Crisis of the Will
I got my grades back for last semester and I received a 3.6. GPA, two A’s and one B. I now have eight classes remaining. After the winter semester, I will be down to five. If I can take at least one class in the spring/summer semester, there is a strong possibility that I will have my B.A. degree in Christian Thought by Christmas 2004. This has become a startling reality to me. My wife and I have put off some things until I finished school. We would like to have children, but we would like to relocate first. This is for a few reasons, but we would like to be near her family more. My wife misses her family greatly and we would really love to leave Detroit. Detroit has its pros and cons, but for a southern boy like myself, the temperature of –5 last night and those –20 wind chills are a little much. Ohio, although not that much warmer, is looking good right now.
But I’m stuck in an interesting situation. I had one of those “aha” moments a few weeks ago. I began school in 1995 at Tyndale. After financial hardships, and a year out of God’s will, I returned to Tyndale in 1998 to complete my degree. Through those long 6 years, God has changed me. Maybe more appropriately, God has rearranged me. I have a hunger for the truth of God’s Word. I want to study it, break it apart, look at it from all angles. The Bible is the Christian’s “all emcompassing rule of faith and practice.” It is the primary revelation that God has given to us in order to discover more about who He is. I’m passionate about the Word and I become angry when I hear of Christians mistreating, misinterpreting, or misusing the Word of God. I have been told that because of my love for the Word and my spiritual gift of teaching that I am a natural candidate for seminary. I must admit, right now, this makes me squirm. I am very tired of people trying to “pigeon-hole” me into becoming a pastor. The bottom line is, I’ve never really felt called to be a pastor. I have always felt called to minister. I have always believed that to tell God that the only way he could use me was through the pastorate was putting limits on God and what he could do with my life. So, I just said, “Ok, God, here I am. Do what you want.” This doesn’t limit me to the pastorate. I’m not even sure that I could do the job of pastor because of my personality. Although I have decent people skills, I can still come across rather heavy-handed. It is never my intention to be that way unless the situation calls for it. It’s just that my passion sometimes gets in the way of my tact. My gifts, skills, and talents seem to lie more in the academic realm. But I have also been challenged lately to make my faith more practical. To talk of Calvinism, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, santification, glorification, justification, and all those other “ations” and “isms” just goes over most people’s head. I’ve been challenged by people like Rick Warren to teach theology without using theological words. In other words, don’t talk over your audience.
I have also realized that one of the main reasons that I was considering seminary is that I simply did not know what else to do when I got my degree. As I prayed and thought about it more, I realized that this really showed to me a lack of dependence upon God. Am I scared that I might not be able to accomplish what He may be calling me to do after school? As a good friend once asked me, “Are you making this decision out of fear or faith?” Another startling reality that I have faced is that my degree that I will get in a year or so, although very helpful in some regards, has really done little more than justify me in front of people. In other words, someone may ask, “Well, what does Dave know about this?” “Oh, he has a B.A. degree in Christian Thought.” Should it really matter? Most of the theology I have learned and the spiritual growth that I have had has not been through my academic school, but rather the school of hard knocks. Frankly, I have met many more people with absolutely no degree that have a better handle on academic theology than I do. With that thought in mind, would seminary be the right place for me? I am not saying that I would not benefit from seminary. I am saying that I do not want to tell God what I want to do with my life rather than let Him lead me where He wants me to go.
Although I do love school, I am very tired of it right now. I know that if I decide on seminary, I will have to take a break before I start. I’m ready to take a little time and enjoy my wife more. But when the time comes, I want my choice of seminary to be of and from God. It’s a tough decision. A part of my will wants to move forward and go to seminary and take the world by storm. The other part of my will says, “Hang on. God will put you where he wants you.” I call it a crisis of the will, but I have thought of it as really much more than that. Then again, maybe it’s just growing pains.