Four Years and All I Got is . . .

<%image(20050515-Ed and LT smallest.jpg|164|123|LT and Ed)%> Decked out in my hat, robe, and hood, I lined up for graduation at Biblical Theological Seminary. Having finished my classes in December, graduation day had meant little to me, merely a mandatory, vague exercise required of me. The MDiv degree was already in my living room, what more need I do. After shmoozing with my fellow graduates (less than half of whom I knew), we lined up to process in. And then the weight of four years came rushing upon me.


I realized how done I really am. I no longer need to fret about the burden of classes that keep me from my wife, ministry opportunities, and leisure with friends. My evenings will now be free and I can pursue whatever topic I fancy in my spare time.

Looking back at those early days of seminary, not having a clue about what I was getting myself into, it amazed me how much I have changed. I am far less spiritual and disciplined than I was when I entered, but am somehow more spiritual in other ways, attaching special significance to the precious few practices that I hold to. I don’t study the Bible like I used to, now I know why I study it, understand the Spirit’s role in the process, and while not going as deep as before, I know the story better. I pray differently and practice spiritual disciplines of a totally different nature. While I used to fast every week early on in seminary, now I recite the Divine Hours 3 times a day. New season of life, new disciplines. So much of what has formed me has come in one way or another through my time in seminary.

I could write a book about the ways that seminary can be a waste of time and brain power, but when looking back at my four wonderful years at Biblical, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Standing in line with my scralet hood hanging down andthe shark fin sticking out at the bottom, I said to myself, “God, we did it.” I don’t know why God wanted me in seminary, but I do know that he is solely responsible for getting me and seeing me through the course. Without his providential hand, I would have figured out a way to mess it up. It feels like the past four years have been spent on God’s lap in the driver’s seat, feeling like I had control of the car, but it really was hands on the wheel that kept me on track.

There is a sadness when I think of all the times with Julie that I missed because of reading assignments and papers. Seminary made our first year of marriage hard for her. I was right in the room next to her, but somehow in a different world. Seminary land had captivated my mind for many evenings, devoring theology books like a drug. And yet, things weren’t messed up. Miraculously we made it, we’re happily married, I’m not a heretic, I’m not a raving angry fundy, and it seems like things in our lives aren’t too messed up. How did this happen?

Perhaps it’s a small one on the scale of miracles, but perhaps the awe of witnessing the completion of a long, drawn-out miracle is what took my breath away in line today. Four years of my life given to something far bigger than myself. I spent four years studying God. I tremble at the thought. How can a degree mean anything in a sense when studying God??? During the ceremony we sand “To God Be the Glory” and I was struck by the verse talking about “our wonder our transport when Jesus we see.” For a so-called “master of divinity”, that is what it’s all about. Seeing Jesus was both hard and easy in seminary. As I step forward into a new phase of life up in the Green Mountains, I pray that we would continue to see Jesus and to live for that moment when we are face to face. While I celebrate what God has wrought in our lives, I know that the true passage will be when I stand in fellowship with God himself. That is so far beyond me and outside my grasp. Once again I can only fall on God’s grace to see my through.

4 thoughts on “Four Years and All I Got is . . .

  1. LT

    we’re GRADUATED! thank you so much for many of the kind words that you left on todd’s blog. it’s great when wives meet. it kinda makes everything…complete. as i said on todd’s blog. i’m so humbled by what y’all had to say. i really think highly of you brother and hope truly to keep in touch and i don’t say that just for the sake of saying it. i intend to try. i appreciate your honesty in your posts. i resonate with many of the things you say especially in your latest. it’s relieving to know some of your inner struggles because i find myself there often too. God bless means so much more to me now. indeed, may God bless you and make his face shine upon you.

  2. Kathy K.

    Ed,
    We are so happy for you and Julie. You both worked so hard. Saturday was a great day and a nice evening.
    All of our love,
    Craig, Mom, Amanda and the Nana

  3. J.R.

    Ed,

    I find this timely for me to read, seeing that I head back to Taylor tomorrow morning to watch my brother walk up and get his diploma and towel. I’m very excited and I am certain it will bring about amazing memories from the past (see my blog for a post on this).

    But congratulations, Ed. Well done. I so appreciated your post and thoughts on life before, during and after seminary. Very articulate.
    My favorite phrase was: "God, we did it!" what a powerful phrase. I have been reading through Nehemiah and that idea of doing the work together with God seems to be one of the main themes of the book. If we could only grasp that balance in our lives – making sure to avoid believing that it is all God and we have no responsibility or accountability and the other side of "it’s all up to us."
    "God, we did it" is a great mantra for one’s life as a follower of Jesus.

    Yes, Ed, you and God did it.
    Way to go.
    I commend you.

    J.R.

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