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‘God was chipping away at me’ for years, Irvin says

Erskine’s Director of Advancement Mike Irvin told a chapel audience last week that as he and his wife headed toward the reception after their wedding ceremony in 1978, he turned to her and said, “This is probably the last time you’ll ever see me in church.”

Fast-forwarding to August 13, 2017, Irvin said that on that day he celebrated 32 years as a Christian, having given his life to Christ in the same church where he had been married.

“This was important to me because it meant that from that day forward I had been a follower of Christ longer than I hadn’t been.”

What happened to effect such a change in Irvin’s outlook? It was not, he stressed, “a response to an emotional experience,” or “the result of a revival or evangelical crusade,” but was instead “a progression over a period of two to three years that led me to that decision.”

He spent 32 years running from Christ, he said, but he wasn’t running toward something in particular. “I was just not interested in giving up my lifestyle for anything else,” he said. “During those years when people were praying for me, and as I noticed turning points in my life, I have now realized those were times God was chipping away at me.”

Dressed in what he described as his lumberjack outfit—a plaid shirt and jeans—Irvin stood below the pulpit in the Due West ARP Church as he gave his talk. He demonstrated with various pieces of wood the wonder of God’s work in the human heart. Showing his audience a bowl made of river birch, he said that when he started working with the wood, he wasn’t sure what the result would be, but “what was inside [the wood] was this bowl.”

Alluding to his conversion to Christ, Irvin said, “He knew what was on the inside—I just had to be willing to put my life into the Hands of the One who could get to my heart.”

He pointed out for his audience small cuts in the wood of the bowl. “I didn’t originally intend for those to be there. But I hit a little bad spot and the chisel caught the wood and made a scar that I couldn’t sand out. So I just altered the design and incorporated it into the bowl.”

Irvin told students, faculty, and staff members, “We all have scars in our life, places that cause us some degree of sadness or heartache or loss. But God takes those and uses them in His great design for us.”

He concluded with a challenge to his Erskine audience. “Put yourself in His hands. There is something on the inside of everyone that God wants to use for His Kingdom.”


Erskine and Due West Skyline

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