Over and again, my pencil scratches out the same strange symbols in a chart with crooked lines.
NS ος η/α ον
GS ου ης/ας ου
This quarter in seminary I’m taking Greek. Last quarter I took Interpretive Methods. I loved it and at the same time felt a smidge like a slacker for only taking one class. Today I’m drowning in thankfulness that I don’t have another class along with Greek. Greek is memorizing. Scratching out paradigms (that’s what the above barely-begun chart is called) until they are perfect. Memorizing vocabulary and breathing marks and articles.
Earlier this week, I flipped book and discovered I’m going to be memorizing paradigms for a long time. Chart after chart to learn equals day after day of practice. Bits of knowledge will eventually compile into a body of information that I can use. Just this week, I actually translated a few small phrases from Greek to English. The work is a gift; seminary was a closely-held dream for years. The gift is also the work; it means nothing if I won’t put in the time.
I’m not taking Greek to get a grade to check off a requirement so that one day I can get a degree. I am taking Greek so that I can use it. So that I can read it. So that I can engage with the text of the New Testament and the Septuagint and the early church fathers. Knowing my aim means I’m approaching my study time as an investment and not a burden.
Thinking about farming guided me as I contemplated not getting discouraged in the minutiae of memorizing. Farmers get up early, work long days, battle the weather and animals and even their own bodies in hopes of having a harvest that will bring life to themselves and others.
When I study Greek, I want to bring that spirit of cultivation with me. In many ways, this viewpoint has helped shaped all the work I do. I’m looking twenty years down the road in parenting, learning, developing relationships. I’m not going to give in to defeat when I don’t see results next week or even next month. I’m doing daily work, but that work is guided by the vision of a harvest coming later. I’m not choosing my work based on what seems most impressive today but on what will be counted faithful over a lifetime.
In 2021, goals can be a hard thing to talk about. But if we’re talking about ordering our lives, look far into the future. Ask God to give you a vision of what He wants, who He is making you to be. Then design your daily work from there.
DS ῳ ῃ ῳ
AS ον ην ον
I’ll be moving between mixing cookie dough and writing a paradigm to see how accurate it is. Reviewing vocabulary and sounding out English letters with my kindergartener. Meeting with my translation group and working through 1 John with the teens at church.
One day, I’m going to be able to read Greek. That’s the harvest vision guiding my work today.