What have I always known about my life? I often hear people, speaking about vocation, say they have always known they had a passion for… or wanted to be…; but I’m not so sure. Frederick Buechner writes originally in The Sacred Journey,
By the time I was sixteen, I knew as surely as I knew anything that the work I wanted to spend my life doing was the work of words. I did not yet know what I wanted to say with them. I did not yet know in what form I wanted to say it or to what purpose.But if a vocation is as much the work that chooses you as the work you choose, then I knew from that time on that my vocation was, for better or worse, to involve that searching for, and treasuring, and telling of secrets which is what the real business of words is all about.
When I was young, maybe 9 or 10, I distinctly remember the realization that my life would involve working for God. That is everyone’s vocation really, right? What did I know then or sense at least that made me know that?
One is that I have always been a deep thinker– pondering my life in unforeseen ways. Like the time we were “camping” in my backyard in our small town neighborhood of tract homes. I think I must have been in junior high school. My friends at the time, I don’t even remember who they were for sure, wanted to leave the relative safety of our fenced-in back yard and venture out into the neighborhood around midnight.
Even though I knew my parents were sleeping and really weren’t of dispositions to check up on me, I didn’t want to do it. It wasn’t the right thing to do and I stood my ground; they went.
I remember my inner voice that was strong even in the face to face encounter with peer pressure. It wasn’t concern that I would get caught; it was my own inner voice that didn’t think it was a good idea, even though I was confident my parents would never know.
What was that strong sense– God in me? I can’t say for sure but I know for certain that a sense of God’s presence was always with me in my teenage years, lifting me above my life and propelling me forward.
What else would compel me to go to Hardin Simmons, a university over 1000 miles from my home that I’d never laid eyes on; to get on a plane when I had no idea where I was going much less how I would get from the airport to the school.
That year really was one of blind (and I do mean blind) TRUST. I have no idea how that year changed me and maybe that is it, trust. Trusting the ride home at Thanksgiving with a crazy hippie girl who drove a VW and picked up hitch hikers, I knew getting to come home at all was a kind of miracle even though being home was not.
Somehow I knew that year would not be more than that one year, so far away, but it gave me a taste of trust that did suspend me above heartbreaking family life. It moved me beyond what seemed real to see myself as capable and smart and even a writer for the brief moments before my 1:00 composition class and a thinker in that biblical studies class where I dug deeply into highlighting thematically every verse in the New Testament.
That same sense of trust brought me to the large midwestern university and then to Florida for an internship– again with NO IDEA how I would make it–so many miracles really. That blind trust seems to have waned or is it growing up?
What do I know about choosing or being chosen by God? How do I enter that place of trust again with confidence that God is ever-present in ways that I don’t even know?
When I, like Buechner, consider the miraculous work of the spirit undergirding even my wondering and wandering around in the wilderness, my strong voice inside and my deep thinking and writing have brought me to this new place.
Fortunately I know to trust, yes, trust that I am not alone, that my real life is above just circumstances. I will take a new step everyday into unknown places that are solid and full of incredible possibility. Is that a vocation?