Friday, April 25, 2008

A Journey Ending

In the summer of 2001, we moved to Louisville so that Wes could attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It's been many years of being challenged spiritually to grow and learn. At the same time, it felt like a never ending that seemed to go on year after year. And while we loved the seminary and Wes so enjoyed sitting under the teachings of such Godly men, we were feeling restless. Part of it was me ready to get back to school myself, and part of it was Wes ready to be done with school, period. Southern is known for academically challenging work, and the Masters of Divinity program, which Wes is in, is roughly 90 hours...compared to a roughly 30 hour program a typical school offers for a master's. It's not uncommon to hear laughter when a first year student comes in wearing rose colored glasses saying that he plans to finish school in 3 years. All in good fun, of course, but there's also a sense of "yeah, that's what we said too."

It had been a while since I had attended the seminary's chapel service. I had regularly attended when we still lived on campus, but since we've lived off campus, it's made it difficult to get over there. Wes works on Tuesdays and Thursdays (chapel days), and I wasn't going to walk during the winter and I needed to save my bus money for getting to work. But today was perfect. I had the day off, the weather was warm and beautiful, so I got up, got ready, and walked to chapel. I spotted some friends from church who are also seminary students and sat with them. There was such an awesome feeling of familiarity as we sang and worshiped our Lord. How I love going to the chapel service!! So while we were singing, I thought to myself, "I need to check my work schedule next week and try to come on over again." Then Dr. Mohler, the seminary president, announced it was the last service of the semester. I was stunned. I mean, I wasn't stunned that it was the last service of the's April 24th! But what stunned me was the date's April 24th!!

Wes graduates in 3 weeks. How the heck did time go by so quickly? After years of wondering whether we'd ever see a light at the end of the tunnel, we are now just about out of the tunnel and I'm sitting here thinking, "wait!" Don't get me wrong, I'm really excited about our upcoming move. But for the last 7 years, the seminary has been our home. How odd to think that we'll rarely see it any more after Wes graduates.

It blessed me to sit through chapel service and to be a part of it again. It saddened me to know it was the last one I'd be at and saddened me even more that Wes couldn't be there with me. After chapel, I walked to the cafeteria to grab some lunch. Wes and I used to eat there often when we still lived on campus...and some of my favorite moments were when I had class and would head over for an occasional early morning breakfast. After lunch, I walk to the seminary lawn and sat with my shoes off, enjoying the day and the sights. Soon after, I got up and walked back home.

I am not who I was 7 years ago when we began this journey...I barely recognize that person. And for that matter, Wes isn't the same person either. Being at the seminary has helped us grow as individuals, as a couple, and as followers of Christ. And while I spent a good amount of time telling Wes how nice and warm Florida is compared to Louisville throughout our 7 years, I really wouldn't have traded our time here. We love this seminary. Like a parent raises their child to one day say "go, it's now time to be an adult," so the seminary is now telling us "go, it's time to carry on your ministry." And funny how like I child I am, after so many years of saying "I can't wait to go," that I'm now clinging on and crying "but I'm not ready! We're just kids!!" But we're not kids, are we? Of course not. People always talk about the "real world" and how hard it is...sometimes it feels like that plus a hundred fold when it comes to the ministry's "real world." Fellow ministers and their families surely understand. So on one hand, I feel wide eyed and hopeful for the future. On the other hand, I'm like a scared kid asking "what now?" It's a weird feeling. But it's time. It's time to go in the confidence that God has laid out the path for us.

Seven years. I feel so blessed that God chose us to be a part of this incredible journey.

Alumni Chapel, SBTS


Jules~ said...

I can tell that you will walk away with treasured memories in your hearts. Change is always so hard. The unknown holds twinges of fear and lets the familiar be such a hug. That is why God hugs us and urges onward.
As I read your post, it reminded me of when we helped to start a church a few years ago. The church we were at...we had envisioned ourselves growing old there, but God had other plans. As those plans formed, He made our perspectives change and that we could move into the new adventure of church planting. During that time, we often likened it to when a parent bird is preparing their offspring to fly. The parent removes the layers of downy cushion to make the nest uncomfortable. Otherwise the baby bird would never feel brave enough to leave the familiar.

I don't know what God has in store for you and Wes, but I have a feeling that you are stepping out of your nest with a complete trust to embrace the new.

Mary said...

Jules, girl, you are such a blessing to me. You have such sweet words of encouragement that quench a thirsty soul! I so appreciate you! :)

david mcmahon said...

An amazing journey for you and Wes - in every sense of the word, Mary.

kelly ann said...

What is so exciting about your journey that is ending is that you start a new one. God prepares us in so many differant ways to walk in our destiny, this season that is coming to an end is one of those ways. So now as you learn to trust in Him who leads you can go forth knowing He is there the whole way. Another chapter in the book of your life is beginning. Run into it with great anticipation!