Reviewing my spiritual journey this morning made me realize again just how little life really works as a checklist. Which is so very annoying to type-A people like me! But the things God has been teaching me about and refining in me have primarily remained the same throughout the last several years – just revisited over and over, maybe from a different angle or to a different depth.
In a lot of ways, I expected that after graduating from college, I would have reached some pinnacle. That my spiritual learning and growing would have reached completion, just as my academic learning has ended. That’s laughable, really. I hadn’t realized that I was expecting to hit some plateau……but I’m pretty sure I was. The almost three months since graduation have proved very obviously that my spiritual journey is nowhere near the end, and won’t end in this life. I will always need God’s gentle—or sometimes not so gentle—reminders to be focused on Him and trust in Him.
As a college senior and now as a recent graduate, the obvious question I get asked a lot is “what’s next?” Through a couple of ways (Ireland and SP internship), I’ve managed to procrastinate on actually coming to a solid answer on that, pushing my “deadline” further into the future by nearly four months. But that hasn’t been overly helpful. Instead, I find myself rather less certain about what I want than I did back in April and May. But that is a good thing—even if it is rather uncomfortable—because it’s been God’s leading and guiding that has been throwing a monkey wrench into what I thought was a pretty perfect plan. Things have not gone as I expected, but He is still in charge of that.
In that process, God has been reminding/teaching me a lot about living out surrender and practicing trust in Him day by day. This month has been a tough lesson in that. I currently have three options before me of what I am interested in doing next. Each one is something that God has laid on my heart in different ways, but I can’t do all three—at least not at the same time. One is more rational. One is more comfortable. One is something only God could bring about. I catch myself planning as if each one is what I’ll be doing in September. But right now I really don’t know which way the compass is actually pointing.
A couple weeks ago, I posted about that on Facebook. When I got on the next day, several of my mentors and close friends had posted comments on the status. Most of them were reminding me that God gives us free will, and that this may be an area where He would be leaving the choice up to me. That was a really good reminder for me, because honestly I’d been wanting and waiting for God to write some big message up in the sky of what I was supposed to do with my life.
TIME OUT. I should add here that something else God reminded me of the past couple of weeks is that He doesn’t “need” me anywhere. I need to have a proper perspective about this all and remember that it’s not like I am some required resource, without which God can’t do His work. Whichever choice I make, God will continue His plan in all three places. I think part of the reason I’m so tempted to stress out about where I’m going to end up comes from trying to carry WAY too much responsibility about it. As if God’s work in other people’s lives depends on me being there. And it just plain doesn’t! Sure, He may choose to use me – but I am not a required tool that will make or break any situation.
So back to what I was saying – God may leave the choice of my next step up to me. I hadn’t been thinking about that side of the equation at all, and it’s true. I may get to a point where I have three wide open doors, and I have to make a decision on which one to walk through. Right now that’s not the case…right now I’m still knocking on a couple of the doors, waiting to see if they’re actually going to open. But there may come a point when it’s all up to me.
And yet even in that moment, if/when it comes, I don’t want to make a choice based on what would be most rational or most comfortable or what I “ought” to do. God has been teaching me so much about trust and surrender over the last couple of years. And while those will both always be part of my life, it seems especially applicable now. He’s brought me to this place in my life and been teaching me these things up to this moment for a reason. My desire is to be available for Him to use however He pleases.
Four years ago, I would never have pictured myself standing where I am. The things I’m looking at really weren’t on my radar. It is amazing to look back and see how He has been leading and guiding, placing various things in my life. After the Facebook post I mentioned, one of my mentors posted a link to the next morning’s “Our Daily Bread” reading on my wall. It was called “The Winding Road,” and I obviously stole the title for this blog post. It was a really perfect reminder, and just what I needed to hear.
And so I end with the prayer that concluded that reading.
Dear Lord, sometimes life seems to be full of perilous and winding roads. Thank You for giving us the assurance that You have our course plotted and are watching over our every step.
Troubles are unknown; God's providence is certain.