It is raining.
Today has been a productive day, though quantifying “production” may be problematic. The measure by which I have determined that today was good is not economic, nor based upon industry. I cannot show you something that I have produced (apart from this blog post), though my day has been wrapped up in life-giving activity.
Today I have finished reading a book, and I have begun three others (1, 2, and 3). I have continued making progress through yet another book that I picked up weeks ago. I had lunch today with a friend. I spent the morning on the porch at a coffee shop, next to my dog. The afternoon was dominated by a nap, as recent weeks and months have left me physically drained, and at times extremely tired (a tiredness which I have continually pressed myself to push through). During the evening hours I will wait until I hear from Molly, who will need a ride home after a long day’s work.
In recent days (and weeks) I’ve spent a good deal of time reflecting on the past. I’ve considered carefully the church who nurtured me in the Christian faith. Despite some deficiencies, I am deeply grateful for what I’ve received. I’ve thought about the world and the culture within which I have lived and moved and have had my being, and I’ve determined that I both love the world which surrounds me yet recognize the characteristics of life and culture which are debilitating and unhealthy. I’ve thought a great deal about ministry–both what it means to lead and to be part of the priesthood who constitute the people of God. I’ve considered friends, faces, stories, conversations, debates, discussions, meals, games, grief, celebrations, families (both biological and spiritual), and everything in between. Thus far in my life I have been extremely blessed by those persons whom God has surrounded me with in times of triumph and despair. Apart from this nexus of relationships I would be an entirely different person. In fact, my own formation as a follower of Christ is largely, if not wholly, the result of the gifts I’ve received from so many others, beginning with my parents who received me hospitably into this world despite the fact I was a stranger. All of my life has been an incredible gift.
Through the life I have led I have sought to bless others, though passing along such blessings has been difficult at times. I’ve had to overcome my own depravity, my own sin, which I could not do apart from the grace of God. My life has been focused on being a disciple of Jesus, though I have gone from one degree to the next in depth of understanding concerning what such discipleship means. I have continued to learn, and as I have plumbed the deep vat of knowledge and wisdom which has become encapsulated in the Christian tradition I have been reminded again and again of just how much remains to be discovered and known. Through such learning I have sought to be faithful in service, building others up for the purpose of strengthening the body, the edification of the Kingdom, the glory of God. At times my words have been ill-chosen. I know there are times that I have fallen short of God’s purposes. At other times, however, I’ve been amazed by the degree of transformation experienced by students and friends when God has chosen to use me as an instrument. It has blessed my soul when I have been able to listen to a fellow traveler and reach the conclusion that because of the steps we have shared together, both of us have been transformed. Perhaps most rewarding are those moments when I can see how someone more clearly resembles Christ than the time we had first met, and my imagination takes off as I dream what the future might hold for this person(s).
Looking forward I appear to be at a point of transition. In the coming months I’ll complete work on my thesis at the University of Kansas. I’ll also apply to various PhD programs around the land, hoping to find a destination for further study. I continue to discern an increase in three passions: (1) writing; (2) teaching and developing leaders; and (3) the intellectual love of God. Those passions will be used for service, the recipient of such service being the church. I am reminded of this on the opening page of one of my journals. On the first page is a quote from Karl Barth, which reads, “If there is any discipline that both inwardly and outwardly ought to serve, it is theology.” May God use my service to glorify his name.
As a conclusion to this entry I would make an appeal: I enjoy writing, and my interests are broad. In recent weeks I have pursued contacts which I currently have about opportunities for writing. Perhaps some of you reading this blog have others. If you know of magazines, online publications, or publishers looking for willing writers, please let me know, or do me the kind favor of passing along my work. My main areas of reflection are Christian theology, ethics, and Christian practice, as well as church leadership and visioning for what the faithfulness of the people of God may look like in our current cultural milieu. I appeal broadly to the blogging world, but specifically to others within the Christian community who may be able to provide me assistance. What may come of this I do not know, but I am trusting that God will direct my paths.
And as a final word:
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.