these earthly kingdoms built of sand.

i’ve heard it said that repetition increases learning and understanding…which is probably why teachers tend to emphasize and repeat the most significant facts and things to remember in the courses you take. well, in the course of my life, God’s repeating a lesson, over and over…and maybe i’m finally starting to “get it.”

i’m in seminary. i don’t have a whole lot of worldly possessions. most of my furniture is secondhand, my car is eleven years old, and i routinely use coupons at publix and get my hair cut at a beauty school to save money. i’ll probably never own a nice vehicle, or live in a large house, because as a minister, you just don’t make that kind of money.  despite my complaining, deep down i’m really okay with that because money isn’t that important to me.

along with money, as a seminary student i just don’t have a lot of spare time. i work a lot. i study a lot. i read a lot of books. it’s not as if i have a lot of spare time to waste playing video games or spending hours on youtube or creating a sims world.

…and as a seminary student, i’ve gotten really comfortable. not comfortable with my life here (though life in birmingham is wonderful), but comfortable–and even, complacent–in my walk with Christ.  it’s so easy to be so “busy” all the time that i don’t spend the time i should in prayer, in reading the Word, in meditation, in the stillness. and when there are opportunities for prayer, reading the Word, meditation, stillness–often i fill those with noise and busy-ness instead. i turn on the radio, check facebook, watch TV, relax, and try to justify it by telling myself that i need a break from thinking.

it’s so easy to tell myself that i’m in seminary, and because i’m in seminary, obviously i’m not living “for the american dream” and squandering my time and resources for something other than the kingdom. yet i’ve been so blessed and give back so little, and sometimes resent my calling because it means that my life is not going to look like the american dream.  i spend so much time doing, thinking about, worrying about, and focusing on things that have little eternal significance.

i don’t want to waste my life.  how different would things look if i put more energy into what really matters and less into the things that are rubbish?  if i saw seminary as not simply another endless two-and-a-half years of study but truly a ministry preparation, and a time of growth? if i focused on and remembered my calling, instead of lamenting about the things i’m leaving behind by pursuing the ministry?

so i’m sitting. and being still. and remembering. i’m remembering how it felt to love on little kids in carroll park in west philadelphia, and how all that was wrong with the world seemed right on thursday afternoons. walking freedom trail in boston and seeing beauty and hurt and suffering and pain, and being completely overwhelmed by the circumstances and yet in awe of the vastness of God, and his calling, and our responsibility. getting out of the car every thursday afternoon in a dusty trailer park in northeast columbia and teaching kids scripture and memory verses and living life with the people i served with…

but more than that, i’m remembering why did i all these things, and why i’m in seminary. because i love service, and i love justice and mercy and grace. and i love seeing people realize that God’s love for them is neverending and unchanging–so unlike how we love one another. and because at one point in my life, i was broken and shattered and alone, and God picked me up and made something beautiful out of the ashes of my life…though i deserved nothing, he gave me everything.

…and because of this, it should be easy to fling the cares of the world aside, and focus on things that really matter. growth, and listening, and prayer, and waiting, and serving, and loving, as i rejoice in God’s calling on my life.

i want to put my hand on the plow and not look back.

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