I’ve been thinking about the role of an academic, which is to raise questions that are pertinent to everyday life. This is the academic’s main role, as questions are important to understanding how we live and work, and think about things. Data is scanned constantly for inaccuracy, and potential errors. In fact, all information has the potential to become a question. Questions roll around in academic’s minds for years, maybe even an entire lifetime. I’ve been contrasting this with the role of a pastor, which is seemingly to answer questions pertinent to everyday life. A question is something that must be immediately answered, or fixed. A pastor finds a question on Monday and their conclusions are usually available during Sunday’s service. So an academic pastor is either one who has a regular schizophrenic conversation in their head or yields to one of these two predominant impulses.
Blocking out what the next three years look like for me, I’ve got a range of very helpful answers. It’s amazing how God can place the right people around you at the right time. And each step needs to be walked in due process… it’s hard, I’m not going to lie. Reading twenty three text books to prove foundational knowledge in the discipline of Missiology was hard. Now trying to gain foundational knowledge in Anthropology will be hard. I’m not kidding myself!!!
But I had a thought today, “the joy of the Lord is my strength”, and I had the right to approach it from both angles. It could be an answer to fix the emotions I’ve been working through (mainly overwhelm). It could be a formula to plug in, a statement that I quote to myself and draw strength from, quietening my thoughts. But today I chose to approach it as a question. “How is ‘the joy of the Lord my strength?'”…
I had three conversations today that I asked this question through – a young, single missionary in Spain who has just led her first Bible study in Spanish. A wife whose husband is sick and deciding whether to undergo a debilitating surgical procedure. A pastor whose child was killed. It is obvious that all three have found joy in trying situations. And yet this looks different for each one of them. And I wonder what it looks like for me, in being accepted into a PhD program I dreamed of doing as a child.
And if you have insight into it, I’d love to hear from you. How is the joy of the Lord your strength?