I have finally graduated from seminary after 8 years of study. I started in 2011 after a time of reflection on the future. My desire has always been to study and to teach the Bible with a sense of amazement and worship. I applied without knowing where it would lead me, but now I feel extremely thankful to have had the chance to get this kind of education.
It was not painless though. First, seminary quickly brought doubts about my faith. Is the Bible really inerrant? Does God exist? Learning about the possible flaws and questioning the authorship of the different books of the Bible led me to three years of troubles. During that time, I felt I was drowning in doubts. Was I really going to deny Christ? I started to study apologetics on top of everything else. I also received a great support from the pastor of the Vine Church. We started to meet weekly so that he could improve his French, but it was honestly three years of mentorship. I am truly grateful for his help. After three years, I had arguments for atheism and for Christianity – both requiring as much “faith” to adopt one system over the other.
In the end, I realized why our relationship with God is defined by faith. It is because faith is trust that requires abandonment to Him. Faith demands humility. It is submitting and following Him without knowing everything. Bill Maher – mocking Christianity in Religulous – said “Doubt is humility.” What he meant is that if we do not know everything, then let us have the humility not to claim the truth. But in reality, doubt is arrogance. If we do not know everything, it does not mean we cannot proclaim any truth at all! We do have partial knowledge of the truth. Doubting implies that if we are uncertain about God’s existence, then let us not claim his existence. Foolishness! If we are uncertain, it implies He might exist. And if He exists, then doubting Him is telling Him we prefer to ignore Him because WE are not sure. And so I took a step of faith toward God… without any regret!
Second pain, busyness! I took online classes and intensive classes on campus during winter and summer… and I worked full time, and I served in a local church “full time” (or so 🙂 ), and I had a family to care for… I still remember trying to study while having my son on my belly so that he would stop crying and sleep… Managing time was a challenge, but seminary built in me the desire to do more than watching movies and playing video games after work!
Third pain, dryness! Studying the Bible so much often led me to feel dry. The awe of God was at times gone. The Bible was an object of study – just like other books could be. I would even skip reading Bible verses when reading books because it was already known text. But I am glad that for most of the time, I took only one class per semester which allowed me not to be overwhelmed with the feeling of getting things done, but to reflect a bit more on one specific topic. One thing I realized after a semester of study was how much I craved to read biographies or hearing people talking about their relationship with God. The feeling I had was “I need life!” Isn’t it dramatic for students of the Word of life to feel this way after a semester?
Seminary was not seamless… But I have grown so much through my studies. I wish I could have gone to the graduation ceremony. The financial cost was more than what I wanted to spend – plus other occupations prevented me from going. I am truly sad about it. To me, it was not so much about acknowledging achievement. It was rather saying goodbye to a period of my life where I felt very blessed. I cannot believe it is done. But graduation is not the end of learning. On the contrary, I want to read, study and learn about the Bible even more. I piled up books during all those years I wanted to read… My journey to knowing God and His Word has not finished with graduation! I am all the more eager to learn… and hopefully to share my joy and passion with others!