Joseph and My Amazing Technicolor Graduation Obsession
Graduation is in less than 100 days (the countdowns have started). I’m doing a lot of planning. And—dare I say it?—not a lot of praying.
Fasting from Grad-School Websites
When Lent started in February, I knew immediately the one thing I most needed to—and would most struggle to—give up for 40 days: looking at grad-school websites.
There’s nothing wrong with looking at grad-school websites, of course. On the contrary, God will likely use them to guide me toward my next steps after college. But for me, what started out as a practical hobby escalated to idolatrous levels. Constantly checking and double-checking application requirements was taking up a lot of time that I could have been spending with God and with people. It was also robbing me of joy, and demonstrating that I don’t trust God with my future.
So, closing the Internet and taking a deep breath, I opened the Bible for a taste of what it says about trusting God with the future.
Hebrews 11 provides an inspiring list of Old Testament heroes who trusted God. The implication is that we should have faith like them. But how? Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Finding Your “Cloud”
What is a “cloud of witnesses”? It’s the believers—found in Scripture and in your own life—who have gone before you and have an influence on you.
Joseph took a place in my “cloud” recently when my pastor preached about his life. The guy was sold into slavery, accused of rape, thrown into jail, able to interpret a dream while in jail, summoned to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, and appointed Pharaoh’s right-hand man. “That’s not the career path Joseph would have chosen to become Pharaoh’s right-hand man,” my pastor mused, “but it got him there nonetheless.”
The winding career path of Joseph reminds me of the older believers in my “cloud” who received undergraduate degrees in urban planning or music education and then became campus ministers or sports journalists. These mentors give me perspective that my undergraduate degree, my past, and my plans influence but do not direct my future—only God can do that.
To gather a cloud of witnesses, look to Scripture (maybe starting with Hebrews 11) and to the believers around you. Ask a mentor, a pastor, your InterVarsity staff worker, professors, and anyone in your field of interest how they got to where they are today. Listen to their stories, take their advice, and praise God that he hasn’t abandoned them.
Neither will he abandon you.
Loving the Author of Your Story
God is the “author and perfecter” of our faith and our very lives. He won’t be surprised or confused when you get a job offer. And he isn’t withholding that job offer from you just for kicks. As the perfect Author, he has a story prepared just for you, with your unique gifts and passions.
Dan Allender writes in To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future: “If you love the Author, then you must love the story He is writing in and for your life.” It takes faith to “love the story He is writing,” though. Perhaps we don’t like the story’s current chapter or don’t know the story’s next chapter. But, as we love the Author and strive by faith to love his story, Jesus remains all the while the author and perfecter of our faith.
So let us fix our eyes on Jesus.
And let us fix our prayers on Jesus. In times of confession and repentance, give to God things that pull your eyes from Jesus. In times of intercession, pray first that Jesus would be glorified in your future and second for any applications, tests, and interviews that might allow that to happen.
And then, in thanksgiving, praise God for specific ways that he has guided you through college and for the plan he has for your life after college.
What Scripture passages have encouraged you to trust God more deeply?