Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Prayer for The Next 25 Years

Today, I turn 25. For some reason, it is a big deal to me. I know that in the grand scheme of themes, I am still a baby, but to me it seems like an end of an era. 25 just seems like a big turning point and big change does seem to be on the horizon of life. It makes me introspective and frankly a little melancholy as I ponder the dreams that went awry and those that never got off the ground. Makes me think of hurts and tears, broken hearts and disappointments.

But then, it also reminds me of the dreams that are coming true right now, some that I would never have conceived of a short time ago. It reminds me of laughter and memories, pictures and friends, adventures and lessons learned. It makes me think of the million little things that make up a person's life... the friends that come and go but leave a lasting impact, vacations and road trips, nights spent studying, impromptu photo sessions in college, grocery shopping, work and conferences, and it makes me smile.

 At times, I yearn for those past moments, if just to catch a glimpse of the person I was then, to remember what it felt like to be me at 12, 16, and 21. To remember those moments in life that molded me into who I am today. But life can't be spent looking back. It can be looking forward, but certainly it must be lived in the present. So today, as I turn 25, I embrace the next 25 years of my life and the great adventures that are sure to come.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Uncomfortable Life For Sure

 Do you ever stop and think that life would be so much easier if you just stopped doing so much and led an “ordinary life?” Here, I am not talking about setting priorities and ceasing to strive. I am talking about those moments when the life you have been called to just seems too much. I will be honest, I sometimes grapple with this very feeling. Sometimes being a woman in Seminary seems like too much work. Sometimes being in charge of new programs seems like too much work. Sometimes being a Christian seems like too much work.

Can I say that last statement? Is it too raw for Christians to say that sometimes our lives just seems like too much work? That the calling on our lives is too much, that the spiritual warfare we face is just too daunting?  That sometimes we just want to be people who go to work and take care of our families. Yes, we want to love Jesus but not in that dangerous, stand out on the end of a cliff type love. We want to be safe. We want things to be just a little bit easier.

I am gone through these moments in my life because I have this very interesting inner struggle. In some ways, I thrive when I am walking in the destiny that God has for me. Yet, sometimes the task in front of me seems so daunting. As a woman, I will always face an uphill battle in the arena of Christian academia. I will always struggle against those who say I don’t belong in Seminary or those who say that I am not able to teach. People will say that my theology is wrong and that I have been deceived if I believe the gifts are still in affect today.

So, then, I begin to back pedal a bit into this more comfortable area. But here too, I am uncomfortable because my heart is aching for something that is missing. My mind spins with the vision that God has given me for my generation. So I have to make a choice. Either way, some aspect of my life will be uncomfortable. Will I choose to be uncomfortable because of the sinful world I operate in or will I choose to be uncomfortable because I am defying God’s plan?

This is a choice that I made some time ago, yet I was reminded of it again this morning and I sat and looked out the window of my office. Many new opportunities are presenting themselves, which would put me exactly where I would need to be for this vision to start to come into being. Yet, I am very much standing on the edge of a cliff. Not many people get my vision, fewer believe in it.

I thought for a second about retreat. I thought about my to do list, my laid down dreams, my tiredness. I thought about ordinariness and a simpler life. I thought about the work ahead and wondered what my future holds. But then I remembered that I would rather be uncomfortable because I am standing in opposition to the world than uncomfortable because I am embracing it.

I may not know the whole plan that God has for my life, but I know enough. No Christian is every meant to be ordinary because we all have a predestined role to play in the kingdom. To be sure, life is a continual balancing act in which we must determine priorities and boundaries, die to ourselves daily, and learn to rely on the strength of the Lord. It is messy and beautiful at the same time, exhausting on one hand and thrilling on the other.

The world is not the way it was meant to be and we are a sinful people who are continually being sanctified. The reality is that we will always be uncomfortable until the Lord calls us home. Today, I choose to be uncomfortable because I embrace my call to stand opposition to the world.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Light Shining in the Darkness

This is a journal entry of sorts that I wrote last semester, but it is still one of my favorite revelations from the Lord.


Some of my favorite times with God are when I am driving from here to there during the craziness of my day. God has so ministered to my heart during these times, often bringing things to my mind that I need to work through or even ideas for projects I am working on at school.

Not long ago, I was driving home and just letting my mind wander as I drove down the dark lanes of the 17 and I thought to myself how beautiful the lights were in the darkness. My mind shifted to memories of Christmas lights and how I was always enraptured by the beauty of a lit up Christmas tree in the dark stillness of a home. My heart just loves the simple beauty of light! My mind then shifted to a passage in the prologue of John that we had just read in my Greek class that week.

