Monday, November 19, 2007

Completing a course

Last Monday was the final evening of class for the course (EO18 - Introduction to Archaeology) that I taught with Sherry Klein at Dallas Theological Seminary's Center for Biblical Studies. What a pleasure that was! For a young instructor in training, a better group of students could not have been assembled. They were enthusiastic, curious, hard working, inquisitive and encouraging. Previously I had taught Bible Study Methods, which was also a real joy. This course was a great nourishment to the soul, knowing that God teaches people with such tender care and somehow sees fit to allow my participation in his training of them. What an awesome responsibility, and a sobering ecstasy that is.

However, there's also nothing like completing a thing either. Having felt recently like too many irons were in the fire, I was also looking forward to the conclusion of the course. Frankly, the roles of husband-father-student-pastor-chaplain have been time consuming enough. To have the additional role of CBS teacher on top of those was quite out of balance. Fortunately, it was just for a 10 week season, but it should be admitted that I would not have sought to teach such a course had I known last spring that I would be a pastor in the fall. Nevertheless, it is now completed, bringing the satisfaction that only the reality of "completion" can bring.

Have you ever noticed the secret pleasure that one takes in yanking the bookmark out of a novel or non-fiction tome that you just finished? Consider the sense of well-being taken from beholding a structure that you have labored over that now stands before you fully assembled. The feeling of completion is a fulfilling one, driving us to labor beyond our comfort toward the prize of satisfied finality. Consider the college student who remains diligent throughout the last year with one eye in the books and the other eye on the graduation date on the calendar. Think of the runner who receives the extra energy from deep within once the finish line is in sight. The thrill of completion is a powerful motivator. Once completion is achieved, the inner peace of another task seen to the end is worthy of meditation.

I have other currently running tasks calling for completion though: the present course being taken from DTS, as well as the overall degree program of the Th.M. Completion calls out from the task and bids be to labor beyond comfort, to keep the goal in sight and remain balanced through the journey. She charges me to read my required texts, attack the courses for the Winter and Spring semesters, and write with excellence on those subjects I'm learning. Completing a course, whether teaching it or taking it, brings the quiet confidence that God has brought me up to a point of persevering in study and labor to a measurable result. That is very satisfying, and is the reason why my commitment to persevere in seminary work remains unshaken.

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