A little under a year ago, I felt a crippling and ever-present anxiety over where God was calling me after college ended. As I looked into opportunities that were all vastly different from one another – a job at Lloyd’s of London working in the insurance industry, a job at a PR firm in Nashville, and the Capital Fellows program in Washington, D.C. – the pressure I felt to discern God’s will for my next step was at times overwhelming. I wasn’t alone. Throughout college (and even now), I was and am surrounded by Christian friends and acquaintances wrestling with questions of God’s calling just as I was. We ask…
Is God calling me to take this job?
Is he or she who God is calling me to marry?
Does God want me in _____ city or _____ city?
Our search for these answers can render us paralyzed in our choices. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that God is sitting back, withholding his elusive directives from us as He waits in the shadows to see if we will choose the correct path. And wait we do, hoping for an epiphany from above and often blaming ourselves for not searching hard enough if it fails to appear. At the same time, though, these questions can also be exciting and invigorating ones for Christians. What could be more motivating than knowing that the paths we choose have real meaning? The God of the entire universe has a purpose for who we are and who we are becoming, and so our individual callings have meaning in light of a much, much bigger story than our own.
In Genesis 13, Abram has left his home and everything comfortable and familiar behind to obey God’s commands. Upon his arrival at the land God has called him to, God again speaks to Abram and promises him that all of the land he sees will be his offspring’s until the end of time. This offspring is to be innumerable. These promises are direct. They are the kinds of specifics that my sometimes anxious mind wishes God let me in on. Especially in my current post-grad stage of life, I crave a list of promises from above like God’s to Abram, preferably neatly arranged in practical bullet points:
“You will do ________ for a career.”
“You are called to marry ______.”
“I want you to move to _________.”
But then I read this passage again. It strikes me that God waited to reiterate these promises to Abram until after Abram obeyed Him in faith. Before he could again hear God’s voice, Abram had to first choose to take a step forward. This choice required great trust, as God’s promises through human eyes seemed fairly implausible. The land God promised to Abram was not yet Abram’s, and his wife was too far too old for childbearing. Yet these promises were indeed fulfilled and Abram got what many of us wish for – a roadmap showing him exactly what was planned for his life. Still, this does not change the fact that he still had to face the same choice many of us face: whether or not to trust God not knowing what was ahead. Like Abram, we are fooling ourselves if we think that a roadmap could solve all of our problems. At our cores we are sinful, and sins such as striving to be our own gods will still be present this side of heaven. But even in this, there is great news: God’s sovereignty is not reliant on how much our human hearts trust Him, or how well we can discern His plan. There is no “if” or “sometimes” when it comes to whether or not He is in complete and total control.
I am learning that God’s will is not a tightrope for me to navigate. No wrong decision or lack of discernment about our callings will cause us to fall off of our respective tightropes and out of His plan. Why? Because those tightropes are a figment of our imagination. The truth is that God has given us new hearts in Christ Jesus. As we seek to learn more about what He desires through knowledge of His word and communion with Him, we can move on from our paralyzed states. We can, like Abram, take the next step forward in faith in spite of our lack of trust. We can do this with confidence, not in our own wisdom, but in knowing that He is well-pleased with our desire to please Him.
Kate Moody works in Public Relations, focusing particularly on social media. She is a member of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.
Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATightrope_walking.jpg by Wiros from Barcelona, Spain [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons