It took me three years to figure it out. 

The answer, that is, to the two most frequent questions friends at church have asked me since I started a master’s program in biblical studies in August of 2011.

“So why are you doing this exactly? What do you plan to do with your grad degree?”

These are legitimate questions to pose to a woman in the autumn of her life–a season when one traditionally begins hunkering down to prepare for retirement, reduce the velocity of life, and enjoy extended rest. Why begin studying Scripture so intensively now in what is unarguably my third trimester of living?

The answer is so simple I missed it until after I turned in my final paper two weeks ago.

When you’re hungry, you eat.

     When your soul is growing lean, you seek sustenance.

             When good food is within reach, you don’t pass it up.

My commencement ceremony is now in the rearview mirror, but here’s the prodigious thing every student learns. Commencement is just the beginning.

 You’re not finished; you’re just getting started.                           

        With privilege–to learn, to stretch, and to grow–comes responsibility.                                     

            When you’ve been well-fed, you want to be sure no one else goes hungry.

With mind-numbing exams, multiple evenings of research in the library, countless academic papers, and 42 intensive credit hours behind me, I’m no longer carrying the heavy backpack of time demands I have for the past 36 months.

But to grasp the diploma in one hand and reach for the remote control with the other? To drink deeply of the fountain of knowledge, wipe my mouth and walk away?

 To whom much is given, said the Master, much is also required.

Starting this month, First Baptist of Wheaton is offering each member the opportunity to engage Scripture in a fresh way through the Community Bible Experience (www.CommunityBibleExperience.com), an eight-week Bible reading program that allows readers to approach the books of the Bible as a complete narrative sans chapter and verse breaks and study notes.

I’ve offered to serve as a host or leader if needed. Because I have nothing else to fill my time? 

Not quite that. Full-time work sometimes overflows its 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. banks, and our Sunday Night Sisters mentoring program for college women starts up soon. I’m also eagerly looking forward to hosting a Tuesday evening neighborhood Bible study taught by my awesome neighbor and OT scholar, Sandy.

But despite just having finished three years of intensive Bible study, I want to be part of CBE whether or not a small-group leader is needed. I can’t wait to plunge back into the New Testament with fresh eyes and open hands this fall.

No need to ask to ask why. I already know.

Hunger pains.