Sorry for my blogging absence. It turns out that figuring out what to do with your life is time-consuming, and I’ve spent a couple weeks catching up at school and trying to figure out how to finish all my assignments before the semester is through, which is sooner than you’d think. I’ve got the plane ticket home – my mom is visiting me for a few days, and we’re flying back together on Apr. 18th. What I’ll do when I get there is still TBA.
Since deciding on the MDiv, I’ve felt quite peaceful with myself, and much more purposeful in my classes. Actually, more purposeful in everything. I’ve been trying to see lessons in everyday occurrences, things I can learn about myself and my gifts, and about how to be a Christian leader, how to love people more deeply. It’s refreshing to feel the momentum of this decision, even though I’m not sure exactly where I’m going. Realities are starting to sink in… how many more classes I need to take, how much it will cost, how challenging church-related jobs are, the huge responsibility that comes with teaching people about God. Generally, though, I feel like I’m growing into myself, and I love it.
I’ve been thinking about all the different streams of personality that make us who we are. Passions, interests, gifts, experiences, all running alongside each other, coming out in different ways. I like to picture myself on a rubber dingy in one of those lazy rivers at a waterpark, where there is a slow current carrying me along. (I remember my dad losing his keys in one of these lazy rivers when I was young…) There’s also several other little rivers parallel to mine, some with faster currents, some moving at a much slower rate. They intersect in some places, they twist and turn ahead, some slowing down and some picking up speed. I see my decision to do the MDiv as me grabbing my dingy, climbing out of my lazy river, and jumping into a faster stream, getting carried away along it. The slower “biology” stream is still there, still flowing, still part of me - I will always find outlets for that passion. It will still feed into whatever I teach people in ministry, and the time and money I’ve spent studying biology will never go to waste. Who knows? Maybe it will build speed further along the way - maybe in another season of life, that will be my calling. Or maybe God will delight me by joining the two streams together and forming a larger and even faster river. But basically the last month has been about God taking off my river blinders, showing me that there are fast-flowing, rushing parts of who I am that I’ve been ignoring, because my lazy river was a lot safer and less controversial and still a lot of fun. It’s been fascinating to zoom out and see all the flowing streams of who I am, and to discover that I’m much more complicated than I thought, and to remember that no matter what I do, these beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) elements will keep flowing through me, showing up as hobbies and passions and careers and interweaving their way through my life. But right now, I’m feeling this burst of exhilaration at the whitewater rapids that are carrying me along into the MDiv.
I’ve been reading some great books lately… for my Systematic Theology class, we all had to read John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ”. There is a lot about the cross that I’ve never considered in depth, even with 23 years of church, 23 seasons of Lent. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to think more about the cross- it covers a lot of ground, but it’s very readable. It’s got me thinking a lot about sin, which isn’t such a bad thing to think about during Lent. Stott says that until we realize what a big deal sin is, until we stop sauntering presumptuously up to God, we won’t experience the true joy of forgiveness or the depth of love he showed at the cross. Stott also quotes from a book by Harvey Cox called “On Not Leaving It To The Snake”. Cox’s idea is that sin is not so much rooted in pride, in wanting to be God - but instead in apathy. For Eve, this meant letting a snake tell her what to do, an animal over which God had given her dominion. She refused to be truly human; she “went with the flow” and surrendered responsibility for her actions. This is apathy and sloth. I see a lot of it in myself.
I’ve also thought about something I read last year about how we “unpersecuted” Christians in North America experience suffering, how we can still identify with passages about suffering in the Bible, like 1 Peter. We still suffer in the process of sanctification, like every Christian. Becoming holy is a painful process. Actually, sin in our lives is often more the avoidance of pain than the temptation of pleasure. We want to lie to avoid the pain honesty brings. We want to cheat to avoid a bruised reputation. We want to sin sexually to avoid the pain of deep unmet emotional and physical needs. Sometimes what I need to remember is that denying myself and taking up my cross is a defiant (and often painful) action against the apathetic, pain-avoiding ease of sin. It’s better to choose to suffer and let God sanctify me than to take the easy way out and let the snake tell me what to do. I don’t know why, but thinking about sin this way gives me more of a passion to see God destroy it in my life, it gives me an eagerness to suffer in self-denial, to refuse to give in, to experience his sanctifying work.
That's all for now - maybe later I'll tell you the story of my weekend, which I will title "The Worst and the Best Youth Retreat Ever".