Thinking Biblically

What I’ve Learned In Seminary

No, I did not go to seminary. But, Jason did, and I got to go along for the ride! Today he had the opportunity to share his senior testimony during chapel. Over the last few days, we’ve had several conversations centered around what he planned to say. It was interesting to ask what he thought were the most important lessons he had learned over the last few years, and to hear his responses. While time constraints limited how much he could share with his fellow students (3-4 minutes can pass extremely quickly!), it was encouraging to hear that his time at TMS has caused him to grow spiritually – not just academically.

As we talked about his testimony, I began thinking through some of the things that I have learned over the past few years. For many reasons, I was not a fan of seminary life. But, I am thankful to say that I too have learned lessons over the last 4 years that I hope are not merely academic.   



God is God. Steven Curtis Chapman sings a song called “God is God.” The chorus states the simple truth that “God is God, and I am not.” In college, my roommate and I used to talk about how much better things would be if we ran the world. Well, of course we both knew that the truth was that things would be much worse if we were in control! But, knowing the truth and applying it can often be two very different things. There were some tough times in the last few years – emotionally, financially, and spiritually. There were days (weeks) that I doubted whether this seminary was the best road for our family. I thought that I knew a better way. But, regardless of the circumstances that brought us to this particular school, the Lord was going to use it in our lives – for good. He impressed upon me, the control-freak, once again the truth that God is God, and I am not!

“Holy aloneness”. Seminary brought many lonely times. Jason worked many late nights, when I really was all by myself. But, even when we were together I still felt lonely. We may have been in the same room, but there were usually books to be read, papers to be written, languages to be studied, deadlines to be met. It didn’t leave much time for conversation. In her book Secure in the Everlasting Arms, Elisabeth Elliot talks of a “holy aloneness.” She says that instead of complaining that you have no one to talk to, thank God, and talk to Him! She says,

“We can always talk to God.  It is a strong temptation to run to the phone when we need advice or help of any kind, forgetting to seek first the living Word of God, whose ear is always open to our cry….The Bible teaches us that here is a Wonderful Counselor.  Let your loneliness be transformed into a holy aloneness.” 

I have a wonderful husband! The seminary offers a weekly Bible study/fellowship time for the wives. Unfortunately, I did not attend many of them, as I always came away more frustrated and discouraged at the constant “husband-bashing”. I was newly married, and still getting used to the whole concept of “wife” let alone “seminary.” I was so discouraged as I heard other seminary wives complain about their husbands – how much time they spent studying, how little time they spent with the children, how they never did anything to help around the house, etc…. I’m sure there were many times that I was guilty of doing the same. My husband was busy (so was I) and I did not see him nearly as much as I would have liked. But, one night the wife of a professor spoke at the Bible study. She was known for not tolerating any negative comments about one’s husband. She said that supporting our husbands worked itself out in many ways – one being that we don’t complain – to him, or about him – no matter what. I had spent a good amount of time complaining to Jason – about the same things these wives were complaining to each other about. Does that make me a better person? Certainly not. It had the same effect – it did not show that I supported him and wanted to help him. I went home and told Jason I wanted to do just that, for the rest of seminary. He told me that he had decided to take the following year off, so we would have more time together. (Funny how that submission thing works sometimes!) He told the men in chapel that he had learned that our relationship had to be a priority. It had to come before seminary, before grades. I have a wonderful husband, who loves me, and is committed to our relationship – even amid the chaos of seminary life!

Just because a man is godly does not mean his wife is godly. I have this note written in my Bible next to Job 2:9-10. I studied this book at some point during Jason’s time in seminary. I saw it the other day, and it reminded me that the fact that my husband is finishing seminary, and preparing for ministry does not make me a godly woman by association. No matter how godly my husband might be, this is something that I need to be pursuing for myself. No one can do it for me. I need to be cultivating a heart that loves and trusts the Lord now, regardless of my circumstances so that I do not follow the example of Job’s wife, and become the contentious woman of Proverbs 21. (Verse 19 says, ” It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.”)

This is not an exhaustive list of the things that I’ve learned during my husband’s time in seminary. I suppose only time will tell whether these lessons are merely academic. But, I can say that through everything, my doubts, wrong attitudes, and complaints, God has remained faithful. 2 Timothy 2:13 says “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” I am so thankful that God’s faithfulness is not changed by my failures. Chapel closed by singing the first verse of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I thought it was a fitting end to our time at The Master’s Seminary. God truly has been faithful!

Great is Thy faithfulness,
O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!