By William Crouch
On Friday during the Capital Fellows course called the Kingdom Seminar, Dr. Bill Fullilove guided the fellows through the book of Numbers. The title does little to spark the imagination, but we learned that in the Hebrew tradition, it means, “In the Wilderness.” It is an often-overlooked book, partly due to a boring name and setting, but I was astonished at how much wisdom it had to offer us fellows in the season of life we find ourselves in.
The excitement of liberation in the Exodus story, with its dramatic scenes of ten plagues, pharaohs’ army, and Moses parting the waters, seems to have worn off, leaving the Israelites in the middle of nowhere, and us readers in the middle of the story. With their freedom in hand, they are faced with the choice of continuing their journey by going into the promised land, or turning back and returning to their bondage in Egypt. They choose the latter, but God still keeps his promise to Abraham. With the intervention of Moses on their behalf, they are instead sentenced to wander in the wilderness for forty years, and it will be their children who enter the promised land. The remainder of the book follows this pattern. The complaining and failing of the rebellious Israelites are met with God’s faithfulness to those among them who decide to place their trust in him.
My prayer for Season 13 of Capital Fellows is that we would be bold enough to seize the blessings God has prepared for us is our roles as seminary students, interns, and ministry leaders. When we are tempted to grumble, that we would be reminded of the promises of God found in Numbers , and those fulfilled in the life and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
At this juncture in the discussion, Dr. Fullilove presented us with a challenge that stuck with me. He pointed out that at this point in the semester, fellows have a tendency to grumble about the work required of us. We have papers due and readings to finish, mixed with the demands of our internships around the city and commitments to Student and Children’s Ministries. It sometimes feels as though we are pulled in different directions, and various frustrations can mount quickly. Through it all, we must recognize that we’re being offered blessing from God as a class of fellows.
Dr. Fullilove reminded us that like the Israelites, we’re not always bold enough to seize it. He told us to take advantage of what’s offered to us these nine months as fellows, and in our lives afterwards. The personal resources we have now as far as access to pastors and mentors are particularly abundant. The chance to ask them questions and dive into difficult topics in a small classroom setting is unique to many of our spiritual and educational formations. I should add that we’ve all appreciated Sarah Frances, the one we can rely on to energize our discussion with a good question. This is one example of the ways we each make individual contributions to our success as a class of fellows.
Our internships, while they may involve tedious tasks and dull spreadsheets, or answering the phone calls of angry congressional constituents, should also not be cause for grumbling, but for receiving the blessing God has for us there. We can do this by being willing to learn from bosses and co-workers, and using the time to develop our skillset, our professional network, and sense of vocational calling.
The time we get to spend serving the kids of McLean Presbyterian Church’s Student and Children’s ministries, and the students of Cornerstone School is not always easy. In many ways, it can seem chaotic and disorganized. We might be tempted at times to disengage from it and go through the motions, but we would be missing out on the blessing God has for us. I’ve already experienced the joy that comes from seeing students move towards flourishing in their spiritual and educational journeys.
The best part of this past week for me was our visit at the offices of International Justice Mission (IJM) on Friday morning before Dr. Fullilove’s class. I was blown away by their dedication to the work of rescuing enslaved people around the world, and their resilience as an organization in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances. I wondered how they were able to handle the burden of that kind of work day in and day out. My answer came when we sat in on their daily prayer meeting. They brought forth prayer requests from different parts of the organization, and made it clear that the burden of work was not their own, but God’s. Instead of turning away from the dangers involved with their work, or complaining about the setbacks they experience, they decide as an organization to turn to God in prayer, and be bold enough to seize the blessing he has for them and the people they help around the world.
My prayer for Season 13 of Capital Fellows is that we would be bold enough to seize the blessings God has prepared for us is our roles as seminary students, interns, and ministry leaders. My hope is that when we are tempted to grumble about our various frustrations, we would rely on each other and those around us to remind each other of the promises of God found in Numbers and the old testament, and those fulfilled in the life and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ in the new testament. May we stand with open hands and receive Aaron’s Blessing of Numbers 6:24, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Pictures from the Week
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Capital Fellows is a leadership and vocational development program for recent college graduates. It's a 9-month program that includes a paid job in your field of interest, service in the church and city, a personal mentor, vocational coaching, life with a host family, and customized seminary courses to help you grow in your walk with the Lord in all areas of life.
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