Ever since I left ministry I have been frantically searching for that ever elusive "next step," that moment or action which will re-order my life, giving me something to orbit - if still somewhat chaotically - around. I've floated many ideas, some good, some bad, some simply crazy. I've chased the polar extremes of law school and social work. I've tried to peck out a living as a writer. I've punched into a corporate time clock, whoring myself in sporting goods sales. I've done just about everything but find some kind of direction in my vocational search.
Some of you have encouraged to to pursue an academic career, advice which is tempting because it comes out of a combination of my gifts and abilities. While I've always been pragmatic in my career search (will this job meet the fiscal needs of my family while also providing us with some stability), I must admit that the results have always been less than pragmatic.
Finally, a few months ago, I succumbed to the temptation to do that which comes naturally to me. Finally I stopped looking at all of the negatives which come with academia, and started looking at the positives. Positives like: It comes out of who I am at my core, and Damn it, I'm pretty good at this!
I have long since given up any sense of divine calling in and on my life. When I was a teenager I responded to every altar call I ever heard, feeling the Holy Spirit tugging on me, yanking me in this or that direction. I saw the course of my life in dialog with God, my personal history seen principally in terms of my relationship with God. At every moment I felt inexorably called, a part of the machinations of God's divine plan. Each moment in my life was ordained for me. All I had to do was discern where God was leading me, and how that fit into the divine order of the universe.
Of course I was called to ministry, and the only ministry I could imagine was pastoral ministry. But too many dreams have been dashed for me to so reckless chase my personal fancies as though they were divinely ordained. My aimless wandering is too much like that of the wayward slaves which formed ancient Israel after their Exodus from Egypt. There are too many voices in the conversation of my life for me to think that each of them are God, or that, if God is leading me anywhere, I could possibly guess where that might be.
So I can't say that I am called to academia. I can't lay that on God any more than I could lay the ashes of my once promising pastoral career on God. But I can say that I am moving closer to that always elusive "next step."
I just got off the phone with my former seminary. I have been accepted to study in their Masters of Arts in Religion program, my first step towards academia. Is this a new journey, or just one more turn in the road?
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