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Knee deep in garbage, Akin had life-changing exchange with God

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–He is now the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. But nearly 20 years ago, Danny Akin found himself working in a trash dumpster — literally.

Having resigned from a church position nearly a year before, he had received no response from the many resumes he had sent out to find another job. He had not even been asked to “say a silent prayer at a dog’s funeral,” Akin said in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Akin took a job for $5.50 an hour to support his wife and three children. Then, on one hot summer’s day in Texas, his boss asked him to move garbage from one large dumpster to another. As the day wore on and the sun bore down, Akin said he “got ticked at God.”

“Lord, I know You are the Sovereign of the universe. But I don’t think You have a clue about what You’re doing today,” Akin recounted. “Don’t You know who I am? I have a bachelor’s degree from Criswell College. … I’ve been to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and I have a Master of Divinity. I have mastered the divine! I’m working on a Ph.D. in humanities. And you have me up here in the blazing sun moving garbage from one dumpster into another. This doesn’t seem the best use of my gifts and talents.”

Akin said he then heard a quiet question from God in his heart: “What if it is My will for you to be in this dumpster?”

He did not answer that question right away, because he was in no mood to answer. But as he pondered the question in his heart, he was able eventually to respond, “Although I don’t understand it, if this is Your will for my life, I’d rather be here than anywhere else.”

Akin, who assumed the presidency of Southeastern in Wake Forest, N.C., earlier this year, said God used his surrender to the lordship of Christ to change his life. Ten years after that day, he was standing before 10,000 people in the Georgia Dome to address the Southern Baptist Convention, Akin told the chapel audience at Southwestern’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus Oct. 7.

Now, 20 years later, he has the “wonderful joy to be the president of one of our Baptist seminaries” and to “stand here today and preach at Southwestern Seminary before my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Akin said his experience partly illustrates what the Apostle Paul described as living under the lordship of Christ in Romans 12:1-2. He said that Paul wrote that the will of God would always be “good, acceptable and perfect.” Paul did not write that Christians would always understand the will of God, Akin said.

Akin underscored Paul’s teaching in Romans that God calls Christians to “consecration and complete commitment” to Himself because of all He has done for believers in Christ.

Cassie Bernal, a teenager killed in the shootings at Columbine High School, was an example of someone with this kind of complete commitment, Akin said. Shortly before she was killed, she wrote, “Now I’ve given up on everything else. I have found it to be the only way to really know Christ, to know the mighty power that brought him back to life again, and to find out what it really means to suffer and die with him. I will die for my God. I will die for my faith. It is the least I can do for the Christ who died for me.”

Akin emphasized Paul’s concern that Christians not be “conformed” to this world. He said the Greek word for “conform” is to be molded or shaped by outside forces. Akin decried what he termed “sick, weak and anemic churches,” churches the world doesn’t oppose because they are just like the world.

Instead, Akin said, Christians are to be “transformed,” the Greek word for which is “metamorphosis,” to be changed “from the inside out.”

Paul taught that the method of this transformation, Akin said, was the “‘renewal of your minds.’ Your greatest battle as a child of God will not be fought out there in the world. Your greatest battle as a child of God will be fought between your ears: in your mind. You win the battle for the mind, you win the battle for the Christian life. But you lose the battle for the mind, and you’ll lose everything.”

Akin said this renewal comes by being “saturated” and “immersed” in the Word of God, and so saturated that Christians “begin to think God’s thoughts” and “are not able to think in any other category” than those provided by the Word of God.

This renewal of the mind in Christ leads to “surrender to the lordship of Christ” and to the contentment, satisfaction and peace of being in the will of God, Akin said.

“Even if we find ourselves in the dumpster, knee deep in garbage, there’s no place better on earth than being in the will of God and surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ,” Akin said.

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  • Marc Rogers