We picture an encouraging person as a feel good huggie person, and they often are. Sometimes, in addition to offering encouraging words, they offer words of wisdom. They offer direction that pushes us, much like a mother bird pushing her babies out of the nest. I think that’s a good analogy for my relationship with Dr. L. Dale Potratz, my Bible teacher from Christ Unlimited Bible Institute.
He certainly taught me the Word of God. He taught me about each book and what it meant. He taught me about the main doctrines in the Bible, about Bible Geography and how to study the Bible and learn from it. More than that though, he taught me how to live my life. He didn’t just tell you what to do. He shared stories and word pictures about how to do what he was talking about.
I remember a story from when he was talking about learning to accept things that happen as God’s Will for our lives. He was in San Francisco and was trying to catch the cable car to get to an important appointment. He missed the cable car and was very upset with himself. He caught the next cable car and realized a couple of stops ahead, how glad he was that God stopped him from getting on the first car. There has been a terrible accident and almost everyone on that cable car was dead or seriously injured. it made him realize that we don’t always see God’s prospective. We don’t see everything that God can see.
It’s been 35 years since I sat under his teaching, and I still remember that story. He was such a good storyteller that you felt like you were right there with him. His stories gave me encouragement. He wasn’t just my teacher. I considered him a friend and a mentor. I would call him or go to see him. He was always encouraging to me. He understood that my self-esteem wasn’t good, and he really did try to encourage me and tell me that my worth was in Christ. He knew that I was more capable than I thought I was. His words have helped me to reach for things that I knew I was supposed to, but that I was scared to reach for.
I’m not the only person that he touched. He taught hundreds and thousands of people, both as a professor and as a pastor. Only when we get to heaven will we understand the true reach of his ministry.
Thank you Dr. Potratz for teaching, encouraging, inspiring and pushing me and all those that you touched over the years.