<%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.