It barely seems like it, but the challenge has come to an end. After six weeks of no theology books and no podcasts, what have I learned?
Quite a bit.
I’ve been learning that my convictions are my own, and not the regurgitated opinions of other men who are smarter than me. The distinction of biblical manhood and womanhood, the need for a love of Scripture and sound doctrine within the Church, God’s complete sovereignty; I don’t believe these things because I’ve read them in books written by guys I like, but because I’m seeing them within the pages of Scripture. This is a very exciting thing for me, as it is a sign that I am slowing maturing.
The downside of maturing is I’ve been confronted more than ever by my own sin and iniquity. My selfishness and my pride have been brought to the forefront and the Spirit is working in me as I work on these issues. He is making me (slowly) a wiser, and less irritable man than I’ve been known to be. I am a very critical thinker, which in some ways is a very good thing, but in other ways it can be absolutely devastating. I can get so caught up on a niggling detail that I miss the forest for the trees, and become very judgmental and mean-spirited.
I don’t know that I’ll ever outgrow this particular character flaw, although I desire to. I fail over and over again, but I have been actively trying to stop myself before I speak when someone disagrees with me about anything. I’ve been trying to do more than dissect what’s been said and listen before responding. I’ve been seeking counsel from trusted friends to see if I’m creating an issue where there isn’t one, and trying to listen to their counsel. I’ve been trying to (and again, sometimes failing) to follow Scripture’s command to speak words that are fit for building up and encouraging my fellow believers.
Most importantly, I am continuing to learn that God is sufficient for all things and in all things. That if I lose everything, I will still have enough because Christ is with me. Over the last several weeks (and months), we’ve struggled with Emily’s health (including a return to the hospital at the beginning of May which resulted in surgery), financial difficulties, physical and emotional exhaustion due to excessive stress, and more. But Jesus has carried us through. He is still good. He is still here. He has not left us or forsaken us. If anything, He has become even more real to both Emily and myself. And that is a glorious thing indeed.
The last 40 days have been a wonderful gift. Thanks for sticking with me through it.