I'm not sure I've ever worked as hard academically as I have these last two and a half weeks. That's a confession, not a brag. It actually feels a bit natural to commit wholeheartedly to something I feel I'm good at.
I only mention that part of my time back at seminary to set up a huge contrast. Forasmuch as I have felt alive in the academic environment during the time I've been here, it is a pitiful tiny thing compared to the gracious work of God in my heart. God brought people, books, and ideas into my life since 29 July, but none of that compares to the Holy Spirit come to break me of my self-centered dependence.
This isn't to say that the work is complete or even that large work has been wrought. It is to say that for the first time in a long time God has drawn the attention of my heart to him in an inescapable way. I spent much time since I came to know Christ putting him off, saying "Wait till I'm ready to surrender every bit of me to your will." With that attitude, that day will not arrive until I stand before the Judge (Hebrews 9:27). Now my resistance is at an all time low and the deep attractiveness of God's holiness is pulling me toward him.
In one of the many evidences of God's great heart work since I've been here, Dr. Robert Coleman came to visit with our cohort yesterday. He has long been one of my heroes of the faith and a man deeply passionate for God because he was a man deeply changed by God at the kneeling rail in Hughes Auditorium across the street in 1950. I listened to him say some pretty moving and profound things yesterday, particularly about holiness, but the thing I keep coming back to is his recounting of the Asbury College revivals in 1950 and 1970. There were lots of questions about that. The underlying question was "How can this happen again in my church?" Dr. Coleman wisely counseled that we cannot create revival but we can be ready by our willingness to lay ourselves bare when it comes. He reminded us of Psalm 85:6 (ESV) "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" to point out that the point of reviving us isn't to make much of us but so that God is the central focus of our whole lives. Our rejoicing isn't because we feel good about it but because God is so great and so magnificent that our hearts can't help but rejoice in him.
This is what I perceive right now. The attractiveness of God's holiness isn't about me but about him. My holiness isn't about doing things right but about being obsessed with God with my whole heart because God's greatest gift to us is himself. Why wouldn't I want as much of that gift as I could possibly get?