"Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst."
-the fortune of one of the most depressing fortune cookies I've ever consumed
As graduation approaches, I've been thinking and praying and thinking more and more about what direction to head in next. It was simple and easy to outright reject the option of getting a Masters degree in social work. (Gross.) Apart from that, though, I've really had to no idea about where to pour all of my energies. I would apply for something if I knew that's what I actually wanted or if that was what God wanted for me, but it's been pretty vague and the clock is ticking down. Three weeks and then---I literally have nothing lined up for me besides maybe possibly a Peace Corps assignment in a year.
So of course my first instinct is to get all introspective and pray about God's "calling" for me. A couple of weeks ago I received this word from God during a church women's retreat:
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
-Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Matthew 5:10 via The MessageHAH. Wow, thanx, God. You really know how to lift a girl's spirits. Anyway, it got me thinking about how I've been reluctant to really bear all and give up my entire future to God's hands because I am afraid to suffer for his sake. It actually makes me anxious and fills me with dread. Um, I've had a taste of what it's like to share Christ's sufferings and it was dark and icky and uncomfortable. Yuck. No, no, no, no, no, no, NO--THANKS.
So I'm trying to get "unstuck" from this mentality of resistance. This whole process has revealed to me how selfish my motives are in following Jesus (I'll take the peace, comfort, personal purpose and meaning without the cost and sacrifice) and I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, do I really deep down actually want to know who Jesus is?" Hah, because it's starting to become very clear that actual deep fellowship with Christ means sharing in his sufferings (see Philippians 3:10-11).
Waah, I just want to be coddled for the rest of my life. God, wrap me in a cocoon if ignorance from the tragedy, brokenness and evil of the world until I die, okay? I've had enough exposure to people's heartbreaking trauma. Nooooo, why did you make me sensitive so that I feel things???
I've been reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer lately and it's been a good wake up call from all of my inner musings, angst and evasion of confrontation with the living, terrifying, true God. ;) I've been thinking of complete surrender to God and letting go of certainty and control as submission to a life of intermittent misery and pain. Pretty bleak, right? But the thing about Bonhoeffer is that he keeps pointing people to Jesus Christ. Yes, there's a cost. Yes, there's suffering...yet it's all about Christ. That's it. Game over.
Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self denial can say is: "He leads the way, keep close to him" (88).So instead of agonizing over the specifics of my future, or trying to make comprehensive cost-benefit analyses of possible next steps, my focus of late has been to try and really get a better sense of who this Jesus guy is. Who is this Christ who is asking me to suffer for his sake?--who is inviting me into deeper communion with him through persecution?
Only in that context will I be able to hear his call in the first place, and then, hopefully, to obey.