For the first time in approximately four years, I have no new consistent entries in my Google Calendar past December 20th (graduation day!).That may not seem like a big deal for those of you who like to live off the charts, but I love structure and I love when my schedule has structure. It allows for me to set goals and makes my life more predictable.
Having the opportunity this year to meet and get to know more freshmen has made me realize how much I’ve changed… and how much I still don’t know. As freshman-Karli, I looked at seniors who weren’t sure what they were going to do after graduation as lazy and slightly crazy. I mean, honestly, after four years of school you have no idea what you’re doing after you get that diploma? That sounds like a ship sailing for disaster.
Now, 51 days away from graduating (Lord willing), I’m sailing the exact same boat. Funny how judgment often comes back to bite you in the butt.
Initially realizing that I have no set plans put a little fear into me. Playing the compare and contrast game, it’s hard not to look at peers and other friends who have graduated are in full swing on the next phases of their lives. I know the grass looks greener on the other side, but at first glance, I saw myself as somewhat of a failure. Not in a pity-me-I’m-pathetic manner, but in such a way that I had convinced myself somewhere along the way I had missed opportunities to succeed.
This year I’ve had the privilege of co-teaching middle school Sunday school at my church in Blacksburg. Two things I’ve learned thus far: sometimes I am NOT smarter than a sixth grader and Jesus can speak some pretty amazing things through these “little” people. This year we’re studying Daniel. Yes, the book where men are fed to lions and live and kings turn into grass-grazing beasts.
Beyond the familiar stories Veggie Tales has so creatively depicted, Daniel’s life is more incredible the more I read through it (if you’ve got a minute, just peruse even the first few chapters and you’ll see what I mean). A young man, probably the age of one of my students, was taken from his home and culture to serve the government. This guy lost control and order of his life, but really only cared about one thing: his relationship with God.
Through a series of unbelievable events, Daniel reaches a point in his career where the king is so impressed by him that he promotes Daniel to a position in the royal court. Did he see any of this coming? As a teenager, probably not. Did he prepare for his position by pursuing a life that was power-driven? Far from it.
Where am I going with all of this? When I see Daniel, I don’t see a person who brown-nosed the king to get what he wanted. I don’t see a person who pursued what he wanted to make other jealous or simply make himself look successful. I see a faithful man who saw his relationship with God, the one who gave him head knowledge and ability to interpret dreams, as the single-most important thing regardless of any position he filled.
Does that mean if he wasn’t committed to God he would have been a poor, nameless nobody? Absolutely not! Why else do we see all these other poor leaders Daniel serves under in authority? God is far less concerned about how we look to the world in our success than he is about how we interact with him. Whether I become the next president of the United States, or end up pumping gas in New Jersey for the rest of my life, is practically irrelevant to the purposes God has set up for me.
Paul, a writer of many letters in the New Testament to various new churches, wrote this:
“11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
I can do ALL THINGS. Not “all things if I get the perfect job” or “all things if I become super successful,” but all things, in any situation. Now that’s a pep talk for the day!
I love the idea of adventure, but hate the idea of being “off the calendar.” I can step out of class today and simply follow my Google Calendar to the next event, or as a part of the trust I have with my relationship with God, I can simply ask, “Where do you want to take me next in pursuing a committed relationship with you?” I can follow my simply planned schedule, or step out completely exposed and vulnerable knowing I am under something bigger that my God has opened up to me.