I have loved being a part of the Theological Horizons Fellows Program. To be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was signing up for last August. I heard something about a mentor, a retreat, free books, and good food (Karen is involved, so there is always the assurance of good food) – so I thought, “Well, it can’t hurt.” I was wrong.
The Fellows Program isn’t composed only of food, retreats, books and people; it comes with hard and sometimes painful questions. I have had to ask what it means to have faith in a God that loves me enough to begin to show me that His idea of a meaningful, successful life might be different from mine; faith in a God who doesn’t want half of me, but wants everything. I have had to talk, and listen, to a God who wants to rid me, and everyone He loves, of any loves that come before him because He actually cares about my life and my actions. This God is real, powerful, and active. At times, talking to this God has been terrifying (What if he asks me to sell everything I have? What if he isn’t just asking for my possessions, but for my time, my dreams, my desires, my loves, and my future? What if He figures out how awful I am?), and sometimes the reality of what He is asking of me has hurt.
At the Fellows Retreat in January, we spent some time contemplating the image found in John 15 of God pruning us, his people, so that we might bear more fruit. This is what God has done, and is doing, in me through the Fellows Program. Conversations I have had with my mentor have laid bare desires that I didn’t know I had. Books I have read have caused me to reconsider what it means to be a Christian leader. People I have met have caused me to think about the uniqueness of my calling and theirs. The food I have eaten has been incredible. The God I have encountered is awesome.
I have felt God strip away some of my loves this semester. There is little that is more painful that being pruned and molded, but, at the same time, there is nothing that is more freeing. I want to encourage you to approach this God. Along with fear and trembling, approach this God with faith and hope in his promises and his love. God has used the Fellows Program to show me that He offers me more than I could ever imagine and that He is asking for more than I want to give.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the father but is from the world. And the world is passing way along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2:15-17
Mary Lansden Brewbaker
Economics & Religious Studies ‘14