The classic Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, is a popular book during graduation season. Its childlike inspiration brings readers hope of what the future might hold: a great adventure awaits as we prepare for another step in life. Big moments in life are exciting because they carry such a sense of wonder and adventure. The horizon of life is large and the possibilities can seem endless.

It often feels this way on the front end of things, doesn’t it? Sure there is some anxiety and fear in there, but the rush of adventure and excitement is stronger. Often that is how “callings” are pitched to us. God calls us to something big and incredible. It sounds fun, exciting, and maybe even dangerous. It will be risky, but in the end we know God will provide.

I recently ran across an interesting part of Acts that helped reframe all of this for me. The often-used rally cry of the church is found in Acts 1:8 when it reads, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (NRSV).

Wow! How exciting? A calling like this sounds pretty incredible. Did Jesus just say “to the ends of the earth?” How does that work? Sounds like that might include a few hotel stops; maybe some great sight seeing along the way, and I bet some incredible tasting food.

But you know what? It didn’t quite pan out that way.

It’s funny how God works. In fact, we begin to find out in Acts 8 that this calling was partly fulfilled because the church was being persecuted. They were going to the ends of the earth because they were on the run for their lives. Reading this passage began to reframe my understanding of calling. Being called may not be easy, and it may not look quite like I expected it to look.

It was just two years ago when I was dreaming of heading off to seminary somewhere. I had spent all 25 years of my life in Northwest Arkansas (Go Hogs!), but God was calling me to something new. I couldn’t wait to head off to a new place, learn incredible things, and encounter new people and experiences.

I knew going to seminary was preparing me for a lifetime of service to the Church, I just expected it to be a little easier. Adjusting to graduate level schooling after being out of the academy for three years was difficult. Pulling up roots and planting my wife and I in a new place proved to be a hard adjustment. Just like in Acts, sometimes our callings work out in ways we don’t expect. My challenging years here in Atlanta and at Candler have deepened my faith. The dream I had in my mind perhaps wasn’t quite real, but my experience here has been. I’m thankful for professors who really care for their students. I’m thankful for a diverse and welcoming Candler student body. I’m thankful for a challenging and respectful academic atmosphere among faculty, staff, and students. All of these have helped me adjust and live into God’s calling for me.

Soon, I will begin my third year at Candler. Next year, it will be time to move on to God’s next calling. My next great adventure is just around the corner. So in a sense, one journey is starting its final tour, but my next is just starting to rev up. I still have a deep sense of adventure and excitement, but now I go into this next great adventure with a deeper awareness and sensibility as to what it means to follow God.

“And when things start to happen,
don't worry.  Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

- Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

Photo credit: Frank Kovalchek