The Real Reward of Persistence…

During dinner the other night I decided to watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother. I’ve been cycling back through very slowly for the past year or so. If you haven’t yet watched through season 6, avert your eyes from this blog post until you do… unless you don’t mind spoilers, in which case, please keep reading.

It was a couple episodes after Marshall’s father passed away and Marshall was going through some serious self-reflections. He realized that his job wasn’t meaningful and he was upset that his dad never got to see “how he had turned out,” as Marshall put it. Marshall had wanted to become an environmental lawyer – something that had always made his father proud. But when his father passed away, he was just another corporate lawyer doing meaningless work for a decent amount of money. Marshall wasn’t okay with that.

While watching this episode, it sort of hit me: my grandpa has only seen me as the college or grad student, occasionally working a part-time job here and there to make ends meet. My grandpa will never get to see me realize the ambition of becoming a professor – something that I already know is a long shot in the field of biblical studies, but something I want nonetheless. After all, part of the decision to go to seminary in the effort of becoming a professor was to make my grandpa proud.

I think I felt quite like Marshall over this past summer. In between the end of summer semester and the beginning of fall, I started questioning the purpose of continuing on with more school, debt, and stress, especially if he wasn’t going to be there to see me achieve something. It felt like a waste of time to keep trying for something that has a slim chance of success anyhow, especially if my grandpa wouldn’t get to see it if I succeeded anyway.

Yet as the fall semester enters its third week, I’m beginning to realize that the real reason I had felt this way wasn’t because of my grandpa passing away; it was because of that little voice that tells me I have to earn acceptance, love, and value – things that my grandpa freely gave to me, even when he didn’t agree with the route I had chosen. Him not being able to see any future accomplishments is a huge bummer. But that doesn’t mean that he (or anybody else, really) had to be around to see it happen for it to have meaning. It doesn’t mean that the pursuit itself is worthless. And if I’m honest with myself, he wouldn’t want me to give up now, anyway (he didn’t want us to give up in anything we started, really).

Yesterday was spent doing nothing but Greek and Phoenician homework. While I was testing myself with the new vocab and memorizing all the consonants, I started to feel the sense of fulfillment I had in my first year. It wasn’t as intense, sure, but it was there. And I highly doubt that I’ll feel it every time I sit down to do homework, but to get a dose of it this early in the semester is a great feeling. At this point, all I can really do is keep going at it; keep checking off assignments one page at a time.

When it comes to achievements of really any kind, I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone. It’s there already. What I do have to do is prove that there are certain values my grandpa raised me with that I don’t want to let go of: doing all that I do to the best of my abilities, especially the things I enjoy. One of my favorite Proverbs carries a similar tone; “Do you see the one skillful in their work? They will stand before rulers; they will not stand before obscure ones.”[1]

My point here is not to work as hard and as well as you can in order to be rewarded, but to do so because the work itself is the reward. The things we take joy in, the things that require our time and energy – those are the things that shape us, in addition to hardships, losses of loved ones, and pain. To give up in any regard, to quit before you’re really tested, that is to cheat yourself out of an opportunity like no other to be developed in a certain way – a way that God may want you to be developed.

For Marshall, as I already know what happens, this means leaving his corporate job, but in order to do what he’s most passionate about: environmental law. For me, it means keep going with what I’m doing because, as I’m rapidly discovering again, this is what I’m most passionate about doing – even if I never become a biblical studies professor.

To make one more analogy, my favorite musicians aren’t the ones with the catchiest lyrics or the biggest fan bases; they’re the ones who lose themselves in their music – who cast aside all worry and just have fun with what they do. I can bet it’s hard work, sure. But I can also bet that it’s worth every bit of it.

The real reward of a joyful, ambitious persistence isn’t money, fame, or anything material.

It’s who you become in the process.

God bless.

[1] Prov. 22:29: Actual, literal translation of the Hebrew reads with the masculine pronoun, but the meaning is gender-neutral.

Embracing Mystery…

Having been in seminary for a little more than two months, I keep coming up against one realization: I don’t know very much. Compared to the average church congregant, I might know more about church history or theology or even about Scripture. But that doesn’t mean that what I think I know can’t be refuted or debated. It doesn’t mean I have all the answers – regardless of how I might feel from time to time.

After every new book I read, I’m led to two or three more books I feel I need to read in order to address the questions that came to mind in that first book. It’s like as soon as I think I’ve figured something out about God, someone asks a question or points something out that wrecks my previous view and I have to start over again. After a while, it becomes rather exhausting.

