November 11, 2011
Author’s Note: Journeys are strange. You hardly ever end up where you thought you would, and you definitely never get there in the manner that you conceived. That has been as true for me as it was for Jonah the morning he woke up to take a leisurely cruise to Tarshish. Over the next few weeks I will be writing a series of blog posts exploring how I came to and through seminary. It’s a strange tale with no straight lines. But it’s my story, and it is the path that the Lord has led our family down. It’s not idyllic. I hope that encourages you. Also, in case you just joined the conversation, the beginning of the series can be found here.
So there I was. I had a wife and a baby and I had just quit the only job that I had ever known. What now? Although I had attended college at a major Division I university (TCU), I was from a very small town in the mountains and wasn’t sure how to get where I wanted to go. In some ways I was not even sure where to go. Beyond that, there were not many people with the right knowledge and experience to help me. My tradition did not encourage graduate-level education and no one in my family had ever attended either a graduate school of religion or a seminary. So, I spent a few months working on a construction job for a friend of mine and tried to clear my head…and my soul.
And then God decided that it was time.
An acquaintance from Young Life offered me a job. It was a full-time position, but if I would put in the work, they would pay for my first seven seminary courses. Because of the status of our growing family I was looking for way to go to school while still working to support our family. Since I already had training in youth work, and at the time that is what I felt called to spend my life doing, this was an ideal situation for me. After praying about it, my wife and I agreed that this was the opportunity for which our family had been looking. So we sold our home, packed up what little we had, and moved across Wolf Creek Pass to Alamosa, CO, where our second daughter would soon be born.
And that’s how I ended up studying at Fuller Theological Seminary’s Colorado Springs Campus (yes, I know, I’m now at Gordon-Conwell. That stage is coming soon).
Ten years ago, through a muddy mess – particularly in my soul – I took my first course through Young Life’s agreement with Fuller Theological Seminary: The Life of Jesus, with Prof. Dale Bruner. Those hours sitting in class with Prof. Bruner were like turtle cheesecake for my soul. Seriously. It’s a great thing when God meets a desire in our souls in a way that is more abundant than we had previously hoped. Every day as Dr. Bruner would skillfully walk us through each chapter of the Book of John it felt as if the Mississippi River was being released onto the Sahara Desert of my soul.
Over the next two years I was able to take some incredible courses – Theology and Film, Adolescent Psychology, Mentored Ministry, and more. The time spent studying and thinking in those courses confirmed that I was exactly where I should be – engaging God in a way that included my mind.
There was a certain ineffable joy in the entire experience.
This was the first step in a long series of events that have brought me to where I am now. But it was not the only step. In my next post, I will explain how I ended up at Gordon-Conwell’s Charlotte, NC campus, and eventually at the campus here in Hamilton, MA.
Brian has an M.Div. (2010) from Gordon-Conwell’s Charlotte campus, a Th.M. (2011) in Historical Theology from the South Hamilton campus, and is currently strengthening his language skills while in the MACH program. He hopes to matriculate into a doctoral program in August 2012 that will allow him to continue in his study of the thought of Augustine of Hippo. He has a wonderful wife, three great children, and spent ten years in ministry to teenagers, primarily with Young Life International.
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