It’s over. I never have to sit through class – boring or exciting – again. And while I’d like to feel an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness, I don’t know what I feel right now. I’m glad to be done with required reading and busy-work assignments, but yet I’m a little nervous about what happens now. Plenty of people have reassured me that I’ll be fine and that I shouldn’t worry about those things and I believe them. But yet, I find that I’m a little hesitant to rush into the fog.
Many of my friends have a lot of stuff planned out for the next year. A few are getting married, others traveling around the world, and still others are simply moving around the state for their new jobs. What am I doing? I don’t know. You got any good ideas?
I have the tentative plan to hopefully move up to Portland at the end of this summer, but I don’t know what for. I have a few friends up there and I think there are probably more job opportunities – even if they are more competitive. But I have no compulsion to go up there. I have no deeper sense of purpose pulling me towards the PDX. Quite frankly, I don’t have much of a compulsion anywhere, really.
This is the heart of the nervous feeling; that for the first time in my life I have no set plan for a solid chunk of my future. When I graduated high school, U of O was on my schedule for the next four or five years. Why did I come here? To get a degree because everyone knows that once you get a degree, girls will date you and paychecks will rain on your lap. But now that I’m done with school and have absolutely no plans for my future (and of course no girlfriend or pile of paychecks), I’m a little lost.
Figuring out life last year or two years ago wasn’t so bad; I knew I had time to figure things out, so I didn’t sweat it as much. I enjoyed daydreaming about possibly being a professor and amazing all my students with ecstatic and inspiring lectures. Then it was becoming an author like Donald Miller and writing witty, comical, and yet deeply-moving stuff (and only getting paid about a dollar for it). Earlier this year it was entering into a seminary to become a pastor who passionately preached from his former pain and experience. And then this time last year, I imagined myself as a lawyer baffling the courtroom with my persuasive words. But now that it’s over – that the grace period for figuring out my future has passed – I’m terribly nervous.
As I’ve been saying throughout the past couple of months, I think God wants me to sweat this out a little bit. And as I said earlier, I believe what my friends and family tell me – that things will work themselves out and I’ll be fine. But the realization of it all has been setting in over the past couple of days and it’s by no means comfortable. Waves are swelling high over the sides of my ship and my emotions are getting tossed around by uncertainty. I’m finding it difficult not to cry out to Jesus to calm the storm; I know He’ll only ask me where my faith is. This is why I find it no mere coincidence that Psalm 31 happened to be the next chapter on my nightly reading.
For the past month, I’ve been reading a chapter of Proverbs in the morning and a Psalm every night. Last night, as this nervousness really began to stir up my anxieties, I read through the words of David and felt as though nearly every verse spoke exactly from how I’ve been feeling. My heart soaked up the entire Psalm, but what really struck home was verse 24. It’s so simple and straight-forward, but yet exactly what I needed.
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”
That’s exactly the stage I’m in right now: waiting. I’m waiting to see what bread-crumb trail God is about to lead me down. I’m waiting to see what those bread crumbs look like. And I’m waiting to see what purpose God has for me. It won’t be black and white; God won’t email me about what it is. And like my Episcopalian friend, Peter once told me; I’ll have to live out the question rather than just ask it. But somewhere along the way – maybe not tomorrow or even this month – God will put something on my heart that will pull me towards a certain task, a certain people, a certain community, a certain city, state, or even country, and I’ll find out what I was supposed to do all along… because I’ll have already lived it.
Honestly, I think I’ve spent far too much time planning my own life based on the people I want to be with or the city I want to be in. I think I’ve done a lot of requesting in my prayers, but not much listening. He does not wait on me; I wait on Him. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man,” Proverbs 19:21 says, “but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” If Jesus to serve, then like good servants, we must wait for our Lord’s bidding. It might feel terrible, it might stir up all sorts of anxieties, but what it really does is test whether or not we’re actually listening for our Master’s voice – whether or not we hear Him when He calls.
“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand,” – Psalm 31:14-15a