Although, there’s a difference between my studies now and my studies when I first became a believer. Not sure if it was the culture, the church, or just some belief I developed in my own head, but I had this idea that I had to find all the answers and be able to answer anyone who may question my beliefs. I felt I needed to be well versed in theological self-defense, giving a verbal round-house kick to every question that tried to shake my faith. Heretics near and far would fear my apologetics.

As ridiculous as this sounds, this was my approach. I came to Scripture not looking to be fed something that improved the way I treated my neighbor, but to find a verse proving my point in every argument. The problem with this mentality is that it treats Scripture like an answer book and God as though He could be caged in to our little theology boxes. And once we’re able to quantify and document Him, we’ll place Him on a shelf like a paperback novel that intrigued us for a moment, but that we eventually figured out.

What this leaves out is any capacity for mystery. We don’t allow ourselves to wonder, to allow a question to sit and season awhile. And we don’t allow ourselves to doubt.

“Such doubt is not the enemy of faith but an essential element within it. For faith in God does not bring the false peace of answered questions and resolved paradoxes. Rather, it can be seen as a process of ‘unceasing interrogation.’… The spirit enters into our lives and puts disturbing questions. Without such creative doubt, religion becomes hard and cruel, degenerating into the spurious security which breeds intolerance and persecution. Without doubt, there is loss of inner reality and of inspirational power to religious language. The whole spiritual life must suffer from, and be seriously harmed by, the repression of doubt. – Kenneth Leech, as quoted in M. Robert Mulholland Jr.’s Invitation to a Journey, pg. 148 (Emphasis mine)

Frantically searching the Scriptures for the answer to that disturbing question could mean we are running from, as Leech puts it, “a process of ‘unceasing interrogation’” – a process we may very well need to undergo. What does this process look like, though?

I think it varies from person to person, but I know that it isn’t intellectual laziness. Allowing room for mystery isn’t the same as thinking to oneself, “Well, I asked the question, but I didn’t get an answer, so I suppose it will forever remain a mystery.” Instead it is the unending search – even if no answer is found.

God wants us to develop the capacity for mystery and wonder; not to develop a perfect systematic theology that refutes all the “liberal” questions attempting to undermine our faith. “And if there is no room for mystery there is no room for God, because God is the ultimate mystery,” (Mulholland, 149, emphasis mine).

A capacity for mystery is more about resolve than anything else; never ending in one’s search for whatever God has covered up. “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out,” Proverbs 25:2.

Embrace mystery and make room for God. Paradoxically, you might find your faith being strengthened.

God bless.

Abandoning Naïveté…

It would be an understatement to say that I’ve learned a lot in the first six weeks of seminary. Truth is, there’s no telling how much I’ve actually learned; only how many pages I’ve read and how many hours I’ve spent doing homework and studying (a lot). What I can’t help but notice is that none of what I’m learning is shaking up my faith in any way. If anything, what I’m learning in school now is only telling me that I’ve found an academic home.

I say nothing is shaking up my faith because typically in seminary people learn things that they were never taught in Sunday school. Such heavy amounts of unfamiliar information can be overwhelming and so one’s faith suddenly becomes in jeopardy (because if a few truths you learned and believed since you were ten were suddenly altered in a few minutes when you’re 25, then you might start questioning a lot of other things).

Not to say that I’m learning a bunch of heretical things or that I was misled by my Sunday school teacher, because 1. My Sunday school teacher taught me more about God than any professor I’ve ever had and 2. Every bit of what I’ve learned so far has enhanced my walk with Him.

What I am pointing out, though, is that there is a bit of an education shock for a lot of seminarians because we’re drawing information from a source much bigger than most – if not all – commentaries and from people who’ve studied the Bible more than most pastors, but yet may not share the same level of faith. So we’re getting much different interpretations on how the Bible was created or if there really was an Exodus – stuff that would make the average congregant shift awkwardly in their pew. Why am I not having an issue with all of this? And what does it really matter?

It matters much more than one may realize, but I’ll get to that in a bit. As for why I’m not having much of an issue at all is because I did something that not too many do before coming to seminary. During my undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon, I took four Religious Studies classes regarding the Bible or ancient Judaism. I loved every minute of those classes – even the ones that met at eight in the morning. What I didn’t notice at the time, though, is that I was being ushered across a metaphorical bridge – a bridge that I can no longer go back over.

