I was thinking the other day about seeing things on a larger scale here in California. Los Angeles is a whole world away from Nashville. (And Nashville was quite a change from Michigan.) The diversity here is just…more! All the ethnicities, I see so much and so many around me. All shapes and sizes living life, whatever life that is (though I usually see it from inside the Jetta as I’m driving)
Fuller has me climbing out of my box to explore, look around and learn as well. I feel at home while I also wonder where I am. There are always rumblings about Fuller being liberal this or liberal that but it is a fully evangelical seminary. The faculty encourages all ideas to be laid out on the table. One is free to choose whatever idea she likes, just back it up! So I have found myself in interesting discussions or lectures where logical ideas that I never heard before were brought to the table. Some sound good but they just don’t seem to fit the world that I know while some absolutely make my spirit jump for joy. Take some and leave some. My Anthropology professor made the point in lecture this week that if we focus more on books with little application, we will quickly become cynical and that's how some have lost their faith in seminary (my paraphrase of Dr. Kraft).
For example, in my New Testament: Acts to Revelation course this winter, our professor gave lectures on the textual criticism of the Pauline corpus: which books Paul wrote, which ones he didn’t, when they were written, etc. I found myself getting caught up in those discussions. I found myself becoming cynical toward the Christian tradition I had been brought up in. We might find out one day if Paul or one of his disciples actually wrote Colossians but for me it finally down to the point that the argument didn't matter when it came to applying the words canonized in the Bible as the words of God. And I decided though it was interesting to investigate and discuss, that was a part of Fuller that didn't find a place in my daily application and context. So, I took the notes and became more scholarly but left most on the table.
On the opposite end, in my New Testament: The Gospels course this spring, my mind and spirit seemed to flourish as the assignments had me straight up in the Bible, teaching me how to read it with different eyes. The notes and the techniques Dr. Green gave us were and are absolutely applicable. It’s flat out amazing when you just do a “close reading of the text.”
Recently my box (my life and my perspective on it) came to mind. A time or two in the last six months, I think I toyed with idea of throwing my box away and starting over. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Get out of that box and think differently? Plus I had people here and there telling me that I would trade in Nashville for Los Angeles. All this together, I decided that I needed to go back and look at my box.
I found that six months later my box, my world, is bigger. It’s holding a few more things but it's still me. It looks like me and smells like me. It just sounds and thinks a bit differently. And I felt for the first time, I knew that it was OK. I knew it was OK to keep the same box rather than toss it out and start over. For a while I listened to the voices saying, "You like it; you'll stay." But recently I've worked at quieting those voices and decided that I need to hold onto this box, my world, me, what I know. It's 32 years of history, memories, stories, faith. This is where the word "go" came to me. This box holds the vision for this journey.
So this Midwestern-by-way-of-the-South girl knows that God doesn’t want her to get rid of her box, her world, for a bigger West Coast one. It just doesn’t make sense. The West Coast box would certainly cost more. But God is adding some West Coast things to my life, my world, but it's still me. I thought I would have to start over and get a new box for all the California and seminary experience. But really this is all growing with me. It won’t be too small for all these ideas, visions and perspectives at the end of the journey. I don't have to become an entirely new person. God didn't start over with me; he just took me to a new location.
And I think I believe more now than I ever have that this box, this world, this life of mine holds a mess of secrets that won’t come out until it gets a little bigger anyway.