It's been a strange week. Researching doctoral programs has absorbed virtually all of my study time. And in the morass of administrative details (due dates, requirements, fees, policies, recommendations, procedures, and an unrelenting volley of emails with admissions departments all over the country) it can be hard to hang on to the joy that has characterized most of the rest of this journey. Spreadsheets, checklists, and surfing the web have replaced the hours I usually spend reading, translating, and thinking. It's not that I'm not detail-oriented, but PhD handbooks just can't hold a candle to the Bible!
This is a necessary part of the journey. One of my mentors reminded me that the time I'm spending on it will not be wasted. Someday a student will be sitting in my office asking me about PhD programs, and I will actually know something about schools other than my own. So while my sights are already set on a place to study, I'm pressing on because it's the wise thing to do and because I hope it will one day be useful to someone else. God doesn't waste anything.
There's an immediate payout from all this preparation, too. As I've worked on my resume and written my life history I've been reminded of the tangible ways that God has used my experiences to shape me. The language I studied in high school turns out to be a modern research language. My friends from college have been instrumental in connecting me with all sorts of helpful people at other schools. The book I read this summer will be a key component of my ability to articulate my research interests. The professors who have invested deeply in me will launch me into the next stage of my journey by writing recommendations. And my weekly meetings with Jehovah's Witnesses have been a constant reminder of what is at stake in the study of theology. Telling my own story has helped me find my voice again.
Even in the event that every door is closed to me, I trust that God will not waste this season of preparation. I do think it's possible to waste your life. But in a life surrendered to Him every little thing, no matter how insignificant, can bring Him glory.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Dr. Carmen Imes is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta, and serves the broader church through teaching, speaking, and writing. She earned a PhD in Biblical Theology (Old Testament) from Wheaton College under Dr. Daniel Block, an MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a BA in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. She and her husband, Danny, served as missionaries with SIM 15 years. They have three children: Ana, Emma, and Easton.