Today I graduated from Truett Seminary. It took me three and a half years as a full-time student to earn a Master of Divinity degree. Fifteen of us walked across the stage for this December graduation, accepting the diploma from Baylor president Ken Starr, shaking Dean Garland’s hand, and sitting down to wonder … what next?
Graduates and family members were invited to a special brunch this morning at the school. It’s a tradition. Usually the graduating class is large, but since ours was so small, the dean invited all graduates during the brunch to take turns standing at our tables, introduce ourselves, and share what we plan to do next.
I inwardly groaned. It was a valid question, but I had no good answer. I didn’t want to admit in front of everyone that I don’t have a job yet. Talking about it kind of makes me feel like a loser.
Turns out I am not the only one with an uncertain future. About half of the group had a “I am looking/applying” kind of response. Transitions are hard. Looking for work or applying for more graduate work takes time and energy … two commodities that are lacking when you are striving with all your might just to get to graduation day. I was glad I was not the only one who had yet to secure future plans. I think we could relate to each others’ pain.
During the past five months I have had several instances of what I call “anxiety dreams.” That’s when the things that I worry about during the day become manifest in my nighttime dreams. Situations never work out well for me in those subconscious, imaginary stories. On a day of particularly high stress, I sat in church and heard my pastor read aloud the account of Moses, the Israelites’ uncertain future, and the pillar of fire and smoke.
The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and a pillar of fire by night to give them light… (Exodus 13:21)
The pastor’s message that day went its own direction, but I was stuck on that scripture. It was like I heard God telling me, I am God, and I go before you. My husband and I had already decided we will move to Austin, but I wasn’t – and still am not – certain what awaits there. God told me that day that he would be there.
As if that wasn’t enough, a few days later I heard someone else read the story in Scripture about Abram and God’s call for him to leave his homeland.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you…” (Genesis 12:1)
I sat there, stunned. Maybe it sounds vague now, but in the moment, I knew it was God communicating to me. I go before you. It was the same message, but in different words. God wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it. God was telling me to calm my heart. Though I am on an unknown path to new places and an uncertain future, I can be certain that God is the one clearing that path. God didn’t say it would be an easy journey – Moses and Abraham certainly did not have it easy. And it will not necessarily be a road I would have chosen for myself. But I can know it will be a good path, and that I do not go alone. God is there, and he beckons me on.
My greatest desire – to live a meaningful life that brings honor to Jesus – is what naturally flows from a life of following where God beckons. Being prayerful, attentive, and faithful in daily steps will fulfill get us through periods of uncertainty.
God goes before us. And one thing I know: blessings tend to flow in the wake of our creative, redemptive God.
Wanna guess what Scripture was read at graduation? Genesis 12:1-3. Go forth … I will show you.