After we moved to Pennsylvania, Nat was still a pretty lazy student and was happy that he didn’t need to work at all his freshman year. His German school education had already taken him quite a bit beyond his classmates who all thought he was brilliant because he knew so much more than they did.
He and Josh had the advantage of having lived in three cultures, speaking three languages, and having traveled through much of the Middle East and Europe. In addition, from an early age they had avidly read the National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Ranger Rick and many other books full of facts which cumulatively gave them a grasp of a wide range of information.
At one point Nat’s history teacher called us in and said, “I have never met a freshman who knew so much about the world and understood its significance. But, could you get him to write more than one-sentence answers on his essay tests?” Nat might know a lot, but he had no real motivation to use it.
However, the Lord had plans to wake Nat up, using running as His primary tool. With Nat’s natural talent being developed under his coach’s good training, he began to win races, and found he liked that. He began to realize that putting effort into reaching goals could be a worthwhile endeavor. He began to study more, do more around the house, and most importantly, began to grow spiritually.
Josh had a spiritual antenna from the time he was small, making a decision to believe when he was small. Nat, however, was interested in other things. But, when he turned sixteen, Nat decided he wanted to be baptized. This decision brought a very deep surrender in him, triggering a lot of spiritual progress. He then started using his status as a successful runner as a means of sharing his faith with others at school.
He later told us that in high school his running fueled his spiritual life, while in college his spiritual life drove his running.
Nat realized he needed to lay down the foundations for his personal faith. He had been riding on ours, but needed his own. During his sophomore year Nat researched and wrote a paper to help him sort out the relationship of the Bible and science. He entitled it, “Why I am not a Monkey.”
Then when he had to present a position paper for English during his senior year, he chose to polish up this paper and gave it a better title. His classmates laughed when he announced his subject, “How I Know That Evolution Is Not True.” But when he presented it, they were fascinated and the student evaluators gave him an A.
His teacher, however, was not so impressed, giving him a lower mark. She asked, “If God created the world, then where did he come from?”
Nat, who normally doesn’t think well on his feet, was helped by the Holy Spirit to reply, “As Stephen Hawkins and his associates pointed out, both the universe and time have a beginning. Since God lives outside of time, He doesn’t need a beginning.”
The teacher, not knowing how to respond to that, turned to the class and said, “OK, next paper!”
After graduation, Josh went back to Germany for one year of scriptual school in German. He enjoyed it so much that he stayed on for the full three years, doing the equivalent of a four year American university. He then went on to get a Masters from an international university.
Josh has a great capacity to grasp spiritual concepts and this was obvious when he returned home after his training. One of us would ask him a spiritual question and he would give us a “twenty-page answer!” He is now one of my major resources when I have to research answers to such questions.
Following his high school graduation, Nat also went to Germany to a different scriptural school, which was taught in English, but stayed only for one year. He then attended Edinburgh University in Western Pennsylvania where he majored in running and art.
During his time there he was able to go to the National Championships in cross country four times and once with the track team, participating at a very high level of competition.
And amazingly enough, he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Not bad for someone who had been such a mediocre student! When we asked him how he accomplished that, he calmly replied, “I just did enough to get an A in every class!”
Picture: Nat in one of his intense college meets