For the first time, I think I kinda honestly answered the dreaded question, “So, what do you want to do after college?”
THE question that lurches me into think about the future & past & present & all things at once & it’s terrifying, but I think I answered it.
Now this answer sprang from my mind in kind of an uncontrolled & unthoughtout manner. So, bear with me as I analyze & try to think about how what I have heard recently has influenced what I believe I wanna do after college. It came from other’s words spoken this past week & the desire to truly tell someone I respected what was on my heart for my right now & my future. As you can tell, it’s been an incredible couple of weeks of listening to Godly people speaking some good things about their own lives & hearing what God had to say about my life in those words.
Over a week ago a beautiful lover of Christ, a friend, & recent graduate of my university came back & did chapel Monday morning & I heard about wild obedience. “You’re a bondservant to Christ”, the radical idea that my freedom purchased by Christ also binds me to Him, & how that gloriously means that the steps I’m taking & will be taking are wrapped up in His wonderful grace, love, & good intent for my life. With God, I can confidently, with an uncertain & human heart, walk forth in faith, knowing that if I’m recklessly abandoned in following what Jesus loves, that that will put me in the center of where He wants me, today & in the future. I also heard a MUCH needed truth about being intentional & present in the right now instead of always thinking about where my future is. My heart heard, “Be so sure of Jesus that fill in the blank doesn’t scare you.” Not the future, not tomorrow, not politics, not other people. & I soaked in the fact that God was calling me. Not “future” me, but me. Today, right now. On the daily, I am called to wake up & say, “What is Your calling for today God” YES. Today. Not in 2017 when I graduate. Not when I get a job. Not when I start a family. But right now, student, unemployed, & single as a pringle me. I’m gonna think about the future, it’s not about abandoning thinking ahead, but it’s about abandoning the idea of the supremacy of “what will future you do” & making “what is right now me doing & am I following Jesus’ call on my life daily” more of a priority. I needed to think & hear about these things & realize & be intentional about being daily called by Jesus, so that where I’m going is where He’s leading, not where I or anyone else is pushing or pulling me to.
It sprang from my summer trip to Africa & my desire to go back, as I watch my beloved Uganda go through political upheaval as they have elections. I think of those I met & I think of my desire to drop everything & leave it all, knowing that I need to be here at school doing this, because God has led me here. I’ve found so much good here & have grown to listen closer & have many that mentor me to listen to God better & to follow His calling on my life & I know leaving it all behind is more of a “I don’t want to be stressed out anymore, or responsible anymore, or take Anatomy & Physiology anymore, & I’m done with tests, quizzes, & education” than it is about doing what Jesus says. The good thing though about realizing I’m in the right place is that I firmly believe God took me from high school & picked me up & put me here for right now where I am. I’m not throwing away my Africa desire & dreams, I’m finishing what God said first. I’m making ready for whatever this place He brought me to is preparing me for. I pray & long to see Africa again, & my desire to go back is becoming an ever echoing call in my heart. It’s not forgotten. It’s not for right now though, & coming to terms with that is a fight, but walking in Jesus’ will daily dictates that I have to listen & have wild obedience to Him. It’s not easy, it takes patience. Sometimes tears of sorrow & heartache pour out of me for the friends I left in Africa. But right here, I’m learning that what I do now is God-filled & purposeful & when I’m back in Africa, if I’m back in Africa, it’ll be when God says, “It’s time, go back.” Then all bets are off & I’m going.
The answer came from listening about parables tonight. If you’re like me, you’ve heard them for your whole life, but tonight I heard them in a different way & from a different perspective. Parables are for adults, not just fun & comforting stories for children. The facts suggest that actually, unlike the way I was taught & thought about it before, parables are supposed to move us to action & move us to not only listen to what God says, but do it & be active about being the child of God that we should be. I want to be an active voice for myself & others. I want to listen to people & stories from the Bible & be able to see the many different ways that Jesus is speaking to me, even if it makes me uncomfortable. I wanna see the direction, the humor, & the divine love that God pours out in His word. & that’s not always comfortable. The prophet Nathan didn’t tell King David a parable about two shepherds & their sheep to comfort him, but to tell him that he, like a greedy & dishonest shepherd, was wrong for having taken Bathsheba & for having killed her husband. I’m positive David wasn’t feeling too comfortable when he realized the “shepherd” that deserved to die for taking what wasn’t his wasn’t just a fanciful story, but a word from God about David killing another man after sleeping with his wife. & I’m sure King David was also broken by the grace that God heaped upon him. No, he wasn’t exempt from sorrow or consequences, but God calling out David & Bathsheba wasn’t a place of comfort. It wasn’t PG rated. It wasn’t a story just for children. It was, like so many other parables, a lesson that isn’t a complete story. Details are left out. We are left with pieces of stories, like the parables of the Good Samaritan & the Prodigal Son. We have the opportunity to read, listen, hear, think, & digest the story, hearing what God is saying to us in our circumstance. The lecturer I was listening to, Amy Jill Levine, a phenomenal professor from the Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences, changed my whole perspective by introducing new ones & saying so very many life changing things for me, but one specifically that stuck out to me was the idea that confirmed the previous idea of being free in Christ & bound to obedience in what I did, read, thought, & said. How I need to listen instead of taking control. How sometimes what is making me uncomfortable is a bold flashing sign that means stop doing that & start listening. The idea that being in a place of hearing something or hearing God that doesn’t make me wanna be better, do better, & step out in faith is the place I should be afraid of becoming complacent in. As Amy Jill Levine said so perfectly & succinctly, God’s parables & words aren’t all about one interpretation or one idea. They aren’t just nice little stories. They’re told with many purposes & namely to call us out of our position of apathy & into a position where we think & say, what am I doing, how am I thinking of this, what is the history, what made this this way, & how do I be the child of God that I was made to be?
