Having just returned from my two days of new student orientation at Asbury Theological Seminary, I couldn’t wait to document my observations, jot down my thoughts, and detail the impressions I had of this amazing higher learning institution. By the way, the guy in the photo above (not the hairy one, but the short guy that can hold incredibly still) is John Wesley. If you don’t know who he is, give him a Google.
If I had to describe the past two days in a single word it would be “Amazing!”. If I was allowed more than a single word I would say “incredible, affirming, energizing, awe-inspiring, humbling, and… amazing (wait did I use that one already?)”. I’ve already described this experience to some friends and family in this way… This is the first time I have sat in a room with 200 people and didn’t feel like the “weirdo.”
Allow me to explain:
As a Christian in today’s world, we are the weird ones. It’s okay. In fact, Jesus tells us not to conform to the ways of the world. He wants us to be the weird ones… the different ones… so that we are an example to the world of his love. Normal today is not love. Normal today is not sacrificing for others. Normal today is not peace.
For the last two days, I have been surrounded by other weirdos, and it was glorious! I was surrounded by others that have been called by God to be in a relationship with him, have honored that call, and answered Jesus’s words of “Follow me.” For a brief moment in time, I felt like part of an army… God’s army. I wasn’t the lone scout sneaking around the enemy lines; I was in formation with brigades of troops following God’s orders. That experience is incredibly affirming and left me with a supreme feeling of peace and contentment.
This experience also exposed, and revealed to me, that the seminary experience is more than just classrooms, lectures, and paper writing. It is more than just acquiring knowledge. It is more than just becoming a scholar. It is more than learning how to preach. The time at seminary is about God transforming you and your family into a well-equipped example of God’s love and power that he will then use to go out into the world and do his work.
Asbury Seminary is made up of buildings, classrooms, chapels, libraries, community centers, student housing, and statues of really short people, but most importantly it contains fantastic people. These amazing people are professors, administrators, registrars, executives, student leaders, and the support staff required to make it all run. Every last one of them is dedicated to equipping tomorrow’s leaders. Every last one of them is following God’s call in their life… the call to equip others to go into every corner of the world and spread His love. And they were doing it all from an incredible place of humility. Dr. Tennent (Asbury’s President), and his wife were kind enough to open their beautiful home to us for dinner. Yesterday I sat at lunch with three professors that are some of the top minds in theology. They all took the time to eat and fellowship with me, sharing their call, their drive, and their passion, while also listening to my testimony and the story of how God is working in my life.
The Asbury community is amazing as well. As I walked around the student housing, I saw children doing something I haven’t seen in many years. They were outside playing. They were riding their bikes, playing stick-ball, running through fields, and being in relationship with each other. As I sat on the front porch of a friend’s apartment in Kalas Village, people walking would stop, introduce themselves, and carry on a conversation with you.
I see why people come then never want to leave. I fear that my family will miss out on this sense of community as I take my classes online from afar.
I owe so many people thanks for providing us with this opportunity. I am overwhelmed by your love and confidence in us as we live out God’s plan for our lives. I thank the Lord for each of you and the part you play in his plan for us. I thank the Lord for being with me (and all of you). I thank him for making all things possible even when they seem overwhelming and completely impossible.
Me… in grad school? The guy that just wanted to get through high school so he could run off to the army? The guy that’s never been to college? I mean come on… that is all God!
I also thank the staff and faculty of Asbury Theological Seminary. Your hard work. Your dedication. Your long hours. Your time away from family and friends… they are all making a difference. Your efforts are making a difference in the lives of students. Your efforts are making a difference in the world. Your efforts are being blessed by our Lord and Savior.
I am poised to throw down my net. My muscles are tensed. My grip is tight. I stare out into the ocean prepared to abandon my comfortable way of life. Please pray for me. Pray that I will have the courage of Peter and Andrew. Pray that I will lay it all down.
18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.… Matthew 4:18-20