Choosing schools, for me, was more akin to drawing lottery numbers than a real and intentional search or decision. I was going to go to New Orleans Theological Seminary when Katrina changed my plans for me. Undergrad was just the same. I went to Samford merely because I went to Samford. It was the only school I applied to for some reason. I often feel like I am stumbling into whatever circumstances without any real plans. I have never understood those individuals who were waiting for God’s final say. They look for a neon sign hanging over every encounter they come across that depicts the direction they are to go. I guess I have just missed the boat. All I can think is that I am sorry for those individuals that whip themselves trying to manipulate God to answer their insecurities and fears.
I have come across two verses in my life that have changed me to the core. Only two have really bent and formed me so dramatically. One of these comes from Isaiah and speaks to this very issue. Israel has turned away from God; God is going to bring them back in the usual method; and God’s grace is reaffirmed. Then…there is this odd phrase:
“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.”
Right or left? This ambiguity is a little uncomfortable for us isn’t it? We want the lighted path. We want to know the mind and will of God. Isn’t that what it means to be a Christian? We follow the path laid out for us—the lamp at our feet. The scriptures have all the answers, like when I need to pick between renting or buying a home here in Wilmore…right? Or maybe "God is not the micro manager” (Meeks, 2010) we are so desperate to make him. I don’t mean to imply that we should cease praying. No, no, no. I do mean that faith is stepping out first and trusting that even with an unfortunate choice God will mold us closer in his image. In the Isaiah passage, the voice is a metaphor borrowed from shepherds, who use to follow their sheep, and recall them when they go out of the way. It is a loving affirmation that the choices we make matter little in light of God’s loving intention for us.
Ambiguity should not be confused with insecurity. This ambiguity that I boast is the most secure I have ever lived. It finally resolves itself in the resignation that the voice affirming my every move is the culmination of my faith. The choices that I am faced with day-to-day serve to give me opportunities to stretch me upward. My rather peculiar and blind stumbling, though hard to watch for many of you, is a beautiful boast in the one calling out behind me. This leaping out can be difficult, but somehow, I find this to be the single most amazing grace in my life.