Sunday, January 01, 2006

Personal Statement

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I have known these words most of my life, drilled into me from an early age as a simple Sunday School song. A simple phrase really, which is why it is perfect for Sunday-schoolers to sing, but perhaps a little too simplistic for the adults sitting on the hard wooden pews?

“Jesus loves me”, when you understand who this Jesus guy is – sent from God. The Lord of all creation; our ‘Abba’ Father. But not only sent by God, but also from the very beginning of time “He was with God, and He was God.” When you understand who this Jesus guy is and that he loves you – you out of all of the 6 billion people roaming this planet – He loves you - the words “Jesus loves me” become very profound!

“This I know, for the Bible tells me so” – such riches are to be found in this great book! It is the epic love story of a Creator with his creation, a God and his people, a Father and his children, a Groom with his bride. It is tale stretching thousands of years, winding its way through deserts, battles, foreign invaders, miracles, sacrifice, triumphs, heartache, wayward hearts, forgetful minds, faithful souls, and many kept promises – a tale reaching its pinnacle with the arrival of the Hero, who came to point the people back to the Father, and invite them to open their eyes, ears and minds to see, hear and understand that His Kingdom was here and that you are loved.

Simple words, but very profound. These were the words that I chose to leave as my ‘famous last words’ to 250 teenagers and 20 leaders after a six-year journey that saw 12 young men start high-school as boys and finish as a band of brothers following Christ, helping each other along the joyful, but often treacherous road Jesus asks us to follow. After 6 long years of sharing our lives and coming to Christ together, opening the Word and seeing what the Lord had to say about His world and our lives – these simple words seemed to be the appropriate message to leave them with. A platform to stand on, to step forward to the next stage of life and come back too, if necessary.

Of course I got the idea from Karl Barth. After a lecture he was once asked “Of all the theological insights you have ever had, which do you consider to be the greatest of them all?” After establishing himself as one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, you could have expected his response could have been published as his next written work. Instead after thoughtfully considering the question, Barth responded, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”.

In a nutshell these simple but profound words bring me to this point on my journey: typing my personal statement to be considered for admission into Regent College. To understand that Jesus loves me and that I can know this love through God’s word are radically life-impacting ideas!

This personal statement forms part of my application to study at Regent College. Applying is one of a few hurdles that stand in the way of potentially three years of further study. Part of the application hurdle is my past mediocre academic performance. Ten years ago when I started my first degree straight out of high-school, I didn’t really know why I was studying; it is just what most people I grew up with went on to do. In my first year I struggled and failed a few subjects (not great for my GPA). I soon learnt what I had to do to get through and got my degree without failing another subject. There were moments of academic brilliance and times when I really enjoyed what I was doing, but Youth Ministry, sporting, and work commitments seemed more important than getting great marks for a university degree I wasn’t very interested in. I feel as though my academic prowess is still to be realised.

I followed the crowd into my last degree and lived up to my family’s business expectations in doing so. In the world’s eyes, Regent as my next step in tertiary study is not the obvious course to follow. However, when you know that Jesus loves you and you and your wife have opened your lives up to His call, then three years of learning about what God is doing in this world and in His church is the next step. It is a necessary step toward being equipped to lead, teach, organise, counsel, write, or do whatever and go wherever the Lord may lead. This is a degree I am far more interested in than Commerce.

Regent College seems to be a good place for this equipping to take place. The interdenominational and truly international faculty and student population are a great starting point for seeing the bigger picture of what the Lord is doing with his entire church. The various reasons for which students come to Regent and the variety of places and occupations graduates go afterwards allows flexibility for people to explore and to find where the Lord would have them and what He would have them do. This path also offers a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures, learn from the triumphs and downfalls of the church, and study God himself - seeking to gain a richer and deeper understanding and love for Him.

One “pipe-dream” of what our (my wife and I) future holds beyond our Regent studies is to run a retreat centre – a place where all of God’s children could come and retreat for a while, quiet spot to still one’s self and seek to listen to the Lord. A place that is emersed in God’s creation, where His goodness is seen, explored and appreciated, an environment where seekers could together question and discuss what it means to be God’s children. A refuge where denominations, cultures and nationalities wouldn’t divide, but instead where followers of Christ could come together in unity. A time-out, to re-focus and be ready to check back-in, refreshed, clear sighted and ready to continue following Jesus down this long and winding road. God willing, Regent will be an important stepping-stone to what God has planned for us.

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