Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running the hurdles

Jump the hurdle. Pause. Run. Jump. Pause. Run. Jump.

Can you imagine an Olympic hurdler taking a break after each jump? Nope. Neither can I. Some of our dear friends from Cambridge are Olympians in scholarly research. Every day they plug away, morning to night, examining the scriptures and studying the latest findings.

I'll happily admit that I'm no Olympian. Yesterday, I safely negotiated one of the big hurdles toward a PhD, my tutorial comps. The committee allowed me an alternate to 12 hours of written exams, an oral "inquisition" defending an article summarizing the dissertation. (Inquisition was their term, and yes, it made us all laugh, and let me relax.) Once again, I'm appreciative of the scholarship of the profs at AGTS, where I'm in the Intercultural Studies program. The questions were not only thoughtful, but they pointed out flaws that are currently written into my dissertation. Lots to fix, that's for sure.

I feel like a plow-horse, let loose on a racetrack, leaping about with great joy, only to stagger past the finish line, gasping. And there are two more races to fun: completing the dissertation and defending it within the next month.

So I took a break yesterday, the Pause no Olympian would consider. My brain felt fried before and after the exam, so I thought it would be healthier going forward, to take a break. Kirsten and I strolled around Molbaks (she in the wheelchair), looking at all the beauty and surprises that plants and art can provide.

The Pause not only gives time to breathe, but it gives us time to reflect on what was accomplished. I fell into bed weary, but it took a while to think about God's generosity and kindness.
  • God called me to this program, and each step along the way, has given enough strength for the day. 
  • Words of encouragement came my way before and after the test. 
  • God answered the prayers of friends and family for good rest the night before. Thanks, everyone!
  • Though I was stressed, I sensed the committee cheering me on, as well as making sure I had information in hand. 
  • My chief adviser was kind enough to call within the hour with good news, too. Thanks, Dr. Self.
I don't know what the future holds. I don't know why I found this program, 3 weeks before it opened. The degree that was offered seemed to offer little practical application, though it matched my call. It's been one step at a time, the doors opening just as I reached them, including the addition of a degree that meant an extra year of study and more academic difficulty. I have no idea what job opening would fit my qualifications, though I'm closer to knowing what I'd like to do. It's all part of an ongoing adventure in faith and practice.

That's what my whole dissertation is about, actually. The women of the study show how a call to serve, empowered by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, leads us step by step. Ordinary women went to foreign countries with a vague idea of what they would do. But they ended up making huge contributions by doing unexpected jobs or attempting things they'd never dreamed of -- believing in the power of the Spirit for guidance and resources. God did amazing things through them. Miraculous things.

Where has God led you, that seemed a side path or unanticipated challenge? How does that enrich what he has called you to do today and in the future?

Read more:

"'Come, all of you who are gifted craftsmen. Construct everything that the LORD has commanded.' …

So the whole community of Israel left Moses and returned to their tents. All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the LORD. They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle, for the performance of its rituals, and for the sacred garments. Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing. They brought to the LORD their offerings of gold—brooches, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They presented gold objects of every kind as a special offering to the LORD." Exodus 35:10, 20–22

*Psalm 17:1-7; Genesis 26; Matthew 9:27-38

*The Lord will send his angel before you. Genesis 24:7

*The angel said to Peter, "Fasten your belt and put on your sandals." He did so. Acts 12:8

*I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every wayin all your speaking and in all your knowledgebecause our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.1 Corinthians 1:4-9   NIV

Moravian Prayer: Faithful God, when we feel the weakest, you become our strength. You send your presence through those who come to us - sometimes angels, sometimes each other. Thank you for the nearness we feel this day through your servants. Amen.

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