On his blog this morning, Dave Black remembered and meditated on his last 30 years of learning (30 years since he graduated from seminary). He says (Thursday, June 10 at 7:41 a.m.):
There is pain in these reflections. The past 30 years have not, for the most part, been lived for others. Not, at least, in any sacrificial sense. Nor has love been my constant priority. To fail in love is to fail completely in our witness to Christ. I have grown, perhaps, in my theological grasp, my teaching ability, my leadership qualities, my publishing record, my loyalty to the local church. The fact remains, however, that all of these things are irrelevant in the eyes of a lost world. My academic attainments, my scholarly reputation, my list of publications — these are purely secondary when it comes to my witness to others. What the world knows, and sees, and recognizes, and values, and needs is love. As Francis Schaeffer once put it, love is the distinguishing mark of the Christian and the greatest apologetic for Christianity. Has love been my constant priority these past 30 years? Hardly. But gradually, year by year, I’ve begun to realize that the great blows of God are designed to awaken me from the slumber of my tiny humanity and make a Christian out of me. My trials have produced spiritual muscles even as my body grows feeble and flabby. I have been forced — yes, trials push one towards the love of God! — forced, I say, to stop trusting in my own looks, eloquence, power, or ability and to trust instead in the incredible grace of God in Christ. 30 years ago I had the world wrapped around my little finger. Christianity was easy. Today I gladly admit: There is no such thing as easy Christianity. As never before, Christ’s love has gripped me, propelled me, and impelled me along one magnificent obsession: To know Him and to make Him known. I am rich in Christ, and these riches have nothing to do with diplomas or degrees. That sounds too simple, perhaps, but it is the voice of 30 years of experience speaking. If you are a Christian, you are rich too. I hope that you too will find true riches, know them, claim them, and live in the proved experience of them.
I was headed in the same direction that Dave Black was headed 30 years ago. I think I’m learning a little sooner thanks to his example and the example of other brothers and sisters that God has brought into my life.