I have been quiet on the blog front this summer. Truth be told, I was burned out from trying too hard, trying to do too much, and my heart was hurting from the passing of three friends over the course of the last year. This summer has been a season of healing as I chose to spend time with beloved family and friends who help me to keep my eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He always meets me right where I am, providing love, encouragement, correction and guidance from those around me. This time, He did so as I enjoyed some time off over the summer.
School starts this Monday. This will be my third semester toward the completion of a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics (non-thesis).
One of the strangest discoveries I made in my first term last fall is that a book I “mostly read” in French during my undergraduate studies, Blaise Pascal’s Les Pensées, is actually considered an apologetic work, albeit incomplete. It would seem this lone Christian voice was drowned out in my head then by the likes of Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett and Molière, all required reading for my bachelor’s degree. In learning about Pascal’s beliefs, I have been in awe of how God led me back to the place where I jumped off the rails as it relates to the faith I was first introduced to as a child. I am planning on rereading Les Pensées soon in its entirety to see how my perspective has changed.
This semester will prove to be challenging as I am taking four classes in addition to working two part-time jobs. In the class Faith and Reason, my hope is to understand why the modern mind perceives faith as “blind” thereby rejecting it, rather than using a God-given intellect to develop a reasoned faith. The second class in the first term is Miracles. Some argue that because miracles by definition are outside the laws of nature, they are not in the realm of possibility because there is nothing (and consequently no one) outside of nature. The second term starts off with a class on Evil, Suffering and Hell, harsh realities that when broached in broader conversation, can put an immediate damper on things. We prefer to speak about angels, heaven or desirable blessings. The final class, The Old Testament and Apologetics, will help me to understand historical and contemporary criticism of the ancient texts and how to respond to criticisms and speak to the truths in these texts.
The academic program is intense, both intellectually and emotionally, and there have been times when even attending classes part-time, I couldn’t breathe under the pressure of deadlines. Those are pressures that I put on myself, but God has been equipping me as I pursue this degree. It has been an incredible experience as I have been gaining more knowledge in the Christian faith along with trust in God’s character. I have a better understanding of why I believe what I believe, and of the hope that I have in Christ. I invite you to start examining the evidence for yourself. As you do, if your experience is anything like mine, you will enter into an awesome journey filled with joy, adventure, and love. You might even meet some great people along the way!
Perhaps I can share some of what I research and write here on this blog. In this moment, going to school full-time feels like a somewhat daunting task. As with any large project, the plan is to take one step at a time, in trust and obedience, until it is finished. I know I do not do this in my own strength.
As I look ahead to the fall semester, I am reminded of the need for patience, discernment and wisdom. I need to trust that God’s provision and timing are always perfect. And I must accept the fact that His timing in the completion of this degree may not be the same as my own. In fact, it may not even be part of His provision for the purpose He has for me. Staying the course right now will mean a May 2020 completion date. While I am looking forward to that day with great anticipation, I plan to enjoy each and every moment of this journey. Regardless of what comes my way, I choose to trust in God’s plan and purpose for my life in all things.
Since the start of classes last fall, my go-to verse for academic studies has been Isaiah 50:7, “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” I did not select this verse; it selected me. It somehow became bookmarked on my MacBook, and the verse displays every time I access Safari. I have no idea how this happened, but I am grateful for these words as I am for the continued encouragement provided by my professors, family and friends.
As I write this, the words that are top of mind are what my dad would say when I was a child and about to embark on a new adventure: “Go get ‘em tiger!”
I am praying for the strength, courage and stamina to do just that.