Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking back at 2015

At the beginning of this year, I made a decision that I would adopt a different attitude to my life. I determined that I would be more optimistic, more confident in myself, more willing to try something new, more encouraging. I determined that I would adopt the attitude of an athlete training for a competition: I had to believe in myself and to work hard, and to trust in God that things would work out as they ought to. Indeed, I was going to take seriously the maxim of St. Anthony, who said that all things happen to us as they should and for our own benefit.

In truth, this year was one of the most productive years of my life. I got two papers published and I am close to completing a third one which I will submit for publication perhaps after this weekend. I was hired at Grand Canyon University, where I work as an Instructional Assistant -- really a dream job for me. It is the first time in my life that my line of work is personally meaningful to me, and I am able to use the four years of training and formal education I put in at Arizona State. I started lifting weights in January, and I have been to the gym at least three times a week for fifty of fifty-two weeks. (I missed two weeks because I was sick.) I began taking lessons in music theory and composition, something I've always wanted to study, with a member of my favorite band; and he told me that I have real talent and ability.

Most importantly, over the course of this last year, by God's help, I gained some very important discernment regarding the direction my life would take after I finish my MDiv. I didn't always want to do a PhD. Indeed, when I started at seminary and I saw that all my colleagues had families of their own, wives and girlfriends, jobs and careers, exciting church ministries, I felt very unfulfilled. I didn't have any of those things. I thought to myself: a PhD would mean four or five more years of this same unfulfilled frustration. What's the point? But without the prospect of the PhD, my future was a dark void with no clear direction. God answered my prayers in a very outstanding way over the course of the last year, so that now I know what I ought to do and where I ought to go.

Of course, my life has not been perfect. I have experienced numerous moral failures and shortcomings, and I am far from where I would like to be. But at the same time, through God's help, I have made some progress. I know myself a little better, and I know that I am moving forward, even if slowly and deliberately.

I am thankful to God for the past year, with its pluses and minuses alike. There were more pluses than minuses, and that is by God's grace. I am looking forward to yet another year in fellowship with God; I want to see where he will take me and what I will learn through my experiences. I wish everyone else a Happy New Year, and I encourage everyone to put their lives in God's hands. Walking with God, as Enoch did and as so many other heroes in the scriptures did, is the only way to live in this world. I can have no confidence in my life and its value, its worth, its meaningfulness, unless I walk the path that God has set for me alongside him.

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