It was 10am and I was in my first week of classes at Cedarville. Dr. Hoffeditz was lecturing on The Elements of Greek. He quoted what has been attributed to Isaac Newton “ If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
What was my professor trying to tell me?
These scholars who have drawn near to God and used their gifts to explain Greek and it’s biblical implications have made it possible for me to pick up my Greek Language learning book and soar through in a couple of semesters. Every semester I had to remind myself of the hard work and dedication and faith in God of so many before me in order to pick up my books and study again. And every tiring moment was worth it. God gave me faith to finish my studies, and He continues to give me the courage to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ my Savior, through what I’ve learned.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Through my failures I have learned a great lesson about how to please God (reflected in the above verse): have faith, copy those who show courage and faith, and believe the One in whom you place your faith.
Physically speaking, I stand 6’7. That genetic trait can be traced back in my family line. Spiritually speaking, I stand on the shoulders of my 71 year old pastor, mentor, friend, and father figure, Dan Richner. My spiritual growth and life can be attributed to what this man told me about Jesus when I was 18 years old.“Coach” and I met on the basketball court. I didn’t know this until much later, but it was by faith that he was standing before me. God called him in his mid thirties to pick up his whole life, change direction, and go to Brazil to share about Jesus Christ. That faith he exhibited became an inspiration for me to believe in this “Jesus” down the road. He helped me improve my shot, taught me hard work, modeled dedication, and made me realize I was merely a teammate. As time went on, he talked to me about my attitude, my short comings, my sin and my need for Jesus as my savior. 3 years had gone by and we were going out regularly to have a Coke, and I was beginning the climb upon his shoulders, by faith. He taught me from God’s word what he had been struggling to understand for 50 years at that point. He was credible, he was the real deal, he had peace and a purpose. I wanted what he had. I wanted that unflinching faith that he claimed to be the reason for pressing forward through life’s inevitable pitfalls. He showed me how to have faith in Jesus, and the journey began. It’s been almost 20 years now and Coach has become much more than my basketball Coach. On his shoulders, he mentored me through a year of English language learning, four years of undergrad, and five years for my M.Div. He was there the day I married my wife and he was in the hospital holding my daughter shortly after she was born into this world. He’s seen me in my best moments and most defeating, and he has stood firm in his faith, providing and unwavering example of Godly character. Simply put, he has given me a firm set of shoulders to stand on. I cannot take the credit for where I am today, you see, for I have merely stood on the shoulders of a giant. My ministry in Brazil is a branch off of what he began. Even supporting churches that have partnered with us give thanks that he has gone before me.
The peace I claim and the promise I hold on to is not because Dan Richner is perfect. In fact, it has been through his imperfection yet humble seeking of a perfect Savior that I am continually strengthened in my walk with the Lord. When I look to Dan, he points me to Christ. I will forever be thankful for Dan Richner for answering God’s call to share Jesus and plant churches in my hometown. Most importantly, I am thankful for Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of my faith, the Creator of the Universe, and my faithful Friend. He is the true Giant who walked among us to give each of us a set of shoulders to stand on and see further than we can on our own.
Who is a giant that has allowed you to stand on their shoulders? Leave a comment!