Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Defined by God

What defines you? And how would you settle the question?

Some years ago I was on career path in Academia and things were moving along smoothly. I was going to be a professor, and I was associated with some prestigious institutions in my field. But then at the very end, things weren't working out and I decided to leave the Academy. I started to work for a software company, but I was still sort of plugged into the research community. I was still getting e-mails from people in the field, from Washington policymakers or journal publishers or professors who wanted me to review their journal articles or contribute to edited volumes and stuff like that. 

About this time, I was also asked to write an article for a Christian magazine about some of my supernatural experiences. I wrote an short piece about trying to resurrect a young man from the dead. His mother was a friend of ours and her son had had an untimely accident. A few of us had gone down to the morgue and talked our way in to pray over the
body. After I wrote the article, a little bit of time passed. Then one day I got an e-mail from an academic journal publisher saying, "Dr. Seng, would you please review this article as a guest editor for this issue."

This made me think, "Say, do people still think of me as a scholar?" so I Googled my name. The first thing that came up was "Jordan Seng tries to raise the dead". 

At that moment I knew my academic career was over. I knew that when people typed "Jordan Seng" into the search engines, they would never again think of me as a responsible Harvard scholar. That's a funny story, and it was a funny afternoon for me.

Trying to raise someone from the dead is one thing I've done that settles the question. It shows that God's mine and I'm God's. Clearly I'm defined by him. Hopefully you don't have too many of those opportunities this week. But what would it be for you? How can you settle the question of what defines you? What thing would you have to let go of? What sort of life would you have to pick up? 

To hear more about this idea, check out my recent sermon "Defined by God".