So Today was "New Student Orientation" at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. I had to wake up bright and early, or rather dark and early because it was definitely before sun up, to journey south to Dallas. I was prepared to learn about how things were going to work with my schedule and classes as well as learning all about campus resources to make sure that I can get the most out of my seminary experience.
I learned a bit about all of those things, and especially about the "The Call" from Herbert Coleman specifically. I learned that I need to make sure I have a light breakfast on days when I have the opportunity to eat lunch at Perkins because the chef is amazing! We had a great lunch of wild rice and chicken breast in a rosemary sauce that quickly revealed my gluttonous side.
But for me today was more about fear
Understand that the process for me ending up in seminary is quite a long one. I have had an inkling that I was supposed to attend Perkins as early in my life as my freshman year of college. At one point the thought was to go immediately after undergrad, at another it was to not go at all, and at another point this was exactly the plan to start in the fall of 13. I then distracted myself and again tried to ignore that for me to fulfill my calling Perkins was in my future.
October of 2012 I officially declared as a candidate for ministry in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. The call became overwhelming and the tugging on my heart to pursue that call was saying "Go Now!" There was an urgency behind it and I am still not sure why. So I hit the ground running and even in the midst of becoming a new dad and working full time, I managed to go from my pastors office that day in October all the way to a Certified Candidate by the District Committee on Ministry and admitted as a student to Perkins to start this fall. Certainly The Holy Spirit has had a hand in this, I on my own strength have been nothing but overwhelmed.
So here I am, enrolled in 2 classes, a total of 6 hours ready to get started on my Masters of Divinity understanding that seminary costs a lot of money, yet not wanting to take on any additional student loans. My wife and I have a combined income just high enough for there to not really be any "need based" financial aid. They seem to be overlooking what we still owe in student loans from my time at McMurry, and that we still owe around 5 grand for having a baby (we even had insurance). Speaking of insurance, those rates went through the roof to cover both George and Kim, and doesn't have much impact on the $72 charge for "weight checks" George has needed nearly every 2 weeks since he was born because he is only in the 1% for height and weight.
Could you read the anxiety about finances written between the lines in my last paragraph? Well it is there, not because we can't survive, but because my calling requires some really expensive school. $5,066 bucks for 6 credit hours to be exact, and that is not counting parking passes, gas for commuting, or books. In the past if we got tight on money I would just pick up extra work, but at the moment I am pretty pressed for time as it is wondering if we can handle both Kim and I working full time, me going to school, and us doing our best to raise George.
Today my anxiety went all the way to full blown fear. The fear has some to do with the money and some to do with time. However, behind the money and the time lies the reality that it is time to do the heavy lifting. It is time to actually take the classes, work the job, and raise the kid all at the same time. So the question that I fear is not can I afford it, or do I have the time, but rather "Am I good enough?" That question is persuaded and influenced by time, money, my past, and other people who will from time to time make unknowing comments of judgement and condemnation.
I keep telling myself that God will provide and focusing in conversation about my fears on the financial side of things. I KNOW
that to be true with the experiences of my life so far, when you live as if life is not about money God takes care of it in one way or another. Heck, I took an 18% pay cut from one job in ministry to another by following where God was leading me, and it has turned out to be an amazing experience that has enriched my life in so many ways. So knowing that God will provide is not an issue, but in times like today, when I can't see how God is going to pull off yet another miracle I have trouble trusting that he can do it.
Trusting that God can do something. Now that is crazy. God only made the world in 7 days and still had time to take a day off! Christ conquered even death.
If God can do anything, if God can provide, if God can have enough time, if God has called me to this, It is time for me to live out the Trust part. Because in my weakness God's glory is displayed. Because trusting God can, trusting that God is good, trusting that God has a plan... That is what the Kingdom of God looks like.
All we have to do is faithfully put one foot in front of the other, walking by faith and not by sight. One step at a time, one day at a time.
I have to let God fill in the gaps where I have and will continue to fall short.
I was faced today with a number that brought me to tears. $891.55 the amount of money I will need to pay each month for 4 months to pay for this semester after Financial Aid from the North Texas Conference is applied.
I trust that praying is more fruitful than worrying.
SMU has this link I am going to put here that allows people to make contributions directly towards a students bill anonymously. Click Here
if your feeling compelled to help out.
"God being with us isn't just an existential saying, we can see that he is with us through the lives of those around us" - Tom (the president of PSA... I can't remember his last name)
As Always thanks for your
time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can
do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life
in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will
always remember Jeremiah 29:11. – For I know the plans I have for you
declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for