July 19, 2012
This is part 2 of Tim's series on his journey to seminary. You can read part 1 here.
So there I was, confronted by the choice to either ignore God and pursue music theatre or obey and give it up. I was not a happy camper. After I got over my prideful pity party, I obeyed and took an internship with a campus ministry. It wasn’t comfortable. Only this time it wasn’t physical discomfort; it was spiritual. Obeying God and following him into ministry required the death of a lot of my pride. I wanted to make it in show business, man! But, God was calling me elsewhere. Obedience wasn’t comfortable.
Round three. Seminary. Somehow, I had built the expectation that seminary was going to be academically intense, but more-or-less…you guessed it…comfortable. I mean come on, how bad can three years of studying the Bible be? I’m basically going on a three-year retreat. Those things are NEVER uncomfortable. Right? OK fine, change is a little unsettling. But that’s it. Once I get through that, I’m golden. Yea. Not so much.
Once the novelty of a new home, new degree, new everything wore off, God allowed the real discomfort of seminary to set in. And I was blindsided by it. Coming into an environment of solid, healthy Christian community, I realized that I had lived most of my life in survival mode. I gritted my teeth through the good, bad, ugly, and painful moments of life and just kept plowing through. Imagine a soldier on the battlefield: When the war is raging, you don’t have time to be injured. You wrap your wound and keep fighting, unaware of how bad it really is. Only when you get into the sterile, safe environment of a hospital can you expose your wounds and deal with them properly. Seminary was like this for me. It continues to be like this for me. I had issues that I didn’t even know about and God began to expose them and invite me to deal with them once I came to seminary. Several of my friends here have gone through similar experiences and none of us found it very comfortable.
But ya know what? Looking back, I’ve come to realize that it is the uncomfortable moments of life that have been the most important. It is to such times of discomfort that I can look and measure my growth as a Christian. The Bible offers countless stories like this. Abraham wasn’t comfortable when God called him to sacrifice Isaac. Moses wasn’t terribly comfortable confronting Pharaoh at first. Jesus most assuredly wasn’t comfortable when faced with his crucifixion. The calling of God is more important than our comfort.
What uncomfortable situations have you been in? Are you in one now? To be sure, not all discomfort falls into the category that I’m talking about, but maybe yours does. Maybe God is calling you to do, say, or pursue something that isn’t very comfortable. Maybe God is calling you to NOT do, say, or pursue something – that’s usually more uncomfortable. It might not be anything huge like a career shift. Maybe God is prompting you to take a friend to lunch, to open up to a mentor, confess a sin, or set aside a consistent time of prayer. Regardless, obedience doesn’t always feel like a warm hug surrounded by springtime and roses. Sometimes it’s about as comfortable as wearing tights for six hours past “too long”. But it’s always for the best.
And that, my friends, is why I appreciate tights. They aren’t comfortable and I’m VERY grateful I don’t have to wear them anymore. (Seriously – so grateful.) But, they were my first lesson in obedience through discomfort, a lesson I will never forget.
Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.