The last two semesters, I have been making the commute to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church to take classes through the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension center there, sitting through traffic, blasting music, stopping by the Krispy Kreme Donut Shoppe on the way. Classes there did not quite measure up to the image of seminary that I had in my head. When I started the M. Div. program, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I simply did what I felt like I needed to do.
I didn’t quite feel at home doing school that first semester or the next. Still, I pushed through it. I enjoyed the classes that I took to be sure, but my feelings led me up and down through sensations of restlessness. After this past semester concluded, school did not cross my mind until one of my coworkers at First Redeemer Church asked me about my schedule for the fall. A weight of dread came over me as I realized that it was getting close to that time where I needed to register for classes.
As I looked through the catalog of available classes and compared them against my plan of study, I discovered an entirely different sensation than the anxiety that I had expected. I found myself excited when I looked over the classes that I needed to take. A part of me retreated as I realized that perhaps the time had come to consider going after seminary full-time. At that moment, though, I was not convinced.
Then came Tori’s question that I mentioned yesterday which was followed by my minor revelation. Like a rush of wind, it seemed as though the seasons were rapidly changing. I tried to go about my business as normally as possible, but the momentum had already begun carrying me.
* * *
When I started working at First Redeemer as an audio engineer, the job was an immense blessing that fell into my lap as things hard started to seem bleak. It allowed me to get a glimpse into ministry life without any of the strings attached to pastoral ministry. Like taking seminary classes through the extension center, it allowed me to take a peek behind the curtain. Some of what I found forced me to ask the question: Are you sure that this is where you want to be? Is this really where you feel like God is calling you?*
Several people posed that question to me, whether explicitly or by the implication of their tone, and this past year of working in a church has given me time to get a taste for what I might be stepping into. I have had my stare down with doubt. I have traversed mountains and valleys of clarity and confusion. Honestly, I have struggled with an immense level of frustration through this strange season that, I believe, was intended to be a season of rest. Since I finished my undergrad in December of 2011, the Lord has provided for me and given me a chance simply to breathe after years of school.
The wind, though, has changed, and it has changed quickly. The last couple of weeks, I have been talking with my parents and people at the church about a transition into full-time study in seminary. As of right now, the plan is move to New Orleans before classes start at NOBTS on August 19th. This development has taken place seemingly overnight, but as one of my mentors said to me, my decision to do this almost had to happen this way because of the gravity that it would take to finally draw me out of the place that I had been in.
There are still a couple of things that could derail this plan, but the transition from extension center to main campus should be relatively seamless once I have provided all of the appropriate paperwork.
This decision, though it seems as though it is being made in the blink of an eye, has not been made easily. There will be a lot of people I will miss. I have not stayed in Georgia out of fear. My heart loves this place and this area, but it is not as if I am going to be worlds away. Still, I will miss being able to see my family, friends, and church every week.
As I talked about in my previous post, though, I need this change to ensure that I am going where God is leading me and not clinging to my attitude of merely pleasing and serving people. This journey will have its trials. I expect them, though I do not presume to know exactly how to prepare for them. My steps will be made with the faith, hope, and trust that it is the Lord who is directing them. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated.
If you are reading this, then I love you. This transition will be, I believe, a great one.
*Now, what I found when getting a closer look into ministry life was nothing terrible. It was simply like waking up from a dream. Anyone who entered into their desired career has experienced something similar. It’s like when that first child is born; before becoming a mother or father, the only readily accessible information about babies is the cute pictures and the beautiful family portraits. No matter how often someone tells you about diapers, spitting up, and sleepless nights, there is still a certain level of shock that first evening when the baby will not stop crying. The entire endeavor is still good. The struggles, in fact, mysteriously makes raising that child more noble and worthy of a task.