Being in the final semester of my undergraduate studies, the questions and fears about what is coming next are a constant conversation topic. People talk about how things change and friends are leaving, they have heard of other people who have already graduated who are having a “good” but challenging time –feeling lonely and lost, but learning and growing through it all. Most post-graduates are not in the job position of their dreams, if they even know what those dreams are.
Not only after the change of graduating college, but any major shift often brings a desire for renewed purpose, direction, and almost a divine appointment. We long for all of the cards to fall into place, and often understand God’s will as what we would imagine it to be…which is often the job that fits our skill set and passions, with a great boss, a good pay, and living with great roommates in a safe neighborhood.
As these conversations seem to be happening more frequently, I have been reflecting on such matters, and was encouraged by a hero of mine: Shane Claiborne. Shane and John Perkins have joined together to talk about leadership and followership in their book, Follow Me To Freedom. Shane brings up a splendid point:
“Early in my youth, way back in the 1900s(wink), I spent a lot of time thiniking, ‘What is God’s will for my life?’ You know how it goes– as if the whole universe kind of revolved around me. One day, I caught this idea from a priest: “Good things come to those who wait, but great things come to those who get off their butts and go find God at work.” That’s a very different way of thinking of things. And its very liberating to know that I dont have to wait for God to write a magical forumla on the wall for me, but I can look around for where God is at work and join in. Instead of staring at my sandals, I walk out my front door and look into the eyes of my neighbors…
As we seek God’s will, it seems to me that one way to discern our calling is to ask: How do my gifts intersect with the needs of the world? We really come to life when our gifts meet with the needs of the world around us. That’s where the Kingdom happens. We are made to live for something bigger than ourselves. A leader who really begins to bear fruit is somebody who’s felt the needs in the world and then said, ‘So how do the unique gifts that I have intertwine with that?'” (pg. 82-83)
It is absolutely important that the Spirit of God is leading us in every step. The funny thing is, is that often times it is blantantly clear where that may be… it is all over scripture: care for the poor, the orphans– be a place where healing can happen. There are specific places for each person that Our God will take each of us. However, often times that leading may come as we participate in God’s work right around us. We will learn what we like and don’t like. We will gain new relationships and experiences, and most likely, new passions and visions for how the world can be better. For those who are in the midst of major life transition, me being one of them, we may have nothing we are going towards next. There is no plan. Some may be moving home, moving to a new place, starting a job (even if it is to just pay rent). Like Shane points out, “We really come to life when our gifts meet with the needs of the world around us.” Through living life, doing the things Christ has called all people to–caring for others in all ways– we further discover our gifts, and I would argue, experience true fulfillment and joy.
So…life beyond college. I haven’t been there. I have just heard about it. I have heard great things. I have also heard more difficult things. I am not saying that we can all avoid difficulty and trials, or that we even should. The Lord has that for us too. But for those who are waiting. May we enter into the kingdom that the Lord has placed at our reach. May we delight in the fact that we have meaning, and God has chosen us to take part in His work. The unknown future is often frightening. May the Spirit of God give us courage, gentleness, and peace to take part in the sacredness of His kingdom right before our eyes.