Timothy, the Rope contributor who can’t think of a better byline this week
I am a very ambitious person.
When I was in college I realized that I have a gifting for academic theology. I really love reading dense texts and writing theological papers. I began praying about it with my wife and we both decided that it was highly probable that the Lord was calling me to a career in academia. As I have worked over the past three years to achieve my goal of doing doctoral work with the eventual end of teaching theology and philosophy at the university level, my calling has been continually affirmed by friends, pastors, professors, and family. I am finally at the point where I am applying to programs and, because I am a very ambitious person, all of the programs I am applying to are the top programs in the country and only take between 1 and 5 people a year out of around 200 applicants.
To say I have been stressed out over the past couple of months would be an understatement (my fellow Rope writers can attest to my mental state should you need references). I constantly worry that my grades aren’t good enough (they probably are), that my master’s thesis isn’t as solid of a writing sample as it should be, that my GRE scores aren’t as high as programs would like, that I am just flat out not smart enough to get into the programs I want to get into. I constantly compare myself to others and find myself wanting.
Through all of this, my sweet wife has constantly reminded me that God is not bound by my math scores on the GRE, that he is faithful to his calling. Yesterday I was blessed to listen to a fantastic sermon by a classmate in my preaching course. The sermon text was Romans 9, possibly the most contentious passage of Scripture in our churches. Romans 9 has consistently been the battlefield on which the Calvinism debate has been fought. In the words of my friend, Blake, who preached the sermon, “This passage smells of gunpowder.” Blake went on to show how the passage is actually not a contentious one, but one that offers comfort to Christians in a beautiful and profound way.
Romans 9 essentially serves as a reminder of the faithfulness of God to keep his promises despite constant outside threats. There was always the threat that humans would completely fail, that they would be killed or unfaithful and that the covenant would die with them. In the garden of Gethsamene Jesus prays that the cup that he is about to drink from may pass from him. He was surrounded by the threat of temptation to unfaithfulness as well as the threat of betrayal by one of his closest disciples. Romans 9 tells us, however, that God is faithful, that he always preserves his covenant and his promise.
I was reminded through Blake’s sermon that if God has called me to doctoral work he will surely make a way for that to happen.
His call on my life is not contingent on my own success, but rather on his own faithfulness.
This is true for all of us. I firmly believe that God has a call on every person and I think we spend way too much time agonizing over what that calling is. Live into the promise of God’s faithfulness, resting in the fact that he guides us in the same way he has always guided his people.