Thursday, May 1, 2008

PhDs and providence

What a waste of time my 5 years writing a PhD could have been!

I'm not sure why I did a PhD. Probably a hang-over from my private schooling: if you transfer to Arts after 1 year of Medicine, you'd better justify your choice by getting some letters after your name.

I really wanted to go to theology college, but Steve and I couldn't both afford it. So if the government was handing out scholarships, why not study theology disguised as church history?

Such noble goals!

I chose my topic fairly randomly. I couldn't do Reformation history because I didn't know French, German or Latin, not having done any particularly useful subjects during Arts.

But I was chatting with Gordo one memorable day when he suggested: "How about the Puritans? They were the evangelicals of sixteenth century England!" (He was doing a Masters on the Puritans, and as far as I know, is doing it still.)

So the topic "The Puritan quest for enjoyment of God" was born.

A few days ago, I was staring at my over-loaded bookshelf, when I noticed how many of the topics I write and speak about were covered by my PhD:
    - the greatness of God, who created us not from need, but for his glory;
    - the grace of God, who set his love on us before the foundation of the world;
    - the Puritans, who lived for God with passion and purpose;
    - the spiritual marriage between Christ and the church;
    - the inexpressible and glorious joy which is ours in Christ;
    - holiness, fighting the battle against sin in thought, word and deed;
    - spiritual disciplines, like prayer, meditation and soliloquy;
    - psychology, how to respond to issues like depression, anxiety and discouragement;
    - faithful marriage and family life, shaped by God's priorities.
Those 5 years shut away in my study were a brilliant preparation for every minute of motherhood and ministry afterwards.

In God's good providence, nothing is wasted. Not even a casual comment. Not even a mixture of motives. Not even 5 years in the wilderness writing a PhD.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

6 comments:

Nicole said...

Wonderful post Jean!

Gordon Cheng said...

But I was chatting with Gordo one memorable day when he suggested: "How about the Puritans? They were the evangelicals of sixteenth century England!" (He was doing a Masters on the Puritans, and as far as I know, is doing it still.)

Hey that's really cool!

Yep, still doing my Masters. Don't tell anybody!

How thankful I am to God, though, that he used my comment in the way he did. Because now it has come full circle, and he has used your hard work on the Puritans to bless your readers.

John Dekker said...

You know, I've never heard of soliloquy as a spiritual discipline before, though I think I instinctively know what it is.

Jean said...

Soliloquy = talking to oneself.

In this case, preaching the gospel to oneself.

A thoroughly excellent spiritual discipline we don't talk about enough!

Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Spiritual Depression is all about it, though. And many of the Psalms.

And I will blog more about it some time, God willing!!

Lara said...

I think I read an article of yours in kategoria once - "Puritanism: A Piety of Joy." Great article!

It's very encouraging to be reminded that in God's providence, nothing is wasted. I've recently passed the four-year mark of working on my PhD (natural theology in 17th century England) and I won't be finished until later this year.

In God's good providence, nothing is wasted. Not even a casual comment. Not even a mixture of motives. Not even 5 years in the wilderness writing a PhD.

That's fantastic. Thanks!

Susie said...

It is always such an encouragemenbt to be able to cast an eye back over your life and see God at work, even if we were kind of oblivious to it at the time.
And I would agree that there were many memorable a day chatting with Gordo!