As young people, we’re in on the little secret that most of the people our age are not, in fact, completely sure of what they want to do with their lives. Jimmy from English class probably gave up on his MLB dream a long time ago. Do you know the lesser-known secret about this fact of uncertainty? The truth is, all of this uncertainty is not just normal, but God would have it no other way.
We all dream of that singular point in the future when we definitively realize exactly how we will spend the rest of our lives. From this point, we believe everything will go according to our plans and provisions. You might’ve already caught the keyword in that sentence that effectively renders the whole thing inaccurate: our. If you look at the Bible, you might find that God doesn’t really care about our plans. It would be a different world if He did.
One of the wonderful things about being of the Christian faith is that, by virtue of that membership, we are called to have total faith in God. I know what a lot of us are thinking, though: Isn’t that the worst part? Our inability to take control of our own lives makes us feel powerless and insignificant, and I understand that feeling one hundred percent. I was in that boat for a long time, up until shortly before writing this. With this article, I hope to show how totally resigning yourself, your future, and your well-being to God is one of the greatest parts of our religion.
One fateful night, I was praying, stressing about the fact that I had no idea what I was doing with my life in that moment, much less for the rest of my life. I felt extremely insecure about my future and my plans because it seemed like everyone else was ready to go. My peers seemed more than prepared to leave high school, go to college or the workforce, and do what they would do for the rest of their lives. I felt like I had missed the memo in which everyone was told how they would spend their lives after high school, and I had been completely left in the dust. And that night, I had totally broken down. So I brought it to God.
And, without further adieu, I’ll divulge what happened that night. I began to think about hubris all of a sudden. Hubris, if you did not know, is the word for the pride of mortals in mythology. Heroes had hubris if they tried to carry out quests without the help of the gods, or if they tried to cross the gods in some way. Obviously, I had not recently been contemplating crossing God because, well, God is God! It’s not a logical thing to consider slighting this omnipotent, merciful, all-powerful God. Unless… That’s