I hit a wall last week after hours of trying to write a blog that was oozing away in every direction but the one I hoped it would go. I was experiencing a combination of writer’s block, a feeling of irrelevance to the student world and a debilitating spiral of fear that I had nothing to contribute to anyone anymore. At that point, I heard a voice from within say, “Back away from the computer — now. Do something different. Watch what will happen.”
Out of the Rut
So the next day, I hopped in a car with GFM Regional Coordinator Bob Clark to head to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was totally and markedly not a typical office work day for me, but this visit allowed me to connect with the world that many of you are in. We joined a lunch meeting called The Scripture Project, tucked in a room on the third floor of the Student Union. Bob and I arrived a little early, so we met the doctoral students and faculty who comprise the group as they trickled into the meeting. These were students and professors who represented the Theology department and a department section called Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity (JCA), which focuses on historical, narrative and form criticism. The topic for the day was Mark’s version of the Parable of the Sower.
According to Bob, this episode of The Scripture Project lunch group was more academic than usual, but I found it refreshing. The Mark 4 passage was read aloud, followed by a meditative period of silence. The professors then presented their views from the perspectives of their disciplines, and the group jumped in to ask questions, challenge assumptions and press into the text. They dissected this parable in a dozen ways — and sometimes chopped it into pieces as small as the seeds that were scattered by the sower on various kinds of ground. References to Isaiah, Hebrew and Greek words, Church fathers and other academic references filled the air. Not everyone agreed on authorship, intent, structural form or the “Markan agenda,” but everyone listened and contributed.
Why was I there? To take Bob up on a friendly invitation to see his GFM ministry world? To escape my writer’s block and the dreaded keyboard? Certainly, but as I sat among this group, I realized that God knew all along that I had been wanting to experience what it might be like, on behalf of our new Virtual Campus Ministry startup, to engage in a quality discussion online. Here was a discussion in the real world that included divergent opinions about the text while remaining cordial in conversation. Here was an example of moving toward understanding, meaning and worthwhile take-aways. I visited a new campus as a change of pace, but ended up learning unexpected, valuable lessons that will help me prepare for launching Virtual Campus Ministry.
Overall, I learned that God can bless and redeem those times when we hit walls; we must not give up when we feel discouraged or find our way blocked. Try a change of pace -- even if it means getting out of town and into another world.
Do something different, and watch what happens.