Graduating from college seemed to rob me of purpose.
In December 2012 I officially graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago (much to many of my guest’s surprise who strangely think that because of my degree from Moody I should try to be the pope, true story). Don’t get me wrong, that is great news. It means that I get to move on; I get to experience the world; I get to participate in God’s plan in new ways. This was exciting!
Except it wasn’t.
When I left Moody, I had no idea where I was going. I had no idea what I was going to do. I had no idea who I was. Am I a (soon to be) pastor? Should I be a businessman? I’m clearly no longer a student so what should I do?
This difficulty was further compounded by the fact that I could not find a job…at all. So I ended up having to swallow my pride and move back home.
Wait. Isn’t this what failures do? Don’t failures move home to be back with mommy and daddy? Chris, you’re a failure. You have no idea what you want to do, you have no job, and you are living with your parents. Failure.
That word failure echoed throughout my being to the point that I started truly believing it.
It took a little while for me to hear God remind me of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because I was believing my own gospel and the strange thing is…I preferred my own gospel.
Why? Because it put me at the center. It took my desires and my wants and made it just that, all about me. So I allowed myself to wallow in my pit of pity and and sit in the chair of isolation.
It would be a lie if I told you that as soon as I started reminding myself of the gospel everything started getting better. Quite frankly, it didn’t. In some respects I got more depressed. I was fighting the hardest battle, the battle of belief. I had to struggle to believe that God did not frown on me because I was not performing well enough. I had to struggle and fight to believe that Jesus was/is rejoicing over me job or no job. I had to struggle to believe that God is good and He was/is leading me. I had to struggle to believe that my sin did not disqualify me from His love, grace, and person. I had to struggle to believe that God is not vindictive to grant His approval in tandem with a discovery of my purpose.
And here’s the rub: I already had all of that in Jesus Christ. I have been joined to Jesus Christ and invited into His very person, to participate in the life of the Trinity. I have been invited to play in God’s story. This has radically redefined who I am. Because of my union with Jesus God fully delights in me, no strings attached. He looks at me and instead of saying (or seeing a) “failure” he says (and sees a) “son.” A son to whom he gives His love, His compassion, His grace, His approval. So I repent of my unbelief and pray that God will stir this belief in me.
And I still continue to struggle.
So where am I now? Now. I am a bartender (yes, a bartender) at Bar Louie. God was very gracious to grant me a job (the story of how I got this job is nothing short of miraculous) at the community “watering hole.” And it has been crazy but soooooo good. I get to pray for my co-workers, seek their best, be liberated from myself, practice being faithfully present in this place.
THIS is what it means to be liberated and to fight to believe it every day. Repentance and belief.