I’m sitting in an overstuffed chair in the corner of a coffee shop here at Biola. The papers are all written, the final exams all taken, and I’m just walking through the motions of the day. Today is my last day of school. Ever. On Friday, I’ll don a cap, walk a line, shake a hand, and I will be a Master of Theology, and I will never be in another classroom again. No more term papers. No more assigned reading. No more all-night study sessions. I’m done.
It’s odd to me how important this task of completion has become. After so many false starts and dropped semesters, to be able to put a capstone on the project and a flag in the ground seems important. To have a point from which to look back and say, “I’ve done this thing, and it has changed me in subtle and important ways, and it’s completed in some important way” seems significant to me.
There are some things I will not miss. I will not miss having to read through 1200 pages on a subject that I can’t connect with the real world in any substantive way. I will not miss group projects with people who don’t pull their own weight. I won’t miss losing out on time with friends because of a paper that has to be finished. I won’t miss spending 3 months and hundreds of hours on a subject, only to emerge and feel like I’m no closer to understanding my own mind on it, and that nobody else out there is really any closer to understanding it than I am (read anything on eschatology to see what I mean). I won’t miss some students (by far the minority!) who approach theology with a high-minded arrogance that belies the humble posture of the giants who have walked this ground before them.
But there are many more things that I will miss. I will miss the special fraternity that grows up around the difficult task of understanding hard truths. I will miss the community of joy that develops around long work toward a common purpose. I will miss teachers who don’t hold their academic chairs as noble fiefdoms and their class lectures as necessary evils, but who see themselves as curators of the wondrous mysteries of God, eager to install them as works in a broad gallery of world-altering importance. I will miss reading books out of necessity, only to be caught up in them with wild abandon. I will miss the unique community of Talbot, which holds to learning in the service of spiritual formation, and praxis as the indefatigable proof of knowledge. You can’t appreciate what a rare and blessed place this is until you’ve spent time walking these halls, sitting with these men and women, listening to the humble spirit that pervades the conversations, reveling in the joyous embrace with which these people seize upon God’s project in the world, his unfolding Kingdom.
I am blessed for having been here.
And, as I am constantly reminded by all of my professors, it is not for my sake that I have been blessed here. Gifts given are given for the sake of the body of Christ, for His glory, and toward his project.
Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatum,
Ad limina apostolorum,
Ad majorem dei gloriam.