In thinking back to my high school graduation, I remember feeling so sure of what was next for me. I had it all planned out. I knew where I would be enrolled next, I knew what I would study, I knew where I would live, I knew what I would be involved in. But I quickly learned that the certainty of my plans was a facade. My freshman year of college, and really my entire college career, did not go according to plan. At least, not according to MY plan.
I share that because, if you are a graduate, I imagine you are feeling some degree of uncertainty while graduating in the middle of a pandemic. Maybe your plan was to have a job lined up, and right now, a job is hard to come by. You might feel stuck and in limbo. And if you’re planning to continue your education, you might know where you’ll be enrolled next, but will you attend classes in person? Will you live on or near campus? Will you even need to? Will you be able to meet new people? Get involved in the ways you’d always hoped? And what will the world look like beyond that, when we’ve finally made it through? Needless to say, it’s hard to make plans during a pandemic. For all of us. Graduate or not. And believe it or not, that’s okay.
Because even if we were able to plan everything out, I’m sure you know that life doesn’t always go according to plan. For example, hi, hello, we’ve been blindsided by a pandemic. But, maybe, the uncertainty of the foreseeable future is an opportunity for our faith to grow. I know, crazy talk, but hear me out.
I am a planner to a fault, and I often feel pressure to have everything lined up perfectly, to have all my future ducks in a row. Sometimes, that can be exhausting. And as a graduate, you probably get asked constantly about your future plans. I remember that being exhausting, too. And so if you can relate a bit, maybe instead of feeling the pressure to have everything planned out, we now have permission to just take the next faithful step into the right-now plans God has for us. Even if we aren't entirely sure what the big, longterm, plan with a capital “P” might be.
I started to learn this lesson when I was in college, while life was not going according to plan. I was thrown off-course and found myself in a women’s Bible study, looking at the life of Abraham. In particular, I was drawn to the call of Abram in Genesis 12. Abram, who would one day become Abraham, father of many nations and a person we look to for an example of a faithful life.
What stood out to me at the time, and what still resonates with me today, is the fact that when God called Abram, God didn’t provide many details. “Go… to the place I WILL show you,” God said. God didn’t lay out a map to show Abram the path he would take or where he might stop along the way. God didn’t provide a blue print to show Abram how everything in his life would fit together. God simply said, “Go.” And we read that “Abram went, as the Lord had told him.”
It’s remarkable really, the fact that Abram responded the way that he did and was so willing to trust. And my guess is that Abram followed God’s lead without knowing all the details because he was keenly aware that God was good and faithful and trustworthy. So even if the uncertainty and the unknowns were daunting, Abram knew who he was being led by - Someone who was unwavering in their love and faithfulness. Someone who would never leave Abram’s side. Abram knew that no matter what the journey in front of him held, he was held, and he would never be in it alone.
As I mentioned earlier, I thought I had my future figured out at my high school graduation. But when I finally graduated from college (SIX years later, by the way), I had no idea what was next. And to be honest, I felt more at peace then - with no definitive plan - than I did at 18 with my ideal life blueprint in hand. I learned that planning it all out isn’t necessarily the best approach, or even the point. It’s certainly important to be prepared - we aren’t called to be reckless or careless or apathetic - but a life of faith is just that: a life that isn’t necessarily certain of the path or the plan, but a heart that IS confident in the One who is with us every step of the way.
When God called Abram, God said, “Go.” But in order to take that leap of faith, Abram ultimately had to let go. And when God calls us, the specifics might vary, but in order to step out in faith, we often have to let go, too.
We let go of the plans we were so sure of, and trust that God can see a better way.
We let go of the control we so desperately cling to, knowing that God works all things for good.
We let go of the uncertain fear, and rest in the knowledge that we are not alone.
We let go of the way it’s always been, and watch to see how God might be doing a new thing.
We let go of the comfort we often prioritize, and realize that growth is rarely an easy, enjoyable process.
We let go of our expectations, and believe that God can do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.
If you are burdened by uncertainty, stuck in the unknown, worried about the future, or mourning plans that fell through, it’s okay to begin loosening your grip. It’s okay to be open to new possibility. And it’s okay to embrace letting go.
Today, may we let go. And in doing so, may we remember that we are held by a God who is with us through thick and thin, ups and downs, twists and turns, and our God will never, ever let go of us.