I dread being asked what I'm studying in college, because I know that as soon as I say "theology," I'll be met with a curious and pitying glance, followed quickly by, "Oh. What do you plan to do with that?"
And the honest-to-God truth is: I don't know. I have no idea.
For three years, off and on, I prayed about what I should do with my life. And this program at this school kept coming back to me. In 2014, I finally committed to it, and got started. I've enjoyed most of my classes so far, and my experience with the staff has been nothing short of delightful. And still, I'm tired.
I never planned to go to college growing up. It simply wasn't something I ever saw myself doing -- I hated school, and once I was out of high school, I relished in the freedom of work, having my own money, and free evenings.
And now, there's homework. Endless homework. Due to financial aid requirements based on my circumstances, I can't take a "break" without losing my aid. I finish one semester, and pick the next one up as soon as the following month begins. I don't get summer breaks. I don't get Christmas breaks. I don't get spring break. I don't have the option. I'll be following this pattern for the next four and a half years...at least.
So, when people ask, "Oh. What do you plan to do with that?" My response is dressed in a half-hearted smile, a shrug, and drenched in exhaustion: "Whatever God wants me to do, I guess."
It feels childish -- unbecoming of an adult, especially one so typically vested in planning and scheduling and organizing. It is unusual for me to hope, to dream, or to wonder (unless the wonder is the result of worry).
We hear sometimes that Peter's falling while attempting to walk on water to Jesus when He called was the direct result of his turning his gaze from the Christ and focusing instead on the waves. It seems like a clear-cut story: we look to Jesus, and we'll rise above; we look to the storm, and we'll sink.
But are those the only two possibilities? Faith and failure? Is it possible to look to Christ rather than focusing on the storm, and still feel the wind and the rain as they buffet against us, pressing us against our doubt and our clumsiness and the gravity which demands our submission?
Is it possible to keep your eyes on Christ and still feel so, so tired? Anxious? Drenched from the rain even if not swallowed up by the sea?
My answer is so typical of me: I don't know. Maybe I'm not supposed to know. Maybe it's not my job. Or maybe, Peter, being the coward he was that I so easily relate to, would not have even stepped out of the boat if he saw his denial of Christ, the responsibility he would have for the Church at its dawning, and his eventual execution under the sinister Emperor Nero.
Perhaps faith's only goal was not to keep Peter from looking around him; perhaps it was to keep him from looking too far ahead -- not only away from Christ, but beyond him, behind him. Even Christ, from a distance, appeared as a ghost, and the Apostles were afraid (Luke 24:37). Peter couldn't see into the distance -- not the distance of that stormy night, and not the distance of his life on earth.
What would Peter have said if asked what he planned to do when he made it to Jesus on the water? Maybe the same as me: "I don't know."
"What's out there?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know."
"What will you do if--"
"I don't know."
And yet, his Master beckoned. He calls to all of us the same. We don't always know what the future holds, or what we'll do if this, or if that. We can't always say what will happen if we step out and go to where Christ calls.
But, God-willing, we can echo Peter's sentiment toward his Master:
Where else would we go?