Everything is kind of overwhelming. Practicing. Pedagogy. Latin exam coming up. Choir concert coming up. Beginning to rehearse The Lark Ascending with the orchestra in two weeks. And of course, the possibility of grad school on the horizon.
I find life a little frightening right now. And I've discovered something. The truth is, I'm afraid of my life because I don't trust deep down that God is going to care for me, even though He promises that He will. And I don't trust that He will care for me because some nasty part of myself keeps telling me, even though I know it's not true, that I haven't worked hard enough, and God's not going to bail me out now. (Please don't tell me this is bad theology, because I know that. And I don't feel this way because of personal experience, either, because He's always cared for me above and beyond.)
I thought a lot about grad school today, and about the different directions my life could take. So many friends and acquaintances have graduated from college, married someone from the same college, settled down within a few miles of said college (often even working there), stayed in touch with the same circle of college friends, and begun to have babies. And in a way, this life appeals to me. And if God is calling me to a life like that, then that is what I must do.
But my teacher said something to me a few weeks ago that has given me a great deal of food for thought. He mentioned long-time acquaintances he has from the Wheaton area, friends who have led a life very close to Wheaton for years - attending Wheaton, staying near Wheaton, perhaps teaching at Wheaton or taking a staff position at Wheaton, marrying Wheaton sweethearts and raising baby Wheaties. And he made it clear that he cannot judge those people or even hint that they might not be doing the will of God - for that is between them and God. He simply told me that that was not the sort of life he himself had been called to, and that this fact had been clear from an early age based on the talents, gifts, and opportunities God gave him. Sometimes God is calling us to step out into a bigger circle than we've been in before, and sometimes He's given us gifts and talents and callings that are beyond the edges of what feels safe.
I have spent these past few years studying music, and the world of music is a world desperately aching for the truth of Christianity. So while one life I envision for myself involves a life of raising a family and playing my violin in church on Sundays - and this would be a wonderful and valuable thing, and perhaps I would be happy to do that for the rest of my life - perhaps I need to step out a bit farther and do something more. It does seem strange to be devoting myself to study so that I might be better equipped to reach the world for Christ and for His kingdom, and to then remain in a sense in the Christian college bubble for the rest of my life. My teacher was commenting on this phenomenon, and it's something I've thought a lot about before, too, as I watch my friends grow up and wonder what kind of life I want to grow into. What kind of life does God want me to grow into?
All of this made me remember a quote from a good old chick flick, You've Got Mail:
Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void.
I've had this quote running through my head all morning. "Do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?"
I'm worried. Worried about change, worried about courage, worried about making the right decisions, worried about the significance of my life. Some days I feel like life is a giant game, where I just keep moving my playing piece forward a tiny step at a time into some cosmic void of repetition, only to do the same thing the next day and each day following after that. Then other days I feel like it's all so overwhelmingly important.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about music and calling and faith lately. I've been reading a great collection of essays by teachers from the Indiana University string department back in the day, and the one by my teacher in particular was very, very good. I've been thinking about some of Douglas Yeo's articles, too. I posted many excerpts from his writings over the summer, and I've been re-visiting those. This one in particular keeps coming to mind:
Because where are those who do not believe? Where are those who are in darkness? Where are those who do not see the light? Are they only in churches where pastors preach? Are they only in villages where missionaries toil and testify? Are they only in junior high youth groups where young leaders try to get through to the teen age mind?
No. They are in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. They are at Stop and Shop and Walgreens drugstore. At Starbucks. Wandering the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts and dancing on stage at the Boston Ballet. They are reading journals about architecture, magazines about sports cars, surfing the internet, they are walking into doctor's offices learning how to treat their diabetic child or hearing they have only months to live when that devil cancer is eating away at their liver.
All of those people need to see the light. Most will never darken the foyer of a church with their shadow. All of the full time Christian ministry workers in the world will not bring them to understand Christ because they are not where those workers are. They need the light, but how shall they hear without a preacher who comes to them?
You see, wherever you are there are people who need the Light. And the excellence with which we do what we do - as unto the Lord - gives us an opportunity to reach people we might not otherwise be able to reach. Excellence attracts those who want excellence. We do what we do as unto the Lord - WHATEVER we do. Whether it is play the trombone, or write those articles, or paint those pictures, or jump those hurdles or swing that bat or bale that hay, or counsel that unhappy couple, or teach that Sunday School class or even teach a college freshman music student what a Neapolitan sixth chord is. For in each of those callings - and indeed they are CALLINGS every bit as real and significant as being called to the foreign mission field - there are people you will meet and see and interact with who are longing to see the light... And you may be the only person God ever puts in their path who will tell them what they need to hear.
And why will they listen to you? Because you have credibility in their sight because: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. You give your work your very best because your work is an offering for the Lord. And God is very concerned with the quality of our offering, make no mistake. When he asks for our first fruits, he does not want our leftovers. Let us never forget what he has done for us and why he did it.
For a world lost and dark, there is hope. The sacrifice of Christ on our behalf assures that God will look at us with Christ's righteousness credited to us... When we consider this undeserved gift that God has given us, how can we give him less than our best?
This calling you have - whatever it may be - is honored by God. You need not feel that guilt that you are not doing what someone tells you you should be doing. You simply need to be in that place where God calls you - whether or not it makes sense to you or anyone else. Because God will have you, in the words of the old gospel song, "Brighten the corner where you are."
(From On a Mission From God)
I love the violin. I hate the violin. I don't know what I want to do with my life. I want to go to grad school and play Beethoven and Brahms and Tchaikovsky and have a life filled with music. I would hate grad school and the people would be snotty and the pressure would be too much. I want to play violin forever. I want to quit violin. I want to be single. I want to get married someday and have kids and raise them and be a wife and a mom. (All this = I don't know what I want.)