Forty-Something and Back to School

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

I’ve been a registered student for over half my life and I believe I’ve more than done my time.  After two engineering degrees, I feel like I earned my leave from the academic world. Never again would I be shackled to the unceasing grind of classes, lab work, projects, homework, presentations, essays, quizzes, exams, and all-nighters.  I’d been dreaming of that day since the third grade.  And there I stood, finally free.

So imagine my predicament to finding myself on the threshold of returning to school.  My leave from the academic world amounted to little more than a furlough.  I must be nuts.  Not just nuts, certifiably nuts.  I’m a full-time husband to a wonderful wife, full-time father to four rowdy little boys, and a full-time professional in the corporate world.  Add in my participation in a local church plant and I’m a pretty busy guy.  So what gives?

Why the Change of Heart?

I guess this conundrum is rooted in events that started about four years ago.  It was then that quite frankly, I just gave up.  I gave up trying to live my life by my rules.  I gave up living to work.  I gave up on charting my own course and creating my own destiny.  I gave up trying to accomplish something I knew I never could.  I gave up trying to be somebody I could never be.

Sensing the futility of it all, I came to the point where I just said, “OK God, I give up.  I’m done running.”  I finally realized the story of my life was not a story that I was writing, it was a story my Lord had already written.  I lived in rebellion long enough, maintaining the faintest façade of religiosity to merely deceive myself.  Vanity of Vanities!  All is vanity.  But by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone and drawn to repentance for my sins, I humbly submitted to my Lord.

Things definitely began to change in my life.  Not all at once, but steadily and consistently.  I began spending a lot of time in God’s Word, reading a lot of books, and listening to a lot of solid preachers and teachers online.

My entire worldview changed.  I still had no shortage of problems in my life, I just began seeing everything through a Christ-centered lens.  Only one small hiccup persisted.  I was being rather introverted about my spiritual growth.  A wonderful and dear friend mentored me on my journey, but it was hard for me to be open about my faith.  I don’t know it if it was out of fear … OK, yeah, sharing my faith was a terrifying prospect.

But slowly I began opening up to anyone and then everyone around me about my faith.  Not in an ‘in your face’ kind of way, but in God-centered worldview kind of way.  God provided many opportunities for me to share the gospel with many different people in the course of my everyday life.

Sure, to some people I became “that guy”.  But that’s OK.  The only person I aim to please now is God.  My fear of being open about my faith quickly gave way to an entirely different kind of fear.  Am I certain that I’m accurately handling and sharing the gospel?  And that brings me back to the whole school thing.

Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

To be perfectly honest, I never even gave a fleeting thought to going back to school, let alone seminary.  It was the people around me who began scattering seeds of thought that this might what the Lord was leading me to do.  So, I earnestly put it to God in prayer.  Not long afterward, that little seed of an idea (that I never considered myself) grew into a giant tree filling my conscious thoughts.

Where Does that Leave Me?

I had lots of questions at that point, but I figured I’d just break it down like I normally do.  Plan, research, and apply and then see where that gets me.  I figured, I spent 2-3 hours or more a day reading, studying, or praying, so I could make a structured educational program fit into my schedule.  I just needed to trust in God that he would confirm this decision.

The Journey Begins … Again …

In prayer and with humility, I committed to a program at Dallas Theological Seminary after I applied and was accepted.

Almost immediately afterward, I thought, “Oh no, what have I done?”  I started having flashbacks of late night study sessions, bruising essays, humiliating exams, regimented schedules, and all that fun stuff I thought I left in the past.  Once the panic attack passed I found that I’m actually kind of excited, but I’m also a little nervous.  Can I really do this?  Well, probably not.  At least not on my own.  But God brought me this far for a reason and in success or failure, I’m ready to serve Him the best I can as I continue to grow spiritually.

So it’s time to sharpen my pencils because I’m going back to school.

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