“Seminarians are called to a higher standard and greater understanding. You have burned the bridges of naïveté, and there is no more turning back.” – Dr. David Scholer

This quote was shared with me and 20-some others during our first night of classes at GFES. It acts both as an invitation and as a warning – that there is a deep sense of purpose embedded within studying in seminary and there is also no going back to the way things were before. Despite my journey away from naïveté beginning in college, I know things will not be as simple and fluffy as they were before.

I use the word “fluffy” because that’s how an old pastor of mine describes much of Christianity today: fluffy. We take the figure of Jesus Christ and package Him into our little, neat theology boxes and teach Him to others as we have Him displayed – leaving out all the arm-twisting and leg-bending we had to do to get Him to fit our boxes. We find ways to pack action figures into Matchbox cars and pretend everything’s normal.

Seminary is a place where all those Matchbox cars and action figures of Jesus get taken apart, evaluated, and pieced together in completely different ways than they were before. What everyone quickly begins to realize is that He is neither a Matchbox car nor an action figure, but instead something much, much bigger and much more mysterious. He is something that we cannot fit into any clever little package we create.

Abandoning naiveté is simply encountering God as He is – not as what our theologies say He is. This process is a long and terribly uncomfortable one because it compels us to confront our assumptions about God and His Son Jesus, which includes the things we learned when we were little. Yet this isn’t to say that everything we learned when we were little is a lie; it’s to say we’re called to test everything, even the things we’ve already learned.

If our naïveté was truly burned up, then we’re able to see what was left behind. It is then that we begin to see God as He wants to be seen.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

                                    -Proverbs 9:10

When we begin to see God as He wants to be seen, we begin to see others as He wants us to see them. Only then can we truly begin to help.

No, you don’t have to become a seminarian to see God in the “right” way (nor am I claiming that I see God in that “right” way). But you probably will have to confront your assumptions about Him, His Son, or the text that tells us about them. All those preconceived beliefs just might be right; but you will never know until you confront and test them.

God bless.

Wait… Where am I?

After being in Tigard for a little over two weeks, I think I have finally been able to settle down. My roommate has moved in, my room is entirely organized, and I’m keeping up relatively well with each of my classes. What I think I am now able to do since things have become less chaotic is figure out exactly where I am.

No, my geographical location is not what I’m talking about. What I really mean is, throughout the last two-ish weeks, I’ve been focusing on things like where to put my reading chair, how to organize my mini-library, and which frozen pizzas to get. With all those things out of the way, I can finally address the city and the community in which I now live. Every time I go to work at the Duck Store at the Washington Square Mall, I find myself saying, “Back in Eugene, we…” Yet I’m no longer in Eugene. Where I identify myself with has changed. Quite naturally, I feel disoriented.

In Eugene, I knew a ton of different people in different parts of town and almost at any given point I could send them a text or call them (let’s be honest, I sent them a text) and in minutes we could be hanging out. It isn’t as easy here – at least, not at this stage of the game. And quite like my physical community changing, my spiritual community has as well.

I haven’t yet gone to a church here in Tigard, despite one being right across from my apartment complex. And no, it isn’t because I had some falling out with God; the next three years at seminary would be pretty long years if that were the case. It’s been because I wanted to do exactly what I’ve done: get settled.

Proverbs 24:27 says, “Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” In context, I have absolutely no idea what this might mean. But how I see it with where I am in my own context, it means to get settled with being in a completely different city than what I’m used to, and then get involved.

On Monday I got to sit down with A.J. Swoboda to talk about where I’ve come from and why I’m here. At the end of our discussion, he asked me what I needed prayer for and in that moment I realized I really miss the faith community in Eugene. Not to say that it was better than what it is here – I couldn’t even begin to suggest that since I haven’t gone to a church yet. But to say that I grew really close to plenty of really good people in Eugene and they aren’t physically as close as they once were.

What I can’t overlook, though, is the plethora of friends I already have here in the Portland area. They’re friends I made while in Eugene (or Lincoln City) and will most likely be the people I start to branch out with in regards to a faith community. Until all that begins, though, I think I’m supposed to embrace the disorientation. I think I’m supposed to spend some more time in solitude with God in order to get my bearings straight. I think I’m supposed to wrestle with who I am and how I associate and identify with my new surroundings. I think supposed to find out firsthand what Abraham went through.

What can often happen in a time of transition is intense moments of nostalgia – constantly longing for a time that was easier. But it wasn’t easier. It only seems easier because it was familiar. Knowing that is crucial to growing in a new place with new people.

Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, and whatever you’re doing, soak it in.

God bless.

Taking the Plunge…

I thought I would enjoy it this time around. Last time it took forever and my car broke down on a couple occasions, but this time seemed to be filled with so much positive that I wouldn’t ever see the negative. New city, people, places, and coffee shops – what could possibly be bad? Alas, my opinion has not changed.

Moving sucks.

Beyond small cuts and bruises from moving stuff around, frequent sneeze attacks because you haven’t dusted since the last time you moved, and never-ending moments of nostalgia as you rummage through all your old stuff, there is this looming question of whether it’s worth it or not – as in, is it worth the increase of student loan debt? Is it worth the hassle and frustration of finding an apartment? And is it worth leaving such a valuable community – such a close family – in Eugene?

These are the things going through my mind as I continue to sift out the stuff I no longer need and condense the things I want to keep. I’m still a couple weeks away from making the actual move to Portland (well, hopefully a couple weeks, but that’s another issue) and what I’m finding thus far is that despite being busy with two jobs, I have a lot of time to think and rethink my decision. It’s rather freezing.

What I mean is, all my second-guessing and wrestling with doubt has left me stalled – kind of like my old Lumina at the Kiefer-Mazda dealership a couple weeks ago. It’s like my heart’s telling me to go, but my mind is holding things up – leaving me idle in the driveway. No, I’m not taking my decision back; I’m simply starting to feel the pressure of all the responsibilities I’ve just lumped onto my shoulders. I’ll be in a new apartment in a new city at a new school with a new car, a new job, and new roommates. The “new” is almost overwhelming.

Some questions that come to mind when reflecting over all that is about to change are: If it’s so stressful, why not drop it? If it’s causing me anxiety and doubt and fear and if I’m beginning to lose sleep over it, why not let it go? Why not continue on with what I’m doing now and live a happy life? It’s certainly an attractive idea with all that I need to take care of in the coming weeks.

And yet…

I feel as though I’d be doing worse by not going. It’d be like buying tickets to a baseball game you’ve wanted to go to and then not going because you don’t want to deal with all the people, parking lots, and other frustrations along the way. I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to pursue a higher education – even higher than the education I’ve already received – and not to take it might mean never receiving it again. Sure, I could always buy baseball tickets at another time. But what if I were to marry, have kids, take up a new job, and get so caught up with life that I never even get a chance to think about it again?

Even if that weren’t the case – the notion of being caught up in the “busy-ness” of life – there’s a greater issue at stake. It’s one that involves purpose and this word “calling.” I don’t use that word often because I think it gets overused and even misused. And yet when I consider what’s driving me to study Scripture at a much more in-depth level – and actually thrust myself into such a spiritually-transforming experience that is seminary – I find no other word that fits more perfectly. But what does the word mean?

The Holman Bible Dictionary defines “call” or “calling” as a “Term often used of one being called by God to salvation and service,” (253). What does that really mean? It’s God’s fault.

In a way, I’m kidding, but in another way, I’m not.

“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out,” – Proverbs 25:2

When I read Scripture, there are so many things that come to mind – so many questions that not too many average congregants could answer. Like, when did Christianity become Christianity and why? Or when did people start treating the extra-biblical letters of Paul, Peter, and others as “Scripture” (and yes, they were extra-biblical at the time they were written)? And if there are so many translations of the Bible, then why aren’t more people learning Greek and Hebrew?

Seeking out the answers to questions like these is the “things” that are concealed by God. Now, I’m not a king, but I know that it would be glorifying to God to search those “things” out. He wants us to ask, He wants us to pursue, and He wants us to be engaged in the life He created. To do anything less than that is not to do anything glorifying to Him.

Taking the plunge to seminary, then, is worth all the packing, moving, and shouldering of responsibilities. It’s worth undergoing all the pressure of higher academic standards and being more studious than I ever was before. And yes, it’s even worth the deeper student loan debt (though I will be seeking more ways to cut those down as much as possible). It is worth all of those things because I, for the glory of God, am seeking out the things that He has concealed in His glory – so that I might be able to glorify Him in every way.

Yes, I’m nervous. I’ve never been so greatly challenged on so many levels. And yet, I’ve never had this opportunity before, which means I must take it head on and become fully immersed. If I try to remain standing where I am, I’ll never find out if I’m capable of the task.

You cannot learn to swim while standing on the shore.

God bless.

