As many of you know, if you’ve been reading my blog, I have gone back to school, to finish my grad degree in Theological Studies. Well, I have a take home (closed book on the honor system!) midterm exam for my History of the Old Testament course. I have not had a lot of time to study this past week, even though we did not have classes because it is “reading week” at the University of San Diego, which FST is now a member of. But with the transition Home of my brother and wanting to spend time with my dad and other family members, I took most of the week ‘off’ for that purpose. Got home yesterday afternoon. And so today I begin truly studying in earnest. Test is due on Thursday of next week but I hope to open the test on Sunday afternoon, after studying today and tomorrow and a bit after church on Sunday. It’s no more than 2 hours, according to our professor, Father Mike. As I said, we are on the honor system. So no peeking and no working longer than 2 hours. As he said, “we’re all mature adults and Christians” so he is counting on us to follow the rules!
I have carried around my trifold exam since a week ago Thursday and am waiting for another couple of days, when I’m ready to take the test, to open her up. In the mean time, I have had moments in the past week or so to contemplate what we’ve learned about in the course. We spent close to 5 weeks talking about the history of the (recorded) world and archeology. We have looked at other cultures in the region of the world where the Canaanites originated – Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, etc. It’s been fascinating. Finally, during that 5th class (it’s a 3 hour long class, once a week), we cracked open our Bibles! And we began studying Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, though not, we learned, the first book to be written. Genesis, though, means “Beginnings” and it does deal with early beliefs in God’s role as Creator.
I thought I knew a little bit about Genesis. I did know very little. It’s been a fascinating course and I am grateful for just personal, spiritual growth that I’m in this class. I would say, though, that’s true of all my courses. No education is wasted. And, even if I never finish the degree, I will have learned much that informs my beliefs and my faith in God. It’s too much to go into here. Let’s just say we have a beautiful history, the world has a beautiful, Salvation History. It’s a tragedy that more people don’t know about it at all.
One thing I’ve been reminded of is that it’s my job, as one who does know and believe, to share that Salvation story with others. As one who has a strong belief in the need for each generation to share tradition with the next, I see clearly that’s what we must do with our faith, too. That’s why Jesus tells His Apostle’s before He ascends, “Go, make disciples of all nations.” Though many in the past went about that in a clumsy way, their hearts were in the right place. They were trying to obey the command of their Fearless Leader. I mean that in the truest, purest sense of that phrase. And the first followers were, with the power of the Holy Spirit, made into fearless people, too. So were many who came after them.
But the reason the following generations were fearless people of faith, willing to be persecuted and to die for Christ and His message, is because they had been taught. If we see so many people, too many people, today who are lost and confused, angry or despairing about their life and the state of the world, it’s because they have not been taught. No one has told them the Truth, or the Way and the Life, either! That’s Jesus! It’s important to tell people WHY we believe what we believe. It’s not a small or insignificant thing. It’s everything, actually.
I’m going to figure out how God wants me to do that, what that looks like, in the coming days. That means lots of prayer and also moving out to say and do something while I wait for an answer. While I await my orders. We are all Soldiers in the Army of the Lord as believers. And our Great, High Commander has a Plan. He’s the Grand Strategist and we are wise to listen to what He tells us to do. If you believe in the Triune God, maybe you can ask God, too. That’s just prayer. And then…expect an answer! I know you’ve read that here before, if you follow my blog and actually read it! God is speaking to you. He made us for communion with one another, and crucially, with Him! So, please prayerfully ask what God wants you to do.
I know it starts with Love. That’s the easy part. Easy? Yes! Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light! If we take the Holy Spirit in, we have God’s power, peace, and love within us. That leads to mercy and justice and patience and…everything good, beautiful, and true. So, let us pray. And let us move out! An Army doesn’t take a hill or defeat an enemy by staying in one spot. Armies mobilize and strive to take over ground while subduing their enemies. The difference with Christians is, we want to win over our enemies by loving them! By our mercy and the grace of God we defeat them. Then they join our side and our numbers keep growing! It’s a wonderful thing to contemplate.
Let us pray and let us keep moving forward. And let’s listen! Sometimes God speaks in big, unmistakeable ways. But often it is in small, quiet, humble modes. You’ve got to pay attention. Once again, that advice is as much for me as it is for you! God bless us with His strength and peace, His life giving ways, His love of everyone and a love for justice and mercy. We can only get there with His grace and we only get that if we give up control to God through the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. We’re waiting for you, Holy Spirit! Come on down!