Winter is here, snow is falling, and carols are playing in the living room. We just finished our first two-on-one snowball fight in the backyard and the sky is greying over to tell us that yet more snow is on the way. The seven-foot noble fir stands dignified and beautiful in the corner, decorated according to custom in all silver and white, warming the living room as only a live, well-decorated noble fir can do. The smell of pine needles fills the air, presents overflow from under the tree, and hot chocolate is becoming a daily event. From the red brick wall of the small church on the corner hangs a tall vertical banner with angels holding uplifted trumpets and the one-word message: PREPARE.
Our first semester in Louisville has passed with a rush and a waterfall of blessing that on any given day seemed to either bless or drown. The mosaic of newness has proven to be both beautiful and burdening, with school, city, job, friends, ministry, and church all being strangers. Yet here we are four months later, gazing out on the snow which reminds us that our sins are washed away and reflecting on the quick passing of this first autumn in the place where Abraham’s God has so clearly called us.
We arrived knowing that we wanted to spend these five years in the same local church, if God wills, so we’ve taken the time to visit ten different local bodies throughout the fall. Experiencing each assembly and knowing who’s where is important to me as I serve in Student Life at an institution that serves as an informal hub of many churches in the area. You rarely have (or want) the freedom to spend three or four months visiting around, so we’ve taken that one-time opportunity on the front end. But we’re now close to committing to a local body, with gratitude for all the gatherings which we could gladly join, all things being equal.
On the academic front, the two-week blitz of eight-hour days preparing for Peter Gentry’s Intertestamental Language and Literature final exam is over, as are my NT Colloquium and Theological German courses. Liddell and Scott’s massive Greek lexicon still sits on my desk, and yesterday Judah used the library’s self-check-out scanner to help me obtain Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Widerstand und Ergebung: Briefe und Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft (Letters and Papers from Prison) so that I can keep my basic German current and growing with ten minutes a day.
Tuesday holds my first OT Colloquium with a day of lectures by distinguished Ancient Near East and Semitics scholar Anson Rainey from Tel Aviv University. I’ll gather with the OT students to hear Professor Rainey speak on:
- The Order of Sacrifices in Levitical Ritual
- When Came the Israelites and Their Language?
- In Search of the Hebrew Verb
- Israel in the Merenptah Stele and Reliefs
In these early December days I’ll be turning my mental attention toward two major projects which represent part of the reason why we chose to come to a substantial academic institution for this season of life. More snow will begin falling as the sun sets indiscernably in the west, and we’ll awake again to the chorus of birds flocking upon the sky-scraping trees in our backyard as they migrate south to warmer regions. We’ll continue buying up those items we didn’t need for the past twelve years (winter boots, driving gloves, sledding discs) while anticipating a fifth birthday, an eighth anniversary, and another family visit.
As I learned to say in California (and am still learning to mean here), life isn’t “crazy” or “busy.” It’s full. This full life is what we’ve chosen, and even more, what God has chosen for us. There are no gift receipts for His blessings, because the sane would never return them, no matter how they’re packaged. In the midst of inner and outer challenges and burdens, we are blessed beyond measure. And when we forget, having cooped ourselves up within the walls and ceilings of earthly concerns, all we have to do is wander outside under the falling December snow and remember that though the inn was full, the tomb is empty, and that long ago in the city of David was born to us a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.