Oh, you wanna know the answer? I guess that’s fair. I said, “I don’t know. I think I want to pursue law & help people. At least that’s what I’m pursuing for right now. I have a passion to help people. I want to help those I would call my own as well as strangers & the world. I wanna be a voice. I wanna be an active part of change. I wanna stand up for men, women, any race, any creed, any religion. I want to be a voice of grace, love, generosity, & support. I want to help broken people. Maybe as a lawyer, I don’t know, but I feel called to a vocation that lets me grasp & use a broken system/systems to help people that feel like they don’t count & are broken themselves.” & I really meant that & I meant more & there are things I feel that I can’t even voice yet. The answer rushed forth in a moment & maybe that’s why I am labeling it like this. I wasn’t trying to convince my professor or myself. I have a passion to help broken people because God changed me & what He’s done in my life has taken me from a purposeless, broken person to a intentional, loved, and purpose-filled woman who wants to heal up other’s hurts, physical & emotional, mental & spiritual by using the voice God gave her to FIGHT for others. & being born into the opportunities I have, I don’t want to waste my love of people & my love of God chasing only financial gain. I don’t want or desire destitution, but I don’t desire something as temporary as dust gathering wealth. I want to provide for myself by providing something better for others & simultaneously share that the God of infinite love & care, even in whatever has happened, in pain & brokenness & uncertainty, lifts us up out of what we are in or where we are & provides for us.
I want to do what God purposes me for, & He’s given me a love for history, politics, loud arguing, & people. His people. All people.
I want to USE all that. I wanna be me. I want to go back to Africa & help people. I wanna go outside my dorm, in my own town, in my own nation & help people. I want to be present for my friends & family. I want to always be becoming a better person & running after God & find the person that is also pursuing God with as much uncertainty & faith as I am. I want to be intentional about my todays so that I am secure in the fact that Jesus is leading & because I don’t have control, I can step forward & say “right now, I’m following Jesus & He’s got me where I am. & tomorrow I’m following Jesus, & He’ll get me there. & forever & in the future days that keep beginning & ending, I’m following Jesus, because being His is my only certainty, & I’ve come this far with Him & you better believe that wild obedience to Him is the best freedom I’ve found.”
I am grace covered & I want to show others the One who gave grace to me. I want to chase God, find my vocation, & live a life where I love Jesus & do whatever I want, knowing that from listening & doing what Jesus has been saying that doing “whatever I want” means going where He says to go. & in that place I’ll know I’m going the right way with what I’m choosing because I chose to stop, listen, & follow Jesus first. It’s all about this giving up of control of MY life & MY ways, knowing I don’t know better than the One that created me. Because I want others to see beyond whatever I am, whatever that is, & see that I’d be wrong, lost, & broken if I stopped listening & pursuing what God has for me. All in all, I’m saying that stories from the Bible, the idea of being free but wildly obedient, & the faith that I can’t explain led me to say, “I don’t know” but that sure as heck doesn’t mean I have to worry. Because guess what? I’ve decided that intentionally choosing Jesus daily is what is going to lead me to pursuing a vocation where I am exactly where God wants me, doing exactly what He wants me doing.
& that might not be exact or cement or even stable in the eyes of many, but seriously, what is there in life that can be 100% certain anyways?
If I can say anything with certainty, it’s that I’d rather be reckless in the eyes of many by putting my todays & tomorrow’s in the hands of Jesus, who is far more than just capable. & I want to trust His plan for me rather than my narrow-minded & often selfish plans for myself. Because it’s not about me being in control, in the end, it’s about being obedient to the call that says, “are you willing to believe that giving up your plans means that you give in to Mine?” I’m ready for wild obedience because I’m ready to live my day to day out in full freedom to & in Christ. I know, it might not seem to make sense, but what kind of faith is faith that makes total & utter sense?
I’m just so glad to be safe in the arms of the One who’s goal is to love me in the direction of loving others–no matter where that kind of future leads me or what I’m doing or who I’m with, I’m ready for the future because my future is with Jesus. No matter what or where that leads me to, I’m gonna leave it up to someone who actually knows. That’s what I’m gonna do in college, after college, & for the rest of my days.