The first and second weeks of May are always interesting weeks for me. As a college professor, these weeks mark several ends and new beginnings. It is the end of the Spring semester and it is also graduation time. Students take their "final" final exams and then turn the page for a new chapter in his or her life.
What is true for academia is true for us in the world as well.
We reach forks in the road, run into new opportunities or are simply faced with decisions that will change our lives. This doesn't mean that we "leave behind" or "forget about" what has happened before, but it does mean that as we accept these opportunities or make these decisions, our lives will change. Some of us don't do so well with change. We like things the way they are - predictable, routine and 'safe' - but that reality is false. It means that in our refusal to allow for change, we will not grow, we will not mature. Although we will age, we will not learn.
On the other hand, to face change is to grow. Growth, however, is never easy or painless. Growth extracts a price, either temporarily or permanently. Jesus says, "Take up your cross and follow me!" (Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) It is an imperative, not an option. Inherent within that call however is the obvious call to suffering. Bearing the cross is neither easy nor is it neat. To bear the cross is a messy, life changing ordeal. It frightens us. It causes pain and it changes us. Nevertheless, it is the only way.
Sadly, there are many who insist on making Christianity a game to play. They want all the love and acceptance with none of the cross-bearing or pain. They flirt with the cross without actually bearing the cross. They crave forgiveness but have no desire to forgive anyone else. They have become the hypocrites that Jesus roundly denounces in Matthew 23. They avoid true change at all costs. They are not only disingenuous to God, but to themselves as well.
I've been there. Maybe we all have been there. But I don't want that in my life and I pray you do not want that in yours. I want to grow. With the Spirit's help, I know that we can. The truth is, we never arrive - God is always growing us, asking us to take up new challenges and turning the page on new chapters in life.
So here is my new chapter...
• My oldest daughter graduates high school and enters her own new chapter in college. Our relationship will change, but that's OK... it must as she grows into being the woman God has called her to be.
• I am accepting a call to lead a small church as a part-time pastor. Together we will face the future God has for us.
• I am working with other student groups at the University now, both athletes and scholars. We will be getting missional together for Christ.
• I am finishing my thesis this summer and looking on to the next writing projects.
• I am seeing some students off to bright futures, while forging new relationships with new, bright and eager freshman minds.
God is good and He's changing me. I know there will be difficult paths to tread. I know that I will experience suffering and privation. But that's OK - my master did it before me.