If you haven’t been to the Inn yet this year, you have been missing some great talks.
A few weeks ago I had a student come to me seeking some advice. They had just gotten a job they have wanted for a while, but they were unsure if they should take it. The main reason they were conflicted was that taking the job meant they would be unable to fulfill their Student Leadership commitment for the year.
Needless to say, I was super impressed with this student because they were actually taking their SL commitment seriously! Props. As we continued to talk, though, I realized that this student was also struggling with the decision because they felt it carried significant spiritual consequences. Essentially, they told me that they were torn because, in their words, staying here and continuing on with SL would be completely oriented around God, while taking the job would not be. Somehow, they had come to believe that God was more present in one of the choices than the other. Somehow, the choice between what seemed to be two great opportunities had become a choice between pleasing God or not.
I share this story because I think it highlights a tendency in our generation to constantly see things in life as right or wrong, good or bad, black or white. Even in our spiritual life, we see things as either part of God’s plan or not. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are clear, easy distinctions and I think God would prefer we chose the smart thing when we know what it is. But what about stories like this one? What about when the choice isn’t between “good” and “bad”, but between “good” and “good”? I think we have a hard time making decisions between two good things because somewhere along the way we have been told that even when the choice is between “good” and “good”, there is still a “preferred good” and a “lesser good.” And that rating system is based on the size of the sacrifice required and the impact made.
What I loved about Janie’s message from week two was her point that God’s love and promises have nothing to do with how amazing we are, but everything to do with how amazing he is. God’s love for us does not hinge on how much we sacrifice for him. For this student, staying here and continuing on with the commitment they made would definitely have been the more self-sacrificial thing to do. And maybe the people around them would have praised their devotion, but it wouldn’t have earned them any extra “God points.”
The truth is, God will be just as present with them in their new job as he will if they stay here. The same is true for all of us. But I think in order to trust that reality we have to test it. My hope is that this student will take the job and keep their eyes open. I’m betting they will see God all over the place.
Chris Sherman, UMin Missions Coordinator