So seminary studies are within full swing. And I feel that I am being showered with blessings and revelations from God in every class, with every interaction and through everyone. For example… I was struggling today with what it means to be a theologian and why I get excited about something I am not sure I what my calling is. and tonight in my systematic theology class we defined theology and what it means. And it was encouraging words to here the discussion of the lecture. I connected old memories with new ones, related my crazy Christian hippy music to a quote the teacher made of Thomas Merton (thank you Psalters) and felt the presence of God living there. I think that is truly the best part about seminary. And actually that was the answers to my prayer in class.
Lately I have been considering why I do theology. I think about this because I want to make sure this is what God is calling me towards: a life studying theology and either teaching it to people through a classroom or through a pulpit. Tonight we talked about how prayer & theology should be interrelated and I really enjoyed how Dr. Ok explained different theologians directing towards always inviting God into our studies because that His glory and promotion of his Kingdom is the ultimate goal. And especially we should pray because we are talking, speaking, dealing with the Lord’s “material” essentially and we should get our stuff straight (sorry–its late, my theological jargon is a little off.)
Another thing I have been trying to answer is why i get upset at my mom sometimes (yes, its related… if I should be acting in Christian love I shouldn’t be yelling & fighting with my mom.) So in praying to God about this concern over the last two nights in class I have heard how in Scripture we are called to live life & “always giving thanks to God” for what we go through, whether it be suffering of joyous. Last night in Greek we talked about this section in the text, tonight in systematic theology we look at the question “Did God cause 9/11?” and even if so (which I do not believe God would cause suffering) we are called as Christians to give thanks for such great mystery of faith & belief. Its scripture based, is encouraged by fellow believers. I think I should be more gracious. And tonight, by no action of my own, I realized I was thanking my mom for raising me in the church which allowed & supported my theological studies and thinking. And I thanked her for be herself, brains and all, for without that my brother and I would not be so… geeky. And I realized I was not only living out what I need to learn more of but also loving my mom as Christ does… which I know my mom needs more of.
Gracious living listening to God. That is my discovery for the day.
Tonight was my first seminary class. And again, I asked myself “Why didn’t I go to this sooner!?!?”
It’s hard to describe how it felt going through classes again. I felt more open to learning, to hearing, and thankful that I had an opportunity to pray and be with people with God in our midst. Yes, that’s right. God was in my Greek class… and rightfully I can see how seminary education is definitely where I was meant to study. It felt like when I was in the 24-7 prayer room– a place I wanted to dwell with God–knowing I would learn and have time with Him–even in the midst of reading his text. I know this is short– but i haven’t had too much time to reflect on this yet.
One of the things I have found very common for those of us going into the ministry is you are constantly called to explain your call. Not that I am against this — if God puts something on your heart you should share it with everyone. I figured I would detail some items here… not necessarily a thoughtful, well-written but more like, well… (see title of blog.)
So I always state that the first time I knew God was really touching me was at my confirmation. Now, I know that’s very cliche, but its true. My goal in life has always been to be honest to yourself. You should never hid things, back up your feelings, or try to be something you’re not. When I was confirmed I took very seriously the desire to hold onto my baptism as a Christian. And it still hasn’t stopped today. However, when the group gathering around me placed their hands on me, I truly felt God touching me. I really didn’t know what for– I just knew He was there… and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
Basically my story steams out from there. I was heavily involved in church and loved every minute of it but was persistent I would not stay in church or in music as a career. When I went to college I was going to take 1 religion class as an elective.. HA! when I took my first class I thought “wow, this stuff is amazing… studying God’s word & why people think what they do and what it means and why it matters.” I tried listening to God and hanging onto everything, even building a 24/7 prayer room I would love to live in still. God, again, pushing me, talking to me, and never forgetting what He had in store.
After college was a huge downfall. I had minimal support, ran around a little crazy trying to find a community, and dated people I probably could have been better friends than ex-boyfirends with. Then I met my current boyfriend. He loves me like God loves me– unconditionally and always true. Now grant it he’s not perfect, but this love is exactly what I need and I can thank my boyfriend for stirring me back to my love: God. I remember when my boyfriend asked what I would really want to do and I talked about going back to school, getting a degree in theology or something and do what God wants me to. I just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere else. Tried working for fun themeparks & in coffee shops & for business companies. But they don’t last long. And I refused to settle for working in a 9-5 job. I wanted the all the time love of my life career to be what I wanted… I just didn’t know what that looked like.
Well, with my boyfriend I began attending church regularly at Messiah Lutheran, joined groups and got active. I slowly began to realize that “normal” faith (if you can call it that) was not me. I was not a typical Christian– which is extremely hard for me to say. I love my family at Messiah. But I remember specifically one Sunday I was talking to God like “I really want to do something like seminary or ministry one day” and God, in his infinite wisdom kinda said “Why not?” and I would come up with 1001 excuses. And of course, in His Love… he kept questioning why I didn’t just follow my heart.
Finally I did. I decided to take that jump. Into something I have no idea where its going but I know right now I couldn’t be more excited and happy to learn all these details. And to study/talk/learn about being a disciple of Christ, a minister of the church. This is AWESOME! And as I begin to “settle” (which really isn’t what i’m doing, more like merging into the great stream of wonderfulness that is ministry) ideas and concepts and study just keeps getting better and better. This is why I can honestly say “God has called me to serve Him in His Church, the ELCA church, and to help lead it on its journey forward.” But I know that God couldn’t have pointed me in this direction without the past–without all the good and bad experiences. Even though a small bit of me wishes I had gone straight into seminary–there are many many blessings I would not have if I had done that. And God has used every bit of my past experiences and wonderings to push me into His grace and love for ministry.
So now you know. And honestly– that’s about all I really know too. As I have begun reading more about theology and people’s concepts of faith, theology and all the other stuff, I realize I know very little in the grand scheme of things. I also realize I have no idea where I’m going. I don’t mean I don’t have a plan. Or that I’m not prepared. I just know God’s leading the way and sometimes– where He is leading me I can’t always see.
So it has begun. I just purchased my laptop for school and downloaded the programs my school suggests for my paper writing. School is really around the corner. Not that I’m trying to get ahead but I also started reading some of my books and my brain is already exploding. But that’s ok, its seminary… its expected. I’m so excited to be learning more theology & growing on the things I learned in undergrad. Huzzah!
Today was a really exciting day! My seminary had what they call a Fall “Advance.” It was basically a beginning of the year meeting for new and current students where we can all get to know one another & our professors. It was truly an amazing experience because it was a jump into the sea of seminary (which relates to about 10 million things that were said today about getting thru waves & the seas and…well… it was just… WOW.) I can barely describe or even get my head somewhat around all the experiences and things I am going to learn. I was excited to hear about all the events and communal gatherings that go on. I am truly going to grow and that is what I have really had a deep desire to do.
But don’t think this won’t come with sacrifice or hardship. I gave myself a headache by attending the session on researching books & articles online. Realized that I have about 2-3 programs I definitely want to download onto my new laptop when I get it and realize that my Saturdays will mostly be trekking up to the Library so I can have some real study time. From what I also understand I definitely will need lots and lots of prayer to protect my heart, soul and mind from spiritual warfare. I know i’ve already met some from the most unexpected place and I haven’t even started school yet.
However, i trust God to lead me and as He says, to never forsake me. I was blessed to hear that this morning and for the reminder that God loves us, and that He is preparing me for this journey that I have not only suppressed for so long but cannot wait to jump into.