Gordon-Conwell Blog

The Final Year: Trouble Focusing and the Need for a Jedi Master

January 20, 2012


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, Part 1 can be found here; Part 2 can be found here; Part 3 can be found here; Part 4 can be found here; Part 5 can be found here; Part 6 can be found here. Part 7 can be found here; Part 8 can be found here.

Remember senioritis? It hits everyone at some point during your final year of high school. For some people, it even starts in your junior year. But then you go to college and you are mature. You live on your own, you do your own laundry, you go to bed when you like and you eat what you like. Yet, when your senior year of college arrives, there it is again – dwelling in your being like a severe case of cabin fever for six straight months. You can’t think, you can’t focus, and that final exam just doesn’t seem as important as it did the year before. At times like these you need a Jedi master to sit down with you and say: “Discipline, young padawan. Be mindful of the present.”

The final year of my Master of Divinity, I was in my early thirties and had been in the work force for nearly a decade. So, I was completely blind-sided when senioritis hit me during the Fall semester of my final year in seminary. Yep, I suppose you’re never too mature for this plague upon students. Every time I sat down to read, a flock of thought-mosquitos would begin to buzz around in my brain (yes, I just made that word up… ‘thought-mosquitos’). Where would our family be next year? What would we be doing? Where would we live? On top of that, to help save money since I was no longer working, I studied during the days while also watching our youngest child. So, the few times that I was able to swat all of the mosquitos away, I would just begin to focus when a small cry would rise up and a bottle would need to be made. It was crazy. Yet somehow I made it through. And you can, too. How?

I needed a Jedi, as well. Someone tall, yet calm, with a beard. And an Irish accent (Yes, I love Liam Neeson). I needed him to sit down with me and remind me to be mindful of the present. But, unfortunately for us all, Jedis and midichlorians don’t really exist in our world. So, I had to look elsewhere. And I found my counsel in Scripture:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Yes, I know that this is not spoken to each of us as individual Christians. This is something that God said to the surviving elders of the Israelite exiles. But it tells us of the type of God that we have. One that has a plan for us. One that has an eternal plan to prosper us and not to harm us. So I took that step – that hardest of steps for people like me – and I decided to stop worrying about my future. I set aside time to think about it, but then I entrusted it to God, knowing that he has a plan, and I was able to study. Indeed, it can be said that the Scriptures were my Jedi. And it can also be said that trusting God with my future was my mosquito spray.

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.

Tags: Author: Brian , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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