It's incredible to think that here I am just over halfway done with my last semester here at NTBI. It seems rather cliche to say that it seems like just yesterday I was stepping into this school as a fairly ignorant freshman but the time has really flown by. As I'm nearing the end I've been reflecting on my time here. I've been thinking about this whole idea of the worker. At the end of my time here I will have spent about 816 hours in the classroom under the teaching of God's Word and roughly the same amount or more spent in required homework for the classes. These numbers might seem impressive, but this was really only the bare minimum that needed to be completed. I have found it so incredibly easy to fulfill these 'obligations' and devote the rest of my time to what I wanted to do. The issue has always been a matter of priorities. It doesn't really matter whether I have 15 minutes of 'free' time or 6 hours of 'free' time - what I do with my time often reflects my value system. Those who value sports will make the time to play. Those who value reading will make the time to sit down and read their latest novel. Those who value spending time hanging out with people will make the time to do so. Those who value an intimate relationship with God will MAKE the time to read, study, meditate on His Word. This is not just going to class and doing my homework. This means intentional time spent soaking in the Word of God. Yes, classes can help one to gain understanding and insight and homework can be an excellent way to spend some intentional time with God in His Word, but they are NOT the end goal. This has been a real struggle all through my time here at NTBI because it is so easy to disconnect from it all and make it into mere academia and the learning of facts. NO! As one of my teachers here has told us several times: "We are in a living relationship with a living God." We must not lose sight of this in all the academia or we have lost the very reason for such academic pursuit.
However, I am also coming to recognize my utter need of being in the Word continually. It is the TRUTH, my secure foundation. I must learn to approach the Word with neither intellectual infatuation nor apathy. This is a surprisingly difficult balance to maintain for one day I am consumed with all the academia of my studies in the Word and the next I am almost indifferent to it. I must be intentional in my relationship with God and pour out hard work to understand the Scriptures in order to better understand my heavenly Father. It's just like any other relationship that you want to grow deeper; you've got to spend a lot of time building it but you've also got to be intentional in the relationship by making time for the other and really seeking to understand them at their core level. The good thing about God is that He's ALWAYS there for me to come back to and I'm the only one who ever really steps away from the relationship.
The other thing I've been thinking about is this whole idea of rest. Sure we should work hard as the servants that we are, but we must not think that it is all about how much we strain and stretch ourselves for that is simple pride in our own abilities and strength. As the apostle Paul himself said: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Php 4.13). His strength was great and not of himself, therefore his effort was sensational. The reason for this is that he did all things relying on the ability of God to do the impossible. In the midst of intense labor we must stop and ask ourselves if we are relying on our own strength or the strength of the Almighty. In this we find rest and can put forth much expenditure from THIS position of God-dependence.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11.28-30