The first semester of Fourth Fellows certainly felt like a sprint, a five-month sprint. I doubt sprinters allocate some percentage of their energy to reflect on their life while they run, but perhaps Usain Bolt is even more impressive than I previously thought. Thankfully, the two-week winter break this past December provided some time to step back from the whirlwind of those five months and consider what it all meant. As I reflect on the first semester of Fourth Fellows and look forward to the second, I find it interesting how much of the Fellow’s life can be characterized as “in-between.”
If you were to ask a Fellow why they chose to participate in their program, one of the most common answers would be they were seeking to discern what is next for them regarding their career or education. Fellows programs provide a structured year to do just that. Many Fellows find themselves in the in-between stage of knowing their passions or gifts, but not yet understanding their calling. This in-between can be daunting, but it pushes the Fellow toward reliance on God. As Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:4).
Starting new friendships from scratch is sometimes difficult. Once the adronitis fades, however, you realize how many relational building blocks are found in mundane, everyday things. Repeatedly playing the same card games for an hour (or two). Side comments which weren’t really funny the first time but become funny the more you repeat them. Obscure movie references that only one other person understands. Fourth Fellows provides space for these small moments between the big moments, where a community of strangers can collectively realize they aren’t so different.
Christ came once and he will come again. Christians find themselves in-between those two advents: the “already-but-not-yet.” John Stott references this when he writes in The Disciple, “To be sure, we have ‘tasted the powers of the coming age,’ but so far it has been only a taste.” In addition to the immediate community of the Fellows, Fourth also provides the community of the church – a church which awaits Christ’s return and commits to praising God and serving the Kingdom in the meantime. The in-between can be an uncertain place. However, there is comfort in knowing that for this year, God has called me to be a Fourth Fellow. As I look forward to the second half of the program, I am excited to lean into the in-between stages which encourage reliance on God, fellowship with others, and anticipation of the new heavens and new earth.