In August, I will reach the official halfway point of my journey through seminary. Of course, this journey has been much longer than two years. Last night, as I sat looking out at the rain, I was overwhelmed with just how much has happened in the two years since seminary began. Lessons have been learned, deadlines have been met, grades have been posted, relationships have been tested, and friendships have been formed; but, nothing has been quite as powerful and transformational as the conversation I have been having with God and with the church.
I am not angry anymore. That sounds simple enough; and yet, it is the foundation of a new sense of what it means to encounter God. For so many years, and for so many reasons, I had been so angry at God. In the rush of the first to years of seminary I had been challenged to examine my faith and to encounter God with deliberate attention and intention. Then, one day, I began to feel a sense of release. I realized that so much of my anger was the result of human expressions of faith and not of God. I started to encounter God through my own eyes, unclouded by the work of other people, and I began to sense the love and the grace that can only be found in the presence of God. In the presence of this Love and Grace my own theological point of view strengthened and I began a process of releasing anger to a power bigger than the pettiness of human brokenness. Don’t get me wrong, I still get frustrated and I still get angry; however, now it is softened by a deeper sense of empathy and a God-given need to engage the issues of this life with grace and with prayer.
In the midst of this transformation, I began my field work at Calvary Presbyterian Church. This is a real immersion into the vibrancy of a congregation that is filled to overflow with a sense of God’s love and a call to God’s hospitality. Much like my home church, they function as a family and they model a humbling dedication to the concept of the Body of Christ. These folks have pulled me away from being just a bit too inwardly focused and have reminded me to look into the world around me and ask, “what can I do?” They love God, they love their church, they love the church, and they show it to every person they encounter…even reluctant minister types…Calvary is a place to finally let my wounds heal, to release what is left of reluctance and fear to the God of Peace. I know that I have been called into their community for the moment and it is a gift I receive with humble gratitude.
I know that this journey has not be easy for my family and friends at times. My time is scarce and my attention is often interrupted. I am juggling the pressures of finances, work load, schedules, and school all of which means that there are times when I am not emotionally or physically available to those whose love I depend on. To them I offer my gratitude and my steadfast love.
There is still much work to do and so much more to learn. I pray only that God will grant me courage and wisdom as this journey continues.