Where it Wishes: Personal Reflections on John 3:8

by Christopher Paré

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The struggle I have been having in recent weeks has yielded fruit.  I spent some time Tuesday night researching the cost of attending Gordon Conwell and how it lines up with my actual income, savings ability, and family life goals.  The Chasm between the two is immense.  As much as I would love to live and study on the north shore of Boston, the door seems to have been closed for the time being.

However, this did not end my passion for seeking out a graduate education.  I also spent some time researching other seminaries on Tuesday and ended up spending most of it on Trinity School for Ministry’s website.  What initially drew me to the site was my brother in law’s mention of a full tuition scholarship that the school offers, but the more I read, the more I feel drawn to the school.

The first and only church I have ever been an official member of is Christ Church of Hamilton and Wenham, an Episcopal Church in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.  I was a member there for just under a year and Kate and I were  married there.  I would have loved to stay there, but the Spirit lead my family down the east coast to Georgia.  When we moved I sought out an Anglican church to attend, but the only one close enough did not hold to a view of marriage and sexuality based upon the explicit teachings of the New Testament (I make the distinction because the Old Testament contains some marriage practices that are no longer blessed under the new covenant, such as polygamy).  This resulted in our attending North Georgia Church.  I could not be more thankful to God for bringing my family to that Church.  We gained immeasurable blessings and lifelong friends from our short time spent there.  It was a great surprise to Kate and I to feel the Spirit leading us back to New England.  We had found such a remarkable community at North Georgia and it was incredibly painful to leave, but I am now more confident than ever that I made the right decision.

Which brings us back to the topic at hand.  Pursuing a seminary education was one of the driving factors behind the move.  Living here in Connecticut provides an immense amount of personal comfort for me because I grew up here.  I’m living in my Grandfather’s house, which I have often hoped to raise a family in from the time I was a child.  I have all of my family nearby and most of my friends, but the Spirit may yet have another move in the near future.

I am reminded of a retreat I took while attending Nyack College.  It was part of a course called Personal Spiritual Formation and its purpose was to provide students with an extended period of solitude directed by the wisdom of mentors.  At the end of the retreat I was asked to leave one item behind and explain the significance of the item.  I chose to leave a feather I had received earlier in the weekend and quoted John 3:8 as the significance.  I said that I wanted to live a life directed by the Spirit and that I was willing to go anywhere I was lead just as the feather would go wherever the wind carried it.

Looking back, it is encouraging to see that I have listened to His leading even though it has cost me a level of consistency in life that I would like to have for myself and my family.  I am interested to see if I will end up having to make that tough decision once again in order to seek out my passion for further education and teaching.  If the Lord wills it, we will go.

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