Many of you are studying at theology college, or married to people studying at theology college, and I thought you might find this encouraging. Also any mothers among you, or anyone going through any season of life - which I think covers all the readers of this blog.
It's a Q&A from John Piper's How to Fight for Joy conference talks, which I've been listening to on my iPod. Enjoy!
Q. Do you have any practical advice for seminary students dealing with marriage and work and study and ministry - how to get through that, and to keep your affections with God, and not in all these other things?
A. Resolve to live as simply as you can so that you and your wife can work as little as possible and not burn the candle at both ends. Choose a simple apartment, eat simple food, don't eat out very often, don't go to a lot of movies. Keep your life pressured by things that matter: schoolwork, marriage, kids, health - "physical health does a little bit of good" the Bible says (1 Tim. 4:8). That's the first thing. Try to strip away the non-essentials.
And then, within the essentials, put your time with God in a place and a time that is sacred and inviolable. He does not get the dregs, not even after your wife. Meet him in the morning, and if you have to, get up 1/2 hour earlier. Do what George Mueller did. He said, "The first task of my life every morning is to get my heart happy in God, because I'm of no use spiritually to anybody if I can't share the delight that I have in God." Fight that fight. That's more important than assignments, marriage, children, and health. Keep yourself alive in God. When that's in its place, you can be a better husband, and you can be a better father, and you can be a better student.
If you weren't married, I'd say marry the right woman, namely a woman who can do without you for 3 years! (laughs) It does help to have a wonderfully self-resilient wife who says, "This is a season. This is a season."
Whether you're 60 or 16, life is seasons. There's a season with little kids in nappies. There's a nappy season, then there's a pre-school season, then there's a school season. Life is seasons.
And if you take any one season, then it feels like this is all life is going to be. No. Seminary is not the end of life. It's a tough season. Maximise it. Even the hard things. Maximise the hard things in it, for your own sanctification.
Then you'll enter into another kind of hardness afterwards.