As I’ve been thinking about graduation, there’s a lot that I don’t know. To be honest, the uncertainty has been overwhelming. I don’t know what I’m going to do after graduation. I don’t know what kind of job I’m looking for, or if there will even be one at the end all of this. I don’t know where I want to go. To be quite honest, I’m still trying to process the mere fact that I went back to grad school — even though I’m almost done. Haha. In this season of life, I’ve heard myself say “I don’t know” more than ever before because I honestly just don’t know.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized the root of my anxiety was not fear of the unknown, but because I felt responsible to have answers in order to prove God as faithful. If I don’t have a happy ending to my story of obedience, then people might conclude He is a God who leads His people into disappointment. I feared that if I couldn’t prove the reward for my obedience, then my life would be a display of a God who doesn’t come through. And if so, people might walk away. I confess it’s rooted in pride; I was just as shocked when I discovered this was the weight I was carrying without even realizing it.
But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe (if I’m not being overly optimistic) not everyone is looking at fellow believers to find a reason to leave. Maybe there are some who are desperately looking for a seed of hope in their fellow brother or sister for a reason to stay, to press on, to keep choosing into a life of surrender and obedience. Maybe that person can be you — and me.
Because maybe what’s even more anchoring than the reward at the end of obedience is the radical witness of an individual who continually chooses to live surrendered and obedient — even and especially in the midst of uncertainty. There’s something extremely strange but simultaneously attractive about it. The former wins the eyes of those looking for what they can get out of Christianity. The latter captivates the hearts of those willing to lose their life for the One who willingly lost His on their behalf.
I’m learning that the Christian life is not the call to prove to the world that God is good. God is not anxious about His reputation going haywire. The Christian life is living with a deep heartfelt conviction that God is good even when we find ourselves on the edge of a seat labeled faith, when we don’t know what’s next, when we can’t guarantee what lies ahead. But here’s the good news: our foundation is not based on the stability of our unforeseen future; Jesus Christ is the solid rock on which we stand. It doesn’t get any more stable than that! And I’m convinced that seeing one man live with that truth as his foundation is greater proof of the goodness of God than a million theological debates packaged with eloquence and finesse.
I’m reminded of Peter’s response to Jesus when a crowd of disciples made their exit and decided to stop following Him. Jesus turned to the twelve and asked, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?” Peter’s response leaves me shook: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).
Peter chooses to stay. Not because he knows everything with certainty, but because he is certain about one thing: Jesus is the Holy One of God who is worth giving up everything to follow. No other way is comparable to Jesus Christ who is Himself the way, the truth, and the life. I’d be a fool to think myself greater than Peter. He didn’t have answers to give to the crowd, only a deep conviction of who Jesus is. And that was enough of a reason to continue to follow Jesus to the end.
Unfortunately in the 30 minute span it took to write this blog, not much has changed. Haha. There’s a lot that I still don’t know, and to be quite honest I don’t think I’ll ever reach a season where “I don’t know” is completely eliminated from my experience. And that’s okay. Because while there is a constant choir singing “I don’t know” over my head everyday, there’s a voice that rings louder and truer in my heart. It is the voice of Love that met me in my brokenness. It is the voice of Reason who spoke through a janitor to tell me to go back to school. It is the voice of Courage who spoke through my atheist boss to push me to leave my job so that I could “do something with my faith.” It is the voice of the Provider who paid off my loans so that I could not give an excuse for not going back to school.
It is the voice of Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God.
This I know with all of my heart and it is all I need to know to continue going in the way that He leads me — even if it is through the valley of I-don’t-knows. And who knows? Perhaps, just maybe, someone is walking that very same valley looking not for your reward at the end but for your conviction of the goodness of God in the process — for the sake of their own Christian journey. There are people desperately hungry to see someone live a life of obedience and surrender because when he/she does, it give others the permission and the faith to do the same. The mantle is yours to claim on behalf of the next generation looking up to you. Will you take it?