A few days ago I received my Commencement packet in the mail. As I flipped through the pages, I was in something of a daze considering how long this day has been in coming. Hours of late night work, crying over papers I was sure would be the death of me, doing my best to keep up my grades through engagement, wedding, full time job and then early stages of pregnancy – and here I am: graduation!
Until my last class concluded in March I had always been sure of two things: I had to finish my degree, and we (Mr. M and I) needed to pay off his student loans to become debt-free. In March, I finished my Bachelor of Science in Religion and we made our last payment to Sallie Mae. I wanted to shout: “I’m FREEEEE!”
Once the excitement died down, however, I realized the things I had worked toward for so many years were now complete. The things that were certain were gone. Suddenly, the future seemed clouded with a fog of options and uncertainties, completely out of my control.
Every month I reassess my goals using Lara Casey’s PowerSheets. As I wrote down my goals for May I looked back at the goals I’d listed for 2015. I was a little astonished at what I could check off.
Pay off the loans.
Sell the car and get an SUV.
Become Homeschool Coordinator (a new position I’d been working for, which also happened in March).
Do one blog-related speaking session.
Graduate magna cum laude.
Have a baby!
(Yes, “have a baby” was one of my goals.)
I looked at the list with a sense of peace and satisfaction. But I also had a sense of uneasiness (if you can have peace and uneasiness simultaneously). What lies ahead? How will our life change in the next year? Will Mr. M or I have different jobs? What gender will the baby be? Will we move? What should I do with the blog?
All these questions spin in my mind as I look at the foggy future. Perhaps you too are graduating, or even if not you have questions of your own spinning over and over: What career should I choose? Should I take this job? Should I move? Should I switch churches? Should I date him? Will I get married?
As a Type-A person, uncertainty comes across as an enemy to me. It is the constant variable in my plans, schedules, and lists. It is the threatening visitor at the door of the future, not one of hope and opportunity but one of chaos and confusion – at least to my pessimistic mind. But here’s the thing about uncertainty: the unknown is necessary to the walk of faith.
Faith is confidence in that which we cannot see. If we already know everything, there is no reason to trust God’s plan or timing. We can easily trust our own.
Many of us – like me – settle for a ‘partial faith’ in a controlled set of circumstances. For the last year I have had uncertain moments, but three things I knew for sure: I needed to keep working, finish my degree, and help pay off the loans. Even when my circumstances fluctuated and hard things happen, those things were for sure. At times I put my trust in my duty rather than dependence upon God.
While we shouldn’t abandon our duties, we also shouldn’t let them dictate how much we trust our loving Lord. It’s much easier to trust God when you have a job and the money is coming in (no matter how small the amount). It’s much easier to trust God when you know you at least have to do this one thing before anything else. It’s the consistency we crave. It’s a point of reference we can keep coming back to even when life gets crazy.
Problem is, God should be that consistency. Jesus should be the point of reference. Even good things can take a place that belongs to what is Greater, and in allowing this to be so we are cheated of the close dependency a relationship with God requires. So while God was a part of my goals and subsequent achievements, my accomplishments had become my source of purpose – instead of the other way around.
As I look forward to the future today, not knowing where we might be in a year, what I’ll be doing, or what life will look like with Baby M, I have had to truly set my plans before the Lord and ask Him for direction in a way I have never done before. Before, I asked for direction within a realm of certainty: a job, a degree plan, or a financial goal. Now I must open my hands and say, “Whither thou goest I will go” with the same confidence as Ruth (Ruth 1:16).
The good news is God doesn’t leave us wondering where to go from here:
“From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:104-5)
“He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21)
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Psalm 25:9)
God doesn’t hide Himself when we seek direction. Sometimes we just don’t seek Him diligently enough to hear His answer. We want answers right now, and part of this faith-walk is having the patience to wait for the “voice behind us”, telling us which way to go. Notice also that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet – not to the entire road, but to our feet, casting a light only far enough to see the next step. That is the nature of faith.
If you are graduating this year, congratulations! Walk this road with confidence knowing that the uncertainty is necessary, but it’s not forever. Your Lord is walking with you, ready to light your path, teach you His way, and tell you which way to turn. We just have to be ready to listen.
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