Sunday morning, with just the raw fear of speaking in front of people for the first time in my life.
Well, I went through all my 3-hours’ worth of teaching notes in about 15 minutes and there I stood with nothing more to teach. I gulped and asked the people if they had anything they wanted to share about what God was doing in their lives. They responded well, and before we knew it the Sunday School hour was over, and we were having coffee. Most of the adults in attendance even patted me on the back and congratulated this skinny, 112-pound young man with the weird, new suit and huge new Bible for teaching such a great lesson. As the saying goes, the rest is history…
I Knew In My Knower
I knew that I knew in my “knower” from that very Sunday morning many years ago that God was “calling” me to be a teacher. To “confirm” that call, two weeks later a very strange thing happened to me. Once again, I was standing in the shower in my barracks. Everything around me sort of faded into the background; it became hushed and still.
From out of nowhere, yet from out of everywhere, I heard a real, audible voice saying these exact words to me: “Bill, I have called you and will equip you to be a teacher of the Bible and related subjects in and to the worldwide Body of Jesus, without any exclusiveness!”
Can you imagine what was going through my mind just then? First of all, I had heard an actual voice right out of thin air; that alone just about did me in, but I knew in my “knower” it was God’s voice. Second, to hear those exact words (which are forever emblazoned indelibly on my mind!) just about fried my brain cells. What in the world was that all about? I could scarcely believe the words, much less understand all that they meant. I had no clue about what was going on in my life.
And then I had this weird thought: “What is it about me and God and showers!? Does He speak to everyone this way?” In the years since, God has “spoken” to me many times while I have been showering (never again in an audible voice, however). Maybe He “speaks” to me in the shower because I’m “open and exposed” to “hear” from Him while I’m in the shower. Not a pretty picture. Whatever…
God’s Lifelong Project
Anyhow, from that very day forward God has involved me in a lifelong “project” to equip me to be a teacher. I was very humbled and privileged to have been able to attend the world’s premiere (and very difficult and arduous) Bible School right after my 4-year military enlistment ended, to graduate from college a few years later (the first in my family to graduate in generations), and, later, to earn two difficult master’s degrees from a leading Christian university. I’ve even been awarded an honorary PhD degree. I don’t really count that one, however, because it’s not an “earned” academic degree like my others; not many people even know it was awarded to me; please don’t start calling me Doctor Bill, okay?
And, I’ve been able to earn many other hours of graduate credit in various subjects in addition to my master’s degrees. Yes, in respect to just sheer formal academic education, God has been very gracious to me. I’m very grateful for all my secular and Christian education, BUT I’m even more deeply grateful that God has allowed me through the years to read and study my Bible all the way through many, many times.
I don’t tell many people this (because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but now my secret is out): I’ve been deeply privileged to have read and studied the Bible completely through over a hundred times during my odyssey through time and space. And I intend to continue reading and studying it as many more times as I’m able during the remaining years of my mortal sojourn. I am just stating a simple fact; I’m not trying to impress anyone. Why am I telling you this? A person cannot be a teacher of the Bible and related subjects without knowing their Bible! Period!
Many years have passed since those two shower events in April and May of my 18th year. I could not possibly begin to tell you about all the miracles in my life, the places around the world God has led me, the God-encounters I’ve had, the marvelous opportunities to teach the Bible and related subjects, as God promised me I would do.
To learn the reminder of my life story, you’ll need to read my complete autobiography that was published recently. It’s entitled “Him ‘n me,” and can be purchased from amazon.com. I wonder who’ll play my role when they make the blockbuster movie about my life???
“God’s gifts are many and varied. He has given to the [worldwide] church some apostles, some evangelists, some prophets, some pastors, and some teachers.” –Paul, Ephesians 4: 11
To Think About This Month:
Credo for all teachers of the Bible and related subjects:
“Let me teaching fall like gentle rain, my words be like nurturing morning dew. Let it be like spring showers on a garden, like abundant rain on new grass. For it’s God I’m teaching about. Praise the greatness of God, our Firm Foundation. His works are perfect, and the way he works is fair and just; He’s a God you can depend upon—no exceptions, a trustworthy God.” —Deuteronomy 32: 2 – 4, paraphrased
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Revised and updated December