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29
Aug

seminary eve

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my seminary journey. A week ago I might have called it my seminary career, but in the past several days I have been told over and over again that this will be a process, not just an event. I have been told, through speech and through printed word, that my spiritual life will be taken through eyes of needles and valleys of shadows in the next few years.

One of my courses requires that I read a textbook before the first class meeting; this book is entitled “What to Expect in Seminary: Theological Education as Spiritual Formation,” and its author is Virginia Samuel Cetuk. My dad was right when he told me that it is an easy read; I have read two of its seven chapters tonight already. Cetuk suggests at the end of the second chapter that I keep a journal of my thoughts about and answers to the many questions and challenges that will be presented in the book (and, by extension, throughout my time in seminary). Now, at various points throughout my life I have attempted to write in journals before going to bed, but I have had neither enough motivation nor enough early success to make a habit out of journaling. However, typing is something that comes somewhat naturally to me – or at least it goes quickly – so I think that journaling in this medium might work better.

I am excited to begin. I am hopeful for what will come. I know very little of what I will be in four or five years when this phase of the Journey is complete. I trust that God will take care of all my needs in this span, and I hope to be readily dependent on his grace and love in the coming months and years.

Cetuk asks, “What do you most want to do with your life?” I want to become a shepherd of God’s people; I want to help other people come to know the Lord as fully as possible. I want to lead.

Cetuk asks, “What do you hope to offer to the world?” I hope to offer a fresh perspective, one that is dissatisfied with trite, “Sunday School” answers to faith questions, one that pushes people towards brutal honesty with their Creator and with each other.

Cetuk says, “This sustained exposure to God and the implications of such an encounter mean that you will be confronted with yourself and your values and beliefs in life changing ways. . . . in theological education, you will find your self-understanding dramatically altered through the seminary experience, and you may at times feel as if you are limping along after you encounter God in a new way.”

Soul-searching and deep questioning are to be expected, she writes. Friendships change, families change, individuals change “at alarming rates.” This is “the cost of discipleship”; how much will I sacrifice to follow the Lord? “Challenged as they are, students begin to see their old ways of being in the world as inadequate. Cling as they might to those old patterns and beliefs, they must move beyond them if they are to offer mature spiritual leadership in the future.”

Cetuk says, “You will meet people in seminary who expect to be supported in the faith they came to seminary with and who do not expect to be challenged to change. You will also know students who do expect to change while in seminary, but to do so without the level of challenge and upheaval that is the necessary consequence of a solid program of theological education. Both types of students are at risk, . . . for such stasis in the spiritual life is neither healthy nor desirable.”

Cetuk asks, “What do you expect will happen to you and for you while you are in your seminary program?” First, I expect to be softened to Christ again. In the past two years at Miami, I have become hardened to the grace of Jesus, to the love of God. I can remember what it felt like to be soft, to know Christ’s love intimately, to care deeply and freely. I so desire to change. I also expect my faith to be transformed, again; the coming years will bring much change and instruction and growth in knowledge and skill, and these are instruments through which faith is exercised.

“How open do you think you are to new experiences and new ideas?” Good question. Math, to me, is a closed subject; I learned only the known in that field, at least as far as I studied. I had no desire to delve into the unknown in mathematics. That may transfer into my seminary education; but perhaps I will be more open to new things in this arena, because it truly matters. Math never mattered very much to me.

“To what extent would you describe yourself as being ‘on the lookout for God’?” (That is, how well do I see God at work clearly in everyday life?) Again, I am less “on the lookout” now than I was two years ago. This is something I hope to recover while in seminary. Sensitivity to the moving and teaching of the Holy Spirit is essential to relevant ministry. I want to learn how to do this very well.

pp 46-47: amen.

2 Responses to “seminary eve”

  1. another year, another … year | SeminaryBlog Says:

    […] good weekend | […]

  2. One Thing | One Thing Says:

    […] years ago, I wrote these words: I am excited to begin. I am hopeful for what will come. I know very little of what I will be in […]

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