This year I’m splitting our annual januflection (looking back and looking ahead) into three parts. I’ve already looked back, so in this post I’m looking ahead to our expectations and goals for 2016. For me especially, 2016 is going to be an important year that could open doors to expand ministry potential. But let’s start with Elisabeth, who has a big year ahead, too.
Elisabeth is now in eighth grade in a nine year elementary school system (grades 1-9, with high school in grades 10-13). In Slovakia, once you finish elementary school you have to make a big decision about what kind of high school you want to go. There are college prep schools (gymnasium), there are professional schools (Electrotechnical, Information Technology, Pharmaceutical, etc.) and there are trade schools. Once you determine what kind of school you would like to attend you go to open houses, fill in applications, take entrance exams and do just about everything you would do to prepare for college in the States.
Among those college prep schools there are also bilingual schools where you “skip” grade 9 in order to attend a 0th year at high school that immerses you in a foreign language (English, French, German, etc.). Then, when you start 10th grade, some of your classes, like Math or Bioogy, are taught in that foreign language.
Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. Elisabeth has her sights set on the French bilingual gymnasium here in Banská Bystrica. Even though she’s still in eight grade she’s started the process I described above. We’ve visited the school, she’s been to an open house, she’s preparing for entrance exams…
Needless to say this is a big year for Elisabeth, though there’s not as much pressure as there could be. This year she can still look at this as a trial run because if she doesn’t get in this year there’s still next year.
We’re sensing at home that Max is transitioning to his teenage years. Already I see the mix of boy and budding man in him. Maybe nowhere more than in this clip from his recent voice recital.
At least for me, when I hear that “little” boy’s voice and see (at least what I see) that adventurous climber with broad shoulders and hands and forearms of steel and see (at least what I see) those eyes full of ambitions to climb the Matterhorn or the Eiger in the frozen winter, then I think about how little time there is with that little boy. I hope (and pray) that he’ll grow to have a passion for serving people and building God’s kingdom that exceeds any passion for climbing and conquering.
At twelve years old Max has the opportunity to go through a process of preparing for baptism at our church and it’s possible Max will make that decision. I hope that will be a first step toward turning his passions toward God.
I’m not sure Jana’s expecting any big milestones this year. She’s very happy to be just where she is. She’s learning to balance family and a job that is both challenging in a frustrating way (working with sometimes unruly children) and in a creative way (using music to teach English, writing/adapting songs and musicals). It’s great to see her excited about this ministry at Narnia Elementary School and to see her pouring herself into the challenges, learning and growing all the time.
2016 is going to be a big year for me no matter what because it’s a crossroads year.
In some ways, I don’t have much to show for 2015. But it was an important year because I refocused by letting go of some ministries that I think are outside my primary calling from the Lord. So, for example, I’ve stopped working with our college group and have stopped teaching at Narnia. Those are great ministries, but they were not helping me to accomplish the main task I think God has given me–help the church better understand and apply the wisdom of Scripture.
By refocusing I was finally able to devote myself to preparing my dissertation for publication. Last Thursday I submitted it to Brill and am waiting for their response. So 2016 is the year I hope to sign a contract to publish my book: “‘You Must Master It’: A Mythos-logical Reading of Genesis.”
The book is only the first step. This year I plan on writing and submitting three articles and I’ll also submit proposals to present papers at ETS and SBL.
Publishing might not seem like the best way to help the church better understand and apply the wisdom of Scripture but it is a necessary and fruitful starting point. One goal of my book is to help the church read the Bible better by introducing the idea of reading it as a story that moves from tension to resolution. This will help people make connections between the various stories and books of the Bible and better see how it moves from fall to redemption. That in turn, helps us to see how our own lives contribute to moving God’s story from tension toward resolution. My hope is that by getting the book and some articles published, there will be more opportunities to share this with the church.
I can already see the fruit of that. After speaking at ETS I was invited to speak at an evangelical seminary in Copenhagen next spring. There I’ll have the opportunity to share some of those reading strategies with students I would never have met otherwise and there will be an opportunity for my academic work to serve toward spiritual formation of the church.
Thanks for reading this far. Please be sure to read the next post with six key ways to pray for us in 2016.