Just a few hours ago we held our last chapel service this semester. Over the years it has become customary for students who will be graduating to share their experiences during the last three or four chapels of the year. As I listened last week and this I have been encouraged by what was shared. Some students are leaving us after being here for a number of years, while others are moving on after only taking a few courses, but in all of them I can see positive change that has come about as a result of their exposure to God's word.
In the end, this is what theological education is all about. It is not enough to fill student's minds with ideas if the truth is not shaping their lives and increasing their commitment to Jesus Christ. But shape them it has by God's grace. Each student is unique and yet all of them are leaving different than when they came. Now it is our prayer that they will continue to grow and learn and that whatever they do, they will work hard to the best of their ability.
Reflecting on the whole process it stuck me that change takes place over time, but often in imperceptible ways. Day follows day, and days give way to weeks, and eventually months, and years, and while we may not be conscious of the changes that are taking place, we are changing nonetheless. Sometimes there are growth spurts, but more often than not the growth is more subtle. This is one good reason why it is important to be reading and studying the Bible on our own and why there is no substitute for weekly exposure to the faithful, imaginative exposition of the word. God's word is powerful and if we open ourselves to it wanting to know God better, we will get our wish.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure, and all of them are righteous." Psalm 19:7-9