March 13, 2012
I never imagined that I’d call New England home, and yet this morning I am here. The sun greets me by melting the frost gathered like crystals in the corners of my windowpane and casts shadows from the birch trees onto my bed. A few weeks ago, the scene was different—I had a job and friends and a loft situated in the heart of a concrete jungle. Now I am living on the campus of a seminary, which is as foreign to me as taking up residence at a convent.
I remember the day my husband told me he wanted to quit his career as a motion graphic designer and go to seminary. We were on an afternoon stroll through the park behind our street. The heat lingering over the sidewalk rivaled the stagnancy of our marriage. Not seeing eye to eye was new to us, and the summer had felt like a disaster. Seminary, I said, us? I fumbled over the words strung together, but I sensed that my husband was right.
We were both frustrated with detaching our Sundays from the workweek—Christian one day and ordinary members of society another. Sure, we read our Bibles, a lot in fact. We engaged in ministry and attended small groups. We prayed together and occasionally brought food to the homeless and jobless on our street. Still, something was missing, and its gaping hole was growing wider.
We had assembled our lives like giant puzzle pieces, arranging the God-piece where we thought it fit. Our foundation was in Christ, yes, but the rest of our puzzle created a picture of us. How do I want to follow Jesus? What does God want me to do? These questions were legitimate, but through trying to serve God on our terms, we were only serving ourselves.
In his book Radical, writer David Platt says that if you ask the average American Christian to summarize the message of his or her faith, the response will go something like this: God loves me enough to send His Son Jesus to die for me. Sounds good, right? But that’s not all, Platt argues. “The message of biblical Christianity is not ‘God loves me, period,’ as if we were the object of our own faith,” he writes. That account of the Christian narrative stops short of the full story. Instead, the message of Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make Him—His ways, His salvation, His glory, and His greatness—known among all nations.”
God loves me so that I can make His name known. How simple of a truth. I am not the end of the gospel, God is. And yet how often do I need to be reminded that all of my puzzle pieces should reflect the glory of Christ Jesus.
My husband and I are not the first people to have uprooted our life to attend seminary. We are not special in that sense. Nearly every family in our new home has experienced some sort of reckoning, either by leaving a job or church or simply abandoning their plans at the feet of Jesus. I pray, though, that as my husband and I enter into community and classes and begin to reshape our life around God’s word, that we would do so in the crux of the gospel truth. Every circumstance in my life up until this very moment has occurred to make His name known. That is my story. It is my husband’s story, and it is yours.
Sometimes I’m prone to think that the writers of scripture wrestled with different questions than I. Surely the fathers of our faith weren’t surrounded with uncertainty about their direction or purpose! And then I page through their words and discover that they were often just as lost. Though there are many stories of encouragement in the scriptures, I find Isaiah’s particularly pertinent to my current season of life. In Isaiah 6, God is holding court with His angels. They are in intense discussion. “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah overhears God (6:8).
Notice that God did not single out Isaiah and beg—His will illuminated in flashing lights—or even charge Isaiah with the call to go. Isaiah is privy to God’s heavenly conversation because he is still and quiet and found in prayer. “Whether or not [we] hear God’s call depends on the state of [our] ears,” Oswald Chambers says.
Lend an attentive ear to the throne. What plans does God have in the works? Are you willing to say, here I am Lord, send me? The gospel, after all, does not end with you or me. It ends with Christ, His name glorified.
Are you listening?
—The Seminary Wife
Jessica Haberkern is a creative writer and violinist once local to Atlanta. She teaches writing for Ashford University’s online program and writes for The Oxford American, In Touch, and Scoutmob, among other publications. She chronicles her and [her uber cool] husband’s eats + beats on their blog, thehaberkerns.tumblr.com.