My sermon this past Sunday was the second in a series of seven from the book of Proverbs. I was preaching from the first chapter of Proverbs, where the parent is giving some instructions in wisdom to the child who is about to leave home. Here’s how I set up and told a story from my college days in that sermon:
“According to the book of Proverbs, every step in life is a choice, and each choice has a consequence. And the parent understands that it is in a very real sense a choice between life and death.
When I went away to college, I attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. They had a great forestry department, and since I was planning to spend my life in the woods, that’s where I went. And I chose to live in the dorm closest to the forestry building. It was Dorm 14. (Quite an original name, don’t you think?)
It didn’t take long to discover that my dorm actually did have a pretty original name. It wasn’t called Dorm 14 on campus. No, it was called The Zoo. It had been given that name by a magazine that had listed it among the top ten wildest dorms on any college campus at the time.
So there I was, having been sent out from my parents’ home to Dorm 14—to the Zoo, and the first Saturday night came and I was hunkered down in my room and I could hear the chaos outside. My room was near the middle of the hall, and when I opened the door, a clear choice opened before me. I could hear the decadence raging from one direction, and relative quiet in the other, and there were voices calling to me from both directions.
Which way would I go? I was standing there—a critical choice to be made—and it was in every way a choice with consequences.”
Ever since the service ended, people have been asking me: “You never told us what happened! Which way did you go?” Some thought the answer was hidden in one of the verses of the hymn which followed. Others had a guess about which way I went, but they wanted certainty. Still others (on both sides) hoped I had chosen what they would have done.
Now for the rest of the story…As I mentioned, there were voices calling to me from both directions. One voice calling from the right end of the hallway (which was the quiet end) was Scott’s, someone I had never met even though he was the star basketball player in my graduating class in high school. I recognized him, of course, along with his brother Steve who was now his college roommate.
I accepted his invitation to join them for dinner out that evening, and the two of them soon became great friends to me, and they helped me to “hold fast to the right,” at least most of the time. We did, of course, have our fair share of college adventure…but those are stories for another day.