Sunday is my husband Nathan's twenty-ninth birthday (Ugh! Still another year before he joins me in the thirties.). As my husband and the father of our two children, I love him for many reasons: I love him not only for who he is but for who he has helped me become.
I've had dozens of teachers over the years, most of whom I've liked and several who've shaped me as a person and as a teacher myself; but Nathan is my favorite teacher. When I met him, I was satisfied with the level of education I'd attained and the knowledge I currently possessed, and I typically accepted what I was told by those in "authority" without much independent thinking. Those who know Nathan know he's certainly no rebel, but he's not content to blindly accept whatever a teacher or preacher asserts. From Nathan, I learned to think critically, to think for myself, to remember that biblical passages must be read in context and that Scripture itself is our final authority. I learned that it was okay to listen to those intuitive doubts I had about doctrinal positions I'd been taught most of my Christian life and to search out the answers. (Together we've listened to sermons on Eph. 1 and lectures on hermeneutics; Nathan's even passed on articles about textual criticism and a book about the proper application of Christian liberty.)
Unlike most teachers I've had, Nathan doesn't always answer my questions for me. Instead, he points me to a reference in which I'm likely to find the answer. During our first year of marriage, I was teaching college-level American literature for the first time. As Nathan headed out to a night class at Pensacola Theological Seminary (PTS), I told him I'd be studying nineteenth-century evangelist Charles Finney for an upcoming lecture.
"Oh, that heretic," Nathan replied.
"What? He was a heretic? Why? How?"
"Look it up."
And so I did (and found my first soap box; though, except for Nathan, to my dismay, I couldn't find an interested audience). I appreciate that my husband respects me enough not to give me a quick answer with a "you're-just-a-woman-so-you-don't-need-to-know-all-this-deep-theological-stuff-just-trust-me" attitude. In fact, he's encouraged me to learn far more about the Bible and theology than I ever knew I could.
When Nathan came home from PTS classes taught by Dr. Jerry Hullinger, he'd tell me what he'd learned. Not only was the content of the courses interesting, but Nathan's enthusiasm for learning was contagious. I decided that I wanted to know more myself and so enrolled in the Liberty Home Bible Institute (LHBI, part of Liberty University). Though the certificate in biblical studies I'm working toward is a far cry from the Th.M. Nathan's currently pursuing at Dallas Seminary, LHBI is shaping me into a better student of God's Word and has given me at least a partial understanding of many topics Nathan's studying at DTS (and, thanks to Nathan, when my teacher references authors such as John Walvoord and J. Dwight Pentecost, I know whom he's talking about).
Without Nathan's influence, I wouldn't be studying feminism in the church or developing my thoughts into blog posts. I wouldn't be learning the Greek alphabet or planning to tackle a theology textbook this summer. I'd be stuck in an intellectual, academic, and spiritual rut, thinking that, since I know enough to get by, why learn more? My husband has made me realize that when it comes to learning, there is no limit. I look forward to his future ministry--be it in a Bible institute, college, or seminary. If he's had so much influence on me, I can only imagine his impact on the masses.
Happy Birthday, Babe! "I'm your disciple."