Listening to Rebukes…

Due to upcoming costs for seminary, living in Portland, poker, and maybe a new car, I got a second job working the grounds crew with the Eugene Emeralds (a minor league baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres). How I got that job, though, wasn’t the easiest of processes and involved biting the bullet on a mistake I made.

I first applied to work in the merchandise department for the Ems, but wasn’t hired for the job. Despite a small kick to the pride, I was okay with it – even more so, now. But there was still the issue with gathering some extra funds for all the costs awaiting me this fall.

[Enter Tony Overstake]

Tony was one of the pastors at Calvary Fellowship before the head pastor resigned and the building was sold. He’s the current UO chaplain working through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry. Ever since my freshman year of college, we’ve been meeting up as regularly as possible for a Bible study. On one particular meeting, he asked me if I wanted to come to his place the next day and pull some weeds. Seeing the opportunity to gather some funds, I said I would. So the next day I drove down to Creswell in my yard-work clothes.

I used to pull weeds as a kid living with my grandpa in Lincoln City. I hated it. I still hate it. But, as evidenced by the offer from Tony, what my grandpa put me through as a kid paid off, literally. Yet something happened toward the end of the day that I’m not exactly ashamed of, but I know I’m not proud of.

It was hot out that particular day. I can’t remember the exact temperature, but it was more than this coastal kid is used to. I was drinking a lot of water and doing my best to keep hydrated throughout the day – trying to work in the shade as much as possible. However, the last hour and a half had to be done directly in sunlight. And since the weeds were growing amongst the flowers (Tony’s flowers; not his wife’s), I was crouched low to the ground so I could get a better grip on the weeds. I have no idea how long I was crouched low, but when I went to stand up, I felt incredibly dizzy and actually fell over.

In that moment, I decided to call it. I had been working for about six hours and felt totally drained of energy, so I thought my dizziness was a sign I should call it a day. What I didn’t take into account was how there was only about ten minutes left of work. If I had taken a five minute break, gotten some water, and gone back at it for those ten minutes, I would have done a more respectable thing. Instead, I quit before the job was finished.

None of this had come to mind until Tony talked to me moments later. He was writing me a check for having worked, but he said something that stuck with me, “I’m just going to go ahead and say this, but I think you should have finished the job. I understand you were dizzy and it’s hot out, but it was only ten minutes worth of work. So this is just for future reference, but if you’re working for someone and trying to impress an employer, you might want to work through the difficulties.”

Believe me, I didn’t want to hear that. In fact, I drove home with a bitter taste in my mouth because I felt as though it wasn’t my fault that I stopped. And yet, I don’t think my bitter feeling was toward Tony or what he said; it was because he was right. Given a choice between comfort and finishing a job, I chose comfort. Sure, I was dizzy, but like I said above; I could have taken a five minute break (or less) and gone right back to work to finish out the project. Instead, I took that opportunity and chose to be comfortable rather than respectable.

No, I don’t think Tony respects me any less than what he did before I showed up to work that day. But he certainly doesn’t have any good reason to respect me more after that day. And that’s where I dropped the ball. I didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to work hard and work well for someone I respect. Yet it’s because I respect Tony that I was able to hear his honest and gentle rebuke (Two things I noticed about Tony’s words to me: 1. He could have said them in front of his wife and thereby embarrass me or 2. He could have said them right when I chose to call it a day with all the emotion he must have felt; he didn’t. He kept his cool and told me quietly).

A while ago I had written a post about Dutch Uncles and about how we need them and how we need to be them. Tony was the epitome of a Dutch Uncle that day; he was honest, yet constructive, telling me what I needed to hear so that I may do better the next time around. Little did I know that the next time around was that following Thursday when I went to my first day with the Ems grounds crew.

It was not an easy day. I was told the day before all the duties of the job, but was still nervous about putting them all into practice on my first day. When I showed up, I had expected to find another guy whom I was told was my coworker. He wasn’t there. And since the guy who hired me had another job working with the U of O athletic department, I knew he wasn’t going to be there for a little while.

All of the things the other guy was supposed to have done, since he shows up two hours before me, were now my responsibility and I had to learn on the fly. What Tony had told me the Saturday before was the driving force to my work ethic on that Thursday and every day thereafter.

