posted on January 25, 2010 17:24
This post was written by Joshua Brown, a 2nd year Master of Divinity Student here at CUDS. This post is a testimony to the importance of spiritual formation on the journey of theological education. Thanks to Josh for sharing this with us!--Melanie Walk
When I bought the bookcase, all I could think about was the number of books I owned and would come to own that I wanted to display proudly for all of my visitors to see. A year later, the bookcase sat on top of my dresser in disassembled shelves, merely gathering dust. When I had opened the box I discovered there were a few broken pieces and I resolved to use the warranty to get replacement parts. Now it kept the top of my dresser clean while five boxes of books sat beside it, seemingly mocking my inability to house them. I wasn’t exactly proud to have a broken bookcase for a year, but for some reason I could not bring myself to get rid of it. Funnily enough, that broken, dismantled bookcase turned out to be more meaningful than I could imagine.
As I entered divinity school, my faith resembled that bookcase. It was broken and hardly able to be put to use, but I could not bring myself to throw it away. I had lived my entire life in the church and I had experienced a call to ministry. However, when I began to see some of the church’s ugliness, I became disenchanted and my “bookcase” began to fall into disrepair. I tried to add new items to it, but my faith and understanding of God was no longer sufficient to hold everything. I was afraid to think of what was going to happen to me and to my faith which had defined me for so long. It is funny that most people enter seminary to explore their call; I entered to salvage mine.
I was at first suspicious about embarking upon the divinity school journey. I held within me a deep fear and resentment that I would be forced to choose either to return to that broken bookcase or burn it to ashes. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone in divinity school what I was going through—that I was questioning whether I would even be able to remain a Christian—but it turns out I did not need to mention it. Somehow, chiefly through the professors, staff, and classmates at CUDS, I began to rehabilitate my faith. I found my broken-down faith becoming slowly reconstructed as I was loved by my peers and professors, many who did so unknowingly. Slowly but surely, I began to see God and appreciate what the gospel meant again. Slowly but surely, I began to once again yearn to participate in God’s unfolding drama.
At my new house, I now have an assembled bookcase. It is not the original one— I ended up throwing that one away, but not before I had purchased a replacement. This time, none of the pieces were broken and I actually got it put together. It isn’t perfect; Jamie laughs at me because I assembled the top backwards and it looks terrible. Also, I have about three boxes of books that do not fit on it, so I will probably have to buy another one along the way. My faith is not perfect either; there are still some things that do not quite fit and it does not always resemble the God I serve. I will probably have to do some rearranging on my faith too. But the important thing, for me, is that I have a “bookcase” again. And, at the end of the day, I guess they call Jesus “the Master Builder” for a reason.