It’s easy in school; most of us can state with hesitant confidence that God wants us right within the major we chose. And if we’re wrong, there are only 41 other options to choose from. But what happens off campus, when our choices expand exponentially? Unlike the world, which defines success by health and wealth, Trinity Western University teaches us to pursue success by heeding the will of God. We even dare to admit that God’s will does not necessarily guarantee our health, wealth, or even happiness.
But here we stop, making the rather generous assumption that His will at least takes into account the nature of His creation. If God has given you a gift and passion for the arts, surely He will incorporate this into your calling. With this principle comes the weighty challenge to discern God’s will and maximize these gifts—to use your degree to the fullest extent.
But the reality is, we serve a God who called a prophet to marry a prostitute; who sent an Egyptian manager to prison for a false crime; who called a rich farmer to work for years as a servant to his future father-in-law. We serve a God who very well may call a Biology major to work at Starbucks after graduation.
Without even our own divinely-given nature to point us in the right direction, what then can we use as our spiritual compass?
Perhaps we can borrow some advice from Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, and consider the Bible’s medium itself as the message. If we believe the Bible to be flawless, then we must apply this to its content and its form- the form of narrative. God chose to reveal His most important truths to us through a series of stories. It is through this lens that we must also read our own lives and talk about them with God, through prayer.
Prayer essentially involves taking our story seriously. St. Augustine models this in his Confessions, where he pours out the story of his life, all his youthful wanderings, sin and conversion, as a prayer. Like Augustine, we must come to realize God as the better storyteller, the divine author of life at work in our life. Rather than praying to God solely in petition or thanksgiving, we should not forget to also prayerfully reflect on the narrative of our lives—to pray our stories to God. In this way we come to recognize the movements of His sovereignty and even participate in his authorship. Narrative is uniquely suited for addressing all three forms of knowledge: the physical (empirical), emotional, and spiritual. Stories tell us facts, make us feel truths, and ultimately, reveal the character of a sentient and dynamic God.
Anticipation is an inevitable result of this understanding. Who doesn’t want to flip to the next page and see what happens next to their life? And yet, as Director Zack Snyder reminds us, we are not the primary story-teller, not even the primary character, in our own lives. Often we never see our labour take fruit. We can only read along in faith that the plot twists never stop coming.
As we strive to continue living with purpose, we should be careful not to deceive ourselves with falsities about “time well-spent.” “The good life” is about living a good story, not productivity or even peace.
Don’t dwell on your dark night of the soul. Take it to a night at the round tables in the Lower Caf. Tell your story to someone else, and listen to theirs, because it might be about you.