Life is odd sometimes. I had originally gone on a sabbatical because I had submitted an article to Faith and Philosophy, countering an argument in a social epistemology textbook, and it was turned down. Additionally, Answers in Genesis had been painfully turned down for pre-approval to do some ad hoc articles for Answers Magazine. This combination, along with the realization that even friends and family rarely read Truth in the Trenches (questioning its relevance) led to a crisis of confidence in what I was doing; I questioned whether I had the capability to carry out this work. I’m smart, but written expression (particularly on the lay-level) is something I’ve always struggled with. While working through these deeply personal questions about my adequacy, it occurred to me that so far, every time I had thought I would need to drop out of seminary, the Lord had fought for me, and the way had been made clear. Taking this as a my guide, I finally came to the conclusion, I would continue Truth in the Trenches after my winter semester, as I had time, and I had resolved to write a message stating I was back, but that I would not write every week, only as my class schedule allowed.
It is therefore ironic that my degree program faces a new crisis; the corporation I work for has released a new tuition reimbursment program policy, effective this month, and PhD work is no longer covered; with a baby on the way, unless something changes in the next day or two, I will need to de-enroll from my degree program, this was my last real attempt at fulltime ministry, ironically Truth in the Trenches original goal.
The blogesphere is an odd place, it requires a social media strategy and skills, and I am not very good at these things, or even face to face conversation (I tend to go over people’s heads for about 5 minutes before I realize I am doing so). I had initially come to the conclusion that I would keep the lights on at Truth in the Trenches and hope that eventually God would provide help in the area I simply lacked talent to affect myself.
Now things are less clear, unless God does something specific, I will likely never return to fulltime ministry. My resume is not useful for finding jobs at churches; for years I applied to churches and they responded I could reapply when I was married, and later, they asked why I was in school for more than ten years. I could rail about the past, get upset at others while asking the constant “what ifs,” – what if I went to a seminary where they cared about their graduates, what if I had not taken any studies beyond a bachelors degree (since many churches told me they were uninterested in associates with Masters of Divinity degrees) what if I had not taken a Church that ate pastors and spit them out with regularity? This way, however, lies madness.
My circumstances are what they are. I have a wife, a baby on the way and taking care of them is more important than my happiness, for the truth is, I will never be happy unless I am preaching and teaching. I have been praying to be in fulltime ministry for more than twenty years after answering a call to preach, and so far, the answer seems to be “no,” and after praying this for decades, it comes time to perhaps accept the answer.
All this to say some I will not be closing Truth in the Trenches, but I likely won’t be trying to maintain a weekly column either. I may, or may not revise the kindle booklet, The Positive Case for Christ, we will see what the next few years bring. The blog will also likely have an address changes; things being what they are, I am not be able to justify the expense of the package I use with WordPress and will settle for just the bare-bones free version of their blogging service; this means I won’t have the .org ending, which was something of a fiction anyway, I never was able to build this ministry into anything amounting to an organization, despite my best efforts. I no longer expect Truth in the Trenches will ever reach more than a handful of people. So be it, a testimony is here, if people want it. Additionally, the sermons I posted when I first started Truth in the Trenches will no longer be available, basic service does not include audio clips.
So why continue at all? The life of the mind is more than earning degrees for the sake of having a set of letters behind your name. In the end, God has placed in our hearts a yearning need for truth that cannot be completely destroyed by the modern industrial world’s insistence that such questions lack value, for some this is the ultimate question for all research in the humanities – the search for the answer to the universal “why.” Technical educations may provide us information on how we should do things to live and found an industrial complex, but without answering why we what we do has meaning, these exercises in the end are empty. It is dangerous, perhaps, to pursue these disciplines for their own sake (which in the end MAY engender pride and arrogance), and yet, for some of us, it is both the duty C S Lewis spoke of in his sermon Learning During Wartime, but it is also inescapable. For some of us, to live is to inquire and without an outlet, what is learned dies with oneself. I can try to persuade myself that I will quit seeking answers to the great questions of life from a Christian perspective, but in truth, I know I can’t, this work is part of who I am.
One day I will come before my God, and I do not want to be the man who buried his talent in the sand. Maybe Truth in the Trenches will not be able to bring an increase of ten talents, but perhaps I can at least bring a pence to Him. I don’t know where to go from here, but I will give it my best. My goal in life has ever been to serve Him, perhaps truth in the trenches is not much, perhaps there are better apologetics blogs, those who will reach more, those who will assist believers better, but I will do what little I can.
The current election and other political crises, in particular hit my mind as things Christians must address, something I will post about in the near future.
Until next time,
Rev. Kevin R Short