My Saturday with Tony was chockfull of lessons from Proverbs; stuff about a wise man listening to a rebuke (3:11-12, 12:15, 19:20), how rebukes are meant to improve you (1:23, 29:1), how iron sharpens iron (27:17), keeping your cool when feeling emotional (29:11), walking with the wise (13:20), and not slacking off when on the job (18:9). If Tony had not said what he did, I might still have gotten the second job, but I know for sure I wouldn’t have had the same drive to work well and take advantage of an opportunity to impress an employer.

Listening to a rebuke is never easy. It hurts our pride and oftentimes makes us feel as though we’re incapable of doing things the right way. Yet it is precisely what Proverbs 3:11-12 says that urges us to listen when we’re corrected, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” God loves us enough to correct us when we mess up or not do as well as we should have. He does so because He’s re-creating us.

Ignoring your critics is often seen as a good thing. And maybe sometimes it is – like when the criticism is destructive and not ground in any good reason. But without someone telling us we’re doing it wrong, how will we know if we’re ever doing it right? Such a practice demands discernment to, like pulling weeds from flowers, sift the bad criticism from the good.

“[Be] quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” – James 1:19

Who knows? Listening to correction just might actually land you a job.

God bless.

Being a Wayward Student…

Several nights ago I wandered through U of O’s campus. It was shortly after submitting my application to Western Seminary and I was about to work on the essay for George Fox (which I still haven’t finished). Having written the six-page essay for Western, I wanted to walk around a bit and recharge my mind. Having spent hours writing, rewriting, and then rewriting some more, I needed the fresh air.

As I was walking by all the old buildings, I couldn’t help but wish I was a freshman all over again. It’d be nice if I could have the chance to fix my mistakes, but that’s not why I wanted to be 19 again. And yes, it would definitely be nice to start my student loan debt all over again, but that’s not the reason, either. Seeing all the places where I used to have class reminded me of the times when those places – even Eugene itself – were all new.

I wanted the dorms, Rec Center, Mac Court, Autzen Stadium, Condon Hall (not Deady; that place is evil), and even the amphitheater to be new again. I wanted to walk into my first 200+ lecture class, write my first paper, or take my first mid-term. I wanted all the firsts because if you’re having firsts, then you’re doing something different – something new.

Being in Eugene has been fun and I’ve grown quite substantially here. There is now – and will be for some time – a sense of home here, as there is every time I return to Lincoln City. But, like my senior year of high school, I feel as though I’ve outgrown Eugene. I feel like a wayward student – searching for the next class but never finding it.

My hopeful move to Portland isn’t only to have a new experience. Eugene has plenty of places I haven’t been to (like a frisbee golf course) and things I haven’t yet done (like frisbee golf). But there isn’t the sense of an adventure. One way of describing how I feel is like when Bilbo Baggins saw the map leading to the Lonely Mountain; his eyes were filled with nothing but curiosity. And on the morning of departure, though he hesitated, he gave in to that curiosity and never regretted it.

Having applied to one school and almost to another, I am beginning to feel that excitement Bilbo felt. I know haven’t been accepted yet, but I can’t help but think of the mountains, forests, and rivers ahead of me. I can’t help but wonder and imagine what it’ll be like to write a master’s thesis or actually study for an exam (jokes…). I can’t help but imagine the types of people I’ll meet or what kind of church I’ll be a part of. Having nearly finished both applications, I am becoming more eager to head out the door.

If it turns out that I don’t get accepted to either school, I’ll be crushed. But even if that happens, it doesn’t mean that a move to Portland (or anywhere else) is out of the picture. It’ll simply mean, despite my disagreement, that seminary wasn’t part of the picture. Frankly, though, I have a good feeling about getting accepted to one or the other. Something tells me seminary is a part of the picture.

Thinking about this fall has caused me to look at what I’m doing now. Am I getting as much out of this season of life as I can before it ends or am I simply getting by, not doing anything different? Simply because this is the same old place doesn’t mean I can’t do something different or meet new people or devote more time to the friends and family I have here. Just like the promise of Christ’s return is supposed to change the way we live in the present, thinking ahead to new seasons of life ought to change the way we live the present season. When I think about how I might be married some day, I feel the need to practice the traits of a good husband now.

Eugene and U of O have been an adventure, but it is over. It sounds sad, but what would be even worse is if I tried to stay here and continue the undergraduate life. I can’t. All those memories and experiences can never be new again. In a way, I have to move somewhere else and do something else. Like seminary in Portland.

“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out,” – Proverbs 25:2

Wander. Explore. Go where your Godly adventure calls. It is what God wants and, deep down, it is what we want, too.

God bless.