It says, “ In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5).

Can I just say that I love my Greek class? It is a ton of work but I am learned so much about the absolute stunning beauty and clarity of the God’s Word. I remember reading this in class and thinking that the battle is already won. We know this from Revelation, but here we see that Jesus is the Light and the darkness could not comprehend it. Another way to say this is that the darkness cannot contain the light. They will always stand in opposition to one another. I remember being blown away by the reality that I have nothing to fear. Jesus is light and the darkness of the world can’t contain Him. Because I have Jesus and the Holy Spirit is in me, I will always stand in opposition to the darkness but it will not be able to comprehend, contain, or even ultimately destroy me.

Then, as I am sitting in the car, thinking about the simplistic beauty of Christmas lights in the darkness, it hit me even more fully. We might not know why we find candlelit dinners or Christmas lights so beautiful, but our hearts do. Deep down, we find something beautiful about lights in darkness. Perhaps without us even knowing, we are drawn to the beauty of God’s work in our lives; that He sent His son into the world to bring redemption to humankind. And that timeless truth of that sacrifice will always shine as a light in the darkness.

Pretty sweet picture, no?
Image from here

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Embracing What Seminary Has Taught Me: Why Theology Has Changed My Life

I haven't been writing very much lately or even in months, but I felt like coming back and sharing some of the things that I have been writing and things that have been happening in my life. Lots of changes in my life and I want blogging to be part of it!

My first semester of Seminary was predictably difficult. I had just moved from out of state, had no car and barely any furniture.  I was taking hermeneutics, the class everyone warns you about because it will make you question everything you thought you knew. I didn’t think it was that bad. Sure, there were things that I didn’t agree with, but I am one of those people that can usually take that in stride. The most difficult part was the people, that after finding out I was in seminary, were suddenly concerned, warning me to not let theology run my relationship with the Lord. As I entered my second semester and began to take more difficult classes, I carried this chip on my shoulder. In a seminary that is fairly-evenly camped in the Reformed tradition, I felt like the lone Charismatic. I had a chip on my shoulder, something to prove, and my guard up again theology.

It is no wonder then that I spent my first theology class mostly angry. I was that annoying person we have all had in classes that argues with the professor for the sake of arguing.  I actually cringe when I think back to the things that I said, hoping to get a rise out of people and prove that I was not going to let theology ruin what I absolutely knew to be true. Once again, it is no wonder that as the semester drew to a close, I was considering walking away. I was profoundly unhappy, frustrated, and annoyed.  Mostly though, looking back, I was insecure.

I decided to take that summer semester off to contemplate my options and contemplate life a little. I met with one of my professors to discuss a paper and that talk really changed the course of my life. I hope to be able to tell him one day how the gentle words of encouragement that he spoke to me during that meeting about my place in the seminary really impacted me. I approached the rest of the summer as a time of rest and rejuvenation. I blogged, read, met new friends, and did all the fun activities I normally don’t have time for. As the summer drew to a close, I attended a conference that sealed a lot of the work that I didn’t even know that the Lord had done in my heart. I remember saying to a friends, “It feels like I have had a heart transplant.”

I went back to school and embraced the dreaded academia. I finally chose to do the Masters of Divinity concentration that I wanted to. I started a prayer group that the Lord had placed on my heart and was named President of the Student Council. For me, Seminary is no longer a place that I go for class three nights a week, but a home and a community. When I find myself upset or unsure, it is my safe place where I want to go and curl around my books full of wisdom about God and His character.

And as for that dreaded theology? Well, sure theology can drive a person away from God, but then again, most things can in the right circumstances. When I embraced the opportunity to learn about God through a study of theology, my world exploded. My heart was stirred by the implications of the kenosis and incarnation. I was humbled by the realities of human depravity. I was astonished by the depth of love shown in the atonement. I was moved to tears more through my study of theology than I would have ever expected.  

So, today, instead of feeling like I have a chip on my shoulder or protecting myself from those ”dangerous” theological ideas, I embrace them. I let God use them to change my life over and over, day after day. And I get where people are coming from when they say that theology can be a stumbling block. The thing is that it is only that way if you let it! The Lord is continually correcting me when I let it go too far, when I start getting prideful or too focused on my studies.

Going to seminary and a systematic study of theology isn’t for everyone because not everyone is gifted or interested in it. For them, it might be a stumbling block or boring or whatever, but not for me. And not for a lot of other people.  Simply put, theology has changed my life and I hope you will allow it to change yours. 

image from the Evangelical Evangelist


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