If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you have probably heard that I was accepted to Duke Divinity School for their Master of Divinity program starting this fall. I wanted to use this blog post to answer a few questions about what this will mean for our family and how the idea of going to Duke came about.
We moved to Boston during the first week of July, 2011. That means it has almost been a year that we have been here. Most people would look at the fact that our family felt called by God to go to Boston and then left a year later as odd. Don’t worry, we find it odd too.
Leah and I made a commitment to live in Boston for a year, no matter how difficult life got. Well… life got very difficult. I’m not talking about life-or-death scenarios or sleeping on the street or anything like that. God always provided food and shelter and clothing and friends. What I’m talking about is a complete lack of contentment with our lives.
We have never really felt settled here. After months of searching, I finally got a job cleaning bathrooms back in September. I’m still doing that. I am grateful for my job and God has taught me so much through this experience. I am so much less humble than I ever imagined. When you grow up being told how smart you are for your entire life (whether or not it’s true), and then get a job where people tell you how talented you are for four years, it is hard to transition to cleaning bathrooms and being told you suck at it. Needless to say, I have had a continual personal crisis for the last 12 months.
A few months ago Leah and I decided that we would not stay here for longer than a year if our living situation did not change. I commute 30 minutes each way to a job where I arrive before 4am and then do work that eats at my self worth for 12 hours. Needless to say I’m exhausted constantly, both physically and emotionally. We haven’t been able to be involved in the church to the extent with which we had hoped. We do volunteer, but it often seems like a strain on our already limited time together.
Back in March we went as a family to Durham, NC to attend a ministry conference called Campus Harvest. Campus Harvest is put on each year by Every Nation Ministries, which is the non-denominational grouping of churches that Aletheia is a part of. Campus Harvest is a very charismatic time of worship and teaching that points college-aged people toward thinking about personal calls into ministry.
Before the first day of Campus Harvest Leah and I went to tour Duke Divinity School, mostly just for fun. I have been thinking about how cool it would be to go there for about a year now. We have both read books by a few of their professors and have been thinking that it would be really incredible to go there one day, but thought it impractical because I didn’t want to go into huge amounts of debt (Leah didn’t mind). So… we decided to visit. We really enjoyed it and were welcomed warmly by the admissions staff.
Later during the Campus Harvest weekend I received a very clear call from God to apply to seminary, specifically Duke Divinity School. I feel like an absolute charismatic nut job typing that previous sentence: “I received a clear call from God. “ But I can’t deny that I experienced something spiritual that I have never experienced before.
I’ve really struggled with whether or not I should describe the details of what happened at the conference. I’m honestly a little bit embarrassed to lay it all out there in the open. However, I have tried very hard to be as honest as possible about what has happened in Boston on this blog. I don’t want to stop now just because I’m worried about people thinking I’m crazy. So… here goes…
During a particularly expressive time of musical worship at the end of the last night of the conference everyone around me was speaking in tongues and praying out loud. My pastor, Adam, felt that he needed to pray for me. After some very intense, emotional minutes of prayer I stood there, alone, taking in what was going on. Out of nowhere a still image came into my mind. It was of a stone archway inside DDS that has the verse “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) carved into it. When I say “came into my mind” this is what I mean…
I had barely noticed the archway while we were in the school. It had no significance for me. It wasn’t even mentioned by the tour guide. It was just something that Leah pointed out, and I didn’t think about again for the rest of the day. Then, the picture appeared vividly in my head, like I had studied a photograph of the archway for years.
At the very next moment after the picture came into my head someone on stage spoke that verse out loud: “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.” I am absolutely certain that the image came into my head before I heard the verse. At this point my brain kind of perks up. I think “huh, I wonder if God is trying to tell me something here?” Well, God wasn’t done…
Within seconds of all of this, my pastor turns around, looks at me straight in the face and says, “God has given you clarity about what you are going to do next with your life.” So, within a matter of about 10 seconds I see this picture, hear the verse, and have my pastor turn around and tell me that God has given me clarity.
So, obviously, I decided to apply to Duke.
Here’s the thing, though. I had exactly one week from that moment to get my application packet in. I had one week to fill out the extensive application, write two essays, collect five letters of recommendation, and get my transcripts sent from Florida State University. One week.
On the very last possible day for submissions my last letter of recommendation was submitted with only hours to spare.
Then I had to get in. Duke Divinity admits 150 students into its MDiv program every year. With my hastily gathered application material I was chosen with 149 other people to be accepted. I’ve heard of people who went to Harvard Divinity School who got rejected from Duke.
This all seems completely unreasonable… but… it happened.
I’m a huge cynic. I have a really hard time trusting supernatural stories from charismatic Christians. I have shrugged off so many people who tell me that God told them to do something. However, I am here to tell you that something really unexplainable happened to me… and I got accepted to a school that should not have accepted me.
So, we are leaving Boston on July 1st. We will spend a month in Panama City with our friends and family. Then we will move to Durham on August 1st.
I don’t have many other details about what is happening with out lives. We are honestly taking life day by day. Please pray that God provides abundant finances for our tuition and the move. Please pray that Leah finds a job. Please pray that we find the right preschool for Judah.
Thank you for all of your support and prayers. We love you, our friends and family, like crazy.