This post was written by Paul of The Long Way Home and Reform & Revive. Paul recently got accepted to Westminster Theological Seminary and is currently in his last semester at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Hello world, my name is Paul. Just A Guy asked me to help out while he was gone on vacation. Why me? Well, I represent a potentially significant portion of the visitors to the site that may seem underrepresented – the unmarried undergrad about to go into seminary. Just a couple of weeks ago I received my acceptance e-mail, phone text message, and letter from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I am hoping to earn my Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling there and then return to Richmond, Virginia (my current home) and help with counseling services in my church.
I only have three points in this post (I’m already getting my preaching experience in, huh?): an introduction, a story, and an exhortation. Seeing as the introduction has already occurred, a story is now due. I grew up being the guy who had such a passion and zeal for God it annoyed others, but nevertheless knew he was not called to be a pastor or hold any real office in a church. God made it very clear my entire life that He had not called me to that, while everyone else around me said otherwise. Then it happened. I don’t know when, exactly; I don’t know why. All I know is that about a year ago, God slowly started stirring something in me he hadn’t before. Nothing external in my life changed, He just started moving and changing me.
I see now God works in this way, and I’m okay with that. He never lied to me or deceived me, He simply had not called me yet. He allowed, ordained, and desired for me to develop under this assumption, because it caused me to hone skills, knowledge, and abilities to engage an unredeemed culture that I otherwise may not have. I realize now that God’s will is first and foremost what He works in and out of us, not where we go to school. We often see what He works in us as means to effect the environment around us. I see now quite the opposite is often true. The externals are the means to accomplish God’s primary goal, which is your sanctification. To work in You something that otherwise would be lacking, eternally preventing you from enjoying God in all His fullness and splendor. He is committed to not letting this happen, thus He will do all it takes to work those things in and out of you.
So now the exhortation. I’m moving north in a few short months. I have no place to live, no money for a place to live, no friends, no church, no support, no nothing in Philadelphia. Not only that, I’m terrified about the effect seminary will have on my spiritual life. I’m already “intellectual” and “theological” enough to easily make those things idols. I’m terrified. I’m scared. Add to that the reality of God’s preparation for all of this including a purging of my soul in such a way I’m seeing parts of myself I never knew were there. Parts so dark and depraved I wouldn’t be able to live apart form the grace of God that accompanies these “insights.” But you know what? For one reason or another it’s okay. Not because everything is going to work out with a nice ribbon on top. It may, or it may not. It’s okay because of who He is, and because I know that if this whole thing weren’t so difficult, I wouldn’t need Him, and it’s in my need I have Him most.
That’s the strange mystery of this whole Christianity thing: in the end, the goal is not anything that happens to you. The goal is a man, Jesus Christ, and so it is to that end that He works in and through and for and in spite of us daily, that we might look a little more like Him at the end. That is why, brothers, this whole ministry thing can not and should not be simple or easy. It should ruin us, crush us, drive us to our knees to taste the dirt falling from the sandal of our Master. Praise God there’s regeneration, that changes us so even dirt falling from Him taste sweeter than the finest pleasures and satisfactions this world has to offer. So be diligent, persevere, repent always, and know that you are more sinful than you could ever dare imagined, but more loved and accepted than you ever dared dream. To God alone be the glory. Thank you for you time in reading this.
Lord, let humility reign, truth remain, and set our affections upon You. Amen.