Some people argue that seminary is the last place a person should go to get closer to God. Seminary just inflates the brain, they say, while pushing the heart away from the God it claims to help students know.
But my time at Southern Evangelical Seminary drove my faith deeper as I came to know God more fully through diligent study. Further, 14 years of seminary study through the master’s and PhD degrees tested my perseverance like nothing I’ve ever before attempted, especially given the fact that I didn’t graduate with the PhD until I was 65 years old, the same year I got Social Security, Medicare and Covid.
I knew that I likely didn’t have a long life of ministry stretching out before me as many others do who finish at a younger age, no long career to contribute to the academic community or to build a ministry. There was also the possibility that given my age, the demands of the PhD program would outstrip my mental and physical abilities, and I might not even be able to finish.
But I also knew that the questions I had about my faith and my God required philosophical answers.
So, I decided to take it one course at a time and just try to be faithful in each moment the Lord gave me.
I was encouraged by the fact that I had taken a course with Dr. Norm Geisler when he was well into his late 70’s and still contributing to the academic community, as well as actively serving in kingdom-building ministry. During one class I even commented to him that he gave me hope for fruitful ministry in my later years.
With the encouragement and support of the SES professors who required more of me than I thought I could give, I am now on the other side of the PhD. The Lord is opening ministry opportunities that bring me great joy and enable me to use the skills that I gained through study.
One thing I have learned is that I don’t need to see the finish line because my Lord sees the end from the very beginning, so all I need to do is take one more step, trusting him with the results.
One of my greatest joys is being a Nana to my 10 grandchildren, a Nana who listens to their questions about life and God and faith, and has been equipped to answer the hard questions so that I can help them find the answers. I also look forward to equipping other believers with the knowledge the Lord has given to me at SES. I want to be a good steward of that knowledge and pour out my life in ministry and in becoming more like Jesus Christ as He conforms my character to His likeness.
I don’t know how much time I have left here on this earth. None of us knows. But I consider my long tenure as a student at SES a worthwhile investment no matter how much of this life remains. If I am gifted with 20 more years of service on this earth, that will be wonderful. If not, I am confident that the Lord has prepared me to serve in his coming kingdom through my time at SES.
So, to anyone who says that seminary moves you away from God, I can only respond that they must not have attended SES. For SES connects the head and heart for students who long to learn what it means to love God with their minds.