While I was in Oxford, I came across a book called The Inklings. This book detailed the stories of Charles William, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and how they merged together in a writing club. As a huge fan of both Tolkien and Lewis, I knew I desperately wanted the book.
After four months of holding off, I finally picked up the biography and started reading through it. The moments I’ve spent in the company of this book have been eye-opening and catalytic to my faith walk. As many people already know, I just recently finished my final Master’s assignment. My time as a student has come to an abrupt end, and I honestly had no idea to do with myself.
I am the kind of person who likes to be busy, who likes to have a goal or objective I am working toward. That’s just the way God designed me. Sitting idly is not something I’m good at or desire to do. So, when I am met with silence for weeks, I am forced to come to terms with things about myself I could have easily swept under the rug had I been busy.
My faith wasn’t as strong as I had reckoned it to be. I had talked my spirit up to being unbreakable, my faith unshakable. But upon being confronted with the truth, I developed an intimate relationship with frustration and disappointment while my companionship with hope was severely disrupted.
Among many of the wise things both authors have said, something Tolkien quoted resonated with me: “They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited ‘first chapters’. I have indeed written many.”
You see, I’ve been praying for a career ever since I returned home from England. I have applied to jobs where I thought I would certainly thrive, but I have been consistently met with rejection. After several “no’s” were filtered into my inbox, my spirit began to allow sentiments of dejection and purposeless to place their stakes. I had finished my Master’s at a young age and I still couldn’t find a career. What was going on?
While I knew God was calling me to pursue a particular direction, my flesh still longed for purpose again right now. (Yes, I understood that God was and is my purpose, but I also love working, to feel like I have something I’m contributing to and being a part of.) The process I am in for the career field I’m seeking to be a part of could take up to a year and the competition for entrance is great.
Before long, the silence of my season and the fear of future rejection sunk me into a hole so deep I was certain I would never be able to get out. I felt worthless, like God had forgotten me. All the while, He continued to whisper to my soul words of encouragement, reminders that He had me and had a plan far greater than I could imagine.
What He’s taught me in this place of uncertainty is that faith is about so much more than simply taking the first step. Like Tolkien discussed with regard to his writing, he could write plenty of first chapters. Those are the easiest part of a novel. It’s the follow-through, the commitment, the perseverance that truly counts.
And that’s what God is evoking in me right now. A spirit of discipline, of proceeding, of completion even when there are yet fruits to be seen.
Even as I write this, I am in that same desert season. Some days I just want to scream, others I want to cry, and more often than not, I long to compromise. The journey is difficult, the process is painful. But I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am on this adventure with Christ by my side, the Holy Spirit within me, and God before me. I am not alone. He has not forgotten me. This season is just that–a season. I am determined to learn from this and to develop into the leader He’s called me to be before I was even in my mother’s womb.
Brothers and sisters, life isn’t perfect. Things don’t always turn out the way you’d expected. But we’ve got to keep walking. We can’t stop in the middle of the desert. We can’t return to the slavery of Egypt. We’ve got to move forward toward the Promise Land. Complaining and worrying will only lengthen our time in the season. Set your sights on God and stand firm in His promises. The enemy will come at you with lies and with your past failures, but I speak life into your calling today. Rekindle that which the Lord has placed in you. Do not waste another moment in doubt and fear but rather allow God to build the faith He’s placed inside you.
He Who has started a good work in you is faithful to complete it! (Philippians 1:6)