Last Saturday, my son Jake walked across the stage of the Psychology School commencement at UNC-Wilmington as part of the Class of 2013. Two days later, he returned home to begin the next phase of his life, but not before taking his own personal memories-tour of the campus where he spent a significant part of his life to date.
I wasn’t with him, but I can imagine how he felt. I did the very same thing many years ago as I said goodbye to my college campus and life. There were inner smiles mingled with tears, as I revisited the moments, the events, the friends I may never see again. It was heart-warming and terrifying at once. Where was I going next?
On that day in May, I never dreamt I’d be walking across a new campus just a short year later. No idea that God would call and direct me to a seminary campus and into ordained ministry. In fact, my stock answer when oft asked by others, “Religion major, huh? Gonna be a preacher?” was “No way!” And those “No ways” continued until God surprised me the following spring with a call to go, which was every bit as emotional as my last walk across the old campus.
But that’s what happens when we say Yes to following Christ. The call can come at any moment, and it can take us completely off-guard. When the call of God comes, expect a few things:
- Saying goodbye to the last phase of life can be difficult and emotional. That’s not a bad thing – it can mean that you recognize that old phase as a gift from God.
- There may be smiles of remembrance, tears from loss, and butterflies of trepidation. All normal.
- There may be a “No Way” response. Again normal. Pray through that part.
- If you are responding to a call from God, you’ll grow closer to God and more like Jesus as you walk across the next stage of your life.
As I survey the biblical landscape, it happens almost too many times to count: to Abraham and Moses and Gideon and Hosea. To Peter and John and Mathew and the rich young fella with all his worldly possessions. So many people whose worlds were completely rocked when God called. I’ll bet your favorite person in the bible experienced it, too.
It’s the graduation time (teachers and professors prefer commencement, and for good reason). It’s a time when students consider the next phase of their lives. But it’s a good reminder for all of us. Following Jesus is never about standing still. It’s about always being attentive to the call. There’s almost always a new stage to cross.
Where will you be this time next year? Same old same old? Probably not, if you are seriously being attentive to the Lord. Because while God may not call you to make a radical change (and then again, he sure might), he is always calling each of us to change. He has promised to conform each of us into the image of his son (Romans 8.29).
Where will you be this time next year? Only God knows.
I hope you have fun finding out.