Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last Piece of My Story

I did not have a good seminary experience.  I had good moments in seminary, but overall I was not a good fit for that place nor (some) of those people.  I made a girl cry in class one day because I said I thought God's judgment on the nations in Joshua was just.  I got threatened by a teacher to "get whacked" because I wouldn't back off from another comment.  I had one prof look at me like I had horns when I said I thought Calvin was right about the unconditional nature of God's election.  And I had a professor ask me, "Where is THAT in the Bible?" when I suggested that racial reconciliation attempts apart from the cross are exercises in managing our relationships, not really reconciling them (I answered with Ephesians 2.11ff, for those who care).  I had a professor I loved and a couple of key educational experiences.  But like I said, overall, not a good fit.

Some of that was me.  My parents were in the midst of dissolving a 32-year marriage that, for me, came from nowhere.  I hate telling that story, so I'll spare everyone here (including my parents, who I think are 2 of the 6 who read the blog).  Some of that was the seminary, which was birthed amid controversy in the denomination of which I claim loose affiliation.  We had men and women walking the halls who couldn't tell you about church discipline or the nature of the atonement but were very up-to-speed on what so-and-so had written in the state paper about such-and-such a topic.  It was gross.

It got so bad one day that I threw in the towel.  I told God, in a little prayer area just off the sanctuary where the seminary was meeting, that I was done.  I would go anywhere and do anything but go back to class.  I wanted nothing to do with the casual approach to the Bible.  I wanted nothing to do with the idiocy of the politics.  I wanted nothing to do with the hurt feelings of some of the professors who were displaced by a different agenda.  I was done.  I was out.  The towel was thrown.

God threw it back.  I was praying and, as clearly as you're reading this right now, the Holy Spirit instructed me to read Psalm 45.  I knew it was Him, so I grabbed my Bible and sat down on the front row of this sanctuary.  It's a quirky little psalm and I really thought I had misheard, so I turned to Psalm 145.  Again, "Read Psalm 45."  Back to the text, I was plugging along through it and found myself lost.  Huh?  What?  My conversation when something like this...

Me:  "Oh, I get it.  Thanks for the object lesson.  The true treasure is in the process, not the goal.  It's digging deep to find the gold.  Thanks, God."  Now, reread that in the best sarcastic, teenage voice you can.  You get the picture of my attitude in that moment.

God:  "Are you going to finish the psalm?"

Me:  "The rest is more of the same, right?"

God:  "Are you going to finish the psalm?"

Me:  "Fine."

I'm not proud of that moment, but it was honest.  I really thought God was giving me a little object lesson about how I needed to stick to it.  Little did I know.

The Bible I had at the time had the first 16 verses of Psalm 45 on one page and v.17 on the next page.  That was Providence at work, because I turned the page and it was like I started a new chapter in my life.  Psalm 45.17 says, "I will cause Your Name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever."  That has, ever since, been my life verse.

I am called to herald God and His Kingdom in such a way that people of all ages and nations worship Him as a result.  And every day, that's what I give myself to in ministry, whether to my family or neighbors or church.  And I'm grateful for a moment on a Thursday in March of 1997.  And I'm grateful for quirky little Psalm 45.  And I'm grateful for God who called me.

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