Every Tuesday our worship staff gets together to plan the services for the next two Sundays. We begin each meeting with a devotion and prayer to help center our minds and hearts as we work through planning process. This past week for our devotion, we were asked to share a short story about a time when our lives were changed in some way. Along with the story, we were supposed to build an imaginary Play-Doh image of the catalyst of our change. With each story, books, retreat centers, and even our own church sanctuary were created in our minds. Each of the stories was meaningful and gave us an opportunity to learn more about one another as coworkers in ministry.
At seminary, I discovered a freedom that I had never known before. The word freedom has taken on a new significance for me even though physically I have lived in a free country, able to freely worship in a church, work at a job of my choice and travel whenever and wherever I want to go. However, I had never known the freedom to question my spiritual doubts and fears and freely engage in conversations with others about faith. My whole life I have craved to know more about the people in the Bible, their stories of doubt, trust and ultimately their faith. I didn’t know that by questioning all aspects of who God is meant that I would not be held in contempt for doing so. What started out as an opportunity to study the stories I hold so dear; it gave me an opportunity to grow in my understanding that God does not judge all of my imperfections but quite the opposite. God loves me wholly in spite of them.
Letting go of trying to be perfect and just let God take over my life took practice and a lot of processing. Seminary gave me the freedom to do that. In the scriptures we find that God chose many imperfect people to do the God’s saving work in the world. Just look at some of the characters of the Old Testament like Abraham who gave his wife away two different times so that he would not be in danger, or Jacob who was a conniver and a liar, or Moses who murdered an Egyptian and of course David, who envied another man’s wife and had him killed to have her. We could continue to look into the New Testament as well starting with the disciple Peter, who denied Jesus, or Paul (Saul) who threw followers of Christ into jail and stood back and watched as one of them was stoned to death. Our imperfections have never stopped God from working with us to change a very flawed world. Again, seminary gave me to opportunity to be free to study, worship and learn from others about God’s grace and undying love for me. I am set free just as it states in 2 Cor. 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Luther Seminary changed the course of my understanding about freedom in Christ. Within the walls of learning and study, God built a home of faith, not with Play-Doh but with love and grace.