“For everything there is a season…”(Eccl. 3:1, ESV) says the pensive writer of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. What did he mean as he went on to list opposite times for everything we do in this short human life? Surely I found out some of what he meant this summer. Nine weeks have passed by at a relatively steady pace with more memories than I care to remember, and I have been observing personal time with the Lord Jesus almost everyday. I started off with a steady reading of 2 Chronicles, and now I have completed up to Nehemiah. Prayer also has been refreshing and restoring because for the first time in a long time I have been able to converse with God clearly.
I have also been reading Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. All quotes unless otherwise noted are from this book. I enjoy this book so much that I feel like I am with Mr. Bonhoeffer in the Nazi prison cell, but I can see the beauty of his freedom in Christ displayed in his letters to his family and friends. With that being said here are some things I learned and reflected on this summer that by God’s grace I will carry into the next year of teaching, learning, and serving the Lord.
1. “The wish to be independent in everything is false pride.” – Solitude, true solitude, is very good for a season, but time spent in fellowship with others and learning to share burdens with others is a part of living in Christian community. It is also an evidence of salvation that we would love our fellow Christians and not forsake meeting together weekly. And hopefully more than just Sunday.
2. Rest. Rest is necessary for survival, and every good soldier knows when to sleep. I devoted this summer to recuperating, renewing, and restoring my mind and body back to full capacity. Partly by recreation and partly by relaxation. The word blessing sometimes feels inadequate to describe the freedoms I have tasted and the miraculous provision of God these past few weeks.
3. “It is presumptuous to want to have everything at once” and “But gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. The beauties of the past are borne, not as a thorn in the flesh, but as a precious gift in themselves.” – this one is for multiple people I met this summer during ministry events and mission work. The times we had together were valuable; the conversations enduring. The lessons I learned from you and because of you were in a sense “eternal” because they pointed me back to the Scriptures and trust in the Father. I am thankful for you and because of your friendship. Thank you.
4. Lastly, I am now confidently in my calling. The process was sometimes arduous to get here, and more often than not the path was unsure, but each decision led to this moment as I go back to work with my students, co-workers, and fellow seminary companions. I have become a young minister, and my thoughts seem more like the Lord’s thoughts each day though not without the setbacks and challenges of the flesh of course. This is not the end though, but rather a time to rejoice now that my personal valleys are finished for a season.
On a final note about being called I would like to say that the truth is we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow, so I can’t predict anything except for what’s happening right now. God lays certain skills and tasks and opportunities in front of us to complete. Right now I will try to complete seminary, but in the future other doors may open to the mission field full time. We shall see. Until then though let’s carry on together, and I hope you will continue to walk along with me down pilgrims’ tracks.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. New York: Macmillan, 1972. Print.