After thumbing through the pages of my Religious Studies books, I now realize that my goal for this term (getting straight A’s, but really it’s for the rest of my undergrad days) is set really, really, really high. This stuff is dense. Normally it takes me roughly 30-40 minutes to read 20-30 pages, but tonight it took me an hour to read 18 pages of an introduction chapter. If that’s just the tip of the iceberg, I’m in for one challenging term.
Honestly, though, that’s what’s exciting about this term; the subject material is exciting in and of itself, but knowing that if I don’t take it seriously my ass is going to be kicked gives it a bit of a thrill. There’s some risk involved with this term. My journalism classes last term weren’t as exciting merely because I didn’t expect them to be very difficult. They ended up being a little more difficult than anticipated, but not in the mind-stretching, intellect-exhausting sense. They were challenging in a get-projects-done sense, which was something new for me and on some level, made them more enjoyable (albeit more frustrating at times).
When Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your…mind,” I think He meant something along these lines. I think He meant for His children to explore with their minds as while as their hearts, souls, and bodies the vastness that is Him and His creation. No, this doesn’t mean everybody has to take religious studies classes from liberal universities, but it does mean that when faced with an intellectual difficulty, though their may be risks involved, we ought to take it on.
What are my risks? Well, one that I know of is the risk of ruining my GPA entirely; Professor Falk is a difficult professor. He’s a great guy, loves the Lord, a great instructor, but he demands our best effort and then some academically. There cannot be any scrambling to write a paper the night before it’s due with him; he knows B.S. when he sees it and grades accordingly. My English major skills will definitely be put to the test in the two classes I’m taking from him.
Another potential risk is a possible challenge to my faith. I have no idea what that challenge would look like or where it might come from (they usually come from a mixture of things), but I know that I’m getting myself into a class that strives for spiritual and religious neutrality as best as possible; any attacks on the Christian faith are incidental. And yet, I feel as though I won’t have to defend what I believe against someone else; I think I’m going to have to defend what I believe against myself.
In the moments of extreme doubt that I’ve gone through, it wasn’t any well-spoken argument or sermon that had pulled me through; it was how I processed a mixture of things. I once doubted the legitimacy of the New Testament Scriptures and what they say about Jesus. But in a moment of self-argumentation, I concluded with that although there may be flaws and inconsistencies within Scripture, God still used them to speak to me. Perhaps this doubt will reappear in this class; but then again I’ve dived deeper into Christ and He deeper into me since the last time I felt this way. Things have changed; my faith is centered on Christ, the foundation of our faith (1 Cor. 3:11), and at this point, it’s difficult to see anything erasing the God that I’ve known and loved throughout the last few years.
But it could happen.
And that’s what’s making me somewhat leery and somewhat sure; somewhat uncertain and somewhat confident about what I’m getting into. This term will exhaust me in many ways and that’s just the beauty of it; I’ll grow stronger for it. My faith, knowledge, and overall academic skills will be sharpened through these courses. And even if I don’t get the grades I desire, having a stronger faith and knowledge about the God I love will be worth more than any number of straight A’s. At the end of the day, it’s how you’re walking with the Lord that matters most, not what GPA you have.
Prayer will be most essential throughout this term. The only way I see my faith in God disintegrating is if I stop talking to Him. If I treat Him like He’s not actually there, well then there isn’t much left for secular reasoning to do but give me words to justify my potential lack of faith. But if I listen and talk to Him, secular reasoning won’t be able to get a foothold.
What then is this term if I’m likely to wind up with the same faith I had before entering it? It is a stage in my life where my mind will be stretched, overworked, and exhausted to build endurance. And therefore, it will no longer be the same faith I had before beginning this term; it’ll be a hardened center, an unbreakable core, an unshakeable foundation in Jesus Christ.
I honestly cannot wait to get started.