About a year and a half ago, I wrote a “funny” post (<– link) about why I was going back to school for my master’s degree at a seminary as an adult mom… yes, there’s been some very funny moments in my life as I’ve studied and stressed while trying to fit schooling into my ordinary life. (I lose my keys almost daily – always a sign of stress in my life.) But there’s also always been a more serious reason I’ve gone back to school.
Today I’m starting to get the syllabi for my final semester. The workload is heavy, but I am determined and ready to commit to finishing well. But also, since it’s the final semester, I want to write down for my own sake the why… why am I going to school? Why am I willing to pay the money and the time? I get asked that question often, “what are you hoping to do with your degree?” I never have a good, succinct answer. I bumble along the lines of something like, “well, I don’t know… I just always wanted to?” Which is true, but I leave off a lot of my answer. Because the answer is so close to my heart, I don’t know that I’ve really shared it with anyone and I’m not sure I could share it without tears streaming down my face. The “official” title of my degree is a Masters of Biblical and Theological Studies.
Basically, I wanted to study God. Because I wanted to know. I wanted to know if it was “worth it.” I wanted to know if it really was, truly oh so very much Him that I want to live for.
It relates to two deaths of people in my life. A few years after we graduated, a friend of mine from college, whom I roomed with and worked with, was shot in the head because of her faith. She was working in a country where Christianity is not allowed. One day, she was shot dead when she opened the door of the clinic she was working at. She gave her life to God as a martyr for the faith. That shook me. Someone I had giggled and goofed around with, talked about boys and complained about our job with…a martyr.
And, as I’ve discussed previously, my dad died of cancer ten years ago. He was one of the most influential persons in my life. He was intelligent and had his doctorate in ministry. His faith sustained him and showed through him right until the final days of his death. As we sat with him and I saw his pulse slowing down, I felt peace with the fact that he was going to see his Savior.
Add those two events with the frustrations and sadness of living in such a fallen world and I wanted to know: This God that both my friend and my dad followed and trusted in until their final days – what am I going to do with that God?
I wanted to study and find out more. Not that I could ever assume to know the answers to all the big questions, but I knew that God has showed us Himself in His Word and I wanted to look more closely at that. This just happened to be the way that seemed would “work” for me. (It’s not the only way… of course.)
Once you put a name on it, I guess it sounds kind of weird, like “I’m studying God – yay!” Or maybe it sounds kinda stuck up, like, I’m so holy! And I do so hope that it never comes across as me saying it in that manner, because trust me, if anyone knows the unholiness in me? It would be me and God. And if you don’t want to study something that points out the sin, you might want to avoid reading the Bible. But if you want to study something that points out the miracle of grace in your life? You might want to read the Bible. Not to be proud, but to be humbled.
The responses I get are usually along the lines of, “uh…why?” or “I’m sure God will use that somehow.” I shiver when I hear that, because I’m not sure that anything I ever do will be anywhere along the lines of useful to God. That seems too huge and egotistical to even assume! However, I do know that He has given me peace and laughter and joy and contentment and self-control. Of course I still struggle with my own sin – but I also know that He sees me as redeemed. I still struggle with my overly dramatic stressful times (only a few oh-so-lucky few have seen those moments…ugh). And I struggle with pride and resentment and perfectionism. Mostly I struggle to beat back a melancholy spirit or not spouting off with my quick temper. But I lean on the One that is sanctifying me and teaching me and living in me.
I want to be able to tell my children with all my heart and soul that living for the Lord is the only thing that matters. I want to say to my kids that believing in God is so important. I want to mean that in a different way than when I say, “oh sure, you’ll totally use algebra when you’re grown up.” Like some quickly spouted off line to get them to move on to the next subject. “Oh sure, you’ll totally use God when you grow up.” I want to talk about God with them and ask the tough questions and be able to say, yes, He is real. He loves you. (Knowing what they do with that is still between them and God.)
I want to tell my friends that the struggles we face here are not important. They are real, oh so real and they affect us every day. But that the peace, hope and joy He can give through those times is inexplicable. And I want to believe that and live showing that belief. I want to tell my friends who feel beaten down by mistakes and who don’t feel loved by God, but rather feel afraid of God and worried that somehow they haven’t done enough for God, that God is love and has redeemed them and given them the power of the Holy Spirit to raise them from death to life – it is that power that lives in them! How can you say you don’t have power when you have been raised from the dead??
I want to say:
And know it is true.