Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding Love in Strange Places

A few brief years ago, I graduated from a local seminary with a Master’s degree. Believe me, with my aging mind, it was quite the accomplishment. While I felt honored that the Lord had blessed me with this higher education, at the same time, I was often exhausted and anxious at the hectic pace of life.

I recall it taking me three weeks to actually reconcile myself to what I knew had taken place; that my education had been completed. As crazy as that may sound, it is not unusual. I heard this from my husband as well.

While at seminary, I learned a great deal about many subjects. I studied church history, counseling, hermeneutics, philosophy, theology, and missions, to name just a few. But the head knowledge was only a part of the reason I was at seminary.

I know now that the Lord’s plans for me were not to merely educate my mind, but to influence my heart.

My heart had become so hardened because of life’s experiences; I was in need of refreshment. The only way I would receive this refreshment would be to dive in to the Word of God and really get to know him….

….to honestly study his Word in more depth, and to know his heart.

This didn’t happen while I studied at seminary, but in the months following. It was during this time I found I was tested, tempted, and tried numerous times. I failed, I succeeded, I was ready to give up on many occasions. But, in the end I can honestly admit that had it not been for my time in seminary, I may not have understood enough to allow the Lord to continue to heal me. I may not have understood enough to forgive, to love, to stop being offended, and to overlook so much of the ugliness from my past.

I never would have thought seminary would have been the place to learn this. Often, there were times when I was so distraught at seminary, I felt as if I was falling away instead of growing at all. And I probably was, many times. There were days!

But, all in all, I have learned that my time at seminary allowed the Lord to reach into my heart. He took the books, the lectures, the papers, the exams, the research, the professors, fellow students, the late nights, the grueling days…he took it all, and used it to ultimately open my heart towards him….

…which, in turn, opened my heart towards others.

I say these things because I want to share the following with you:

Head knowledge is wonderful and worthy, but if it does not reach the heart, it is limited in its usefulness. Always remember, the foundation of Jesus’ message to us is to love.

I return once again to the familiar Scripture passage I have quoted on my blog before:
1 Corinthians 13: 1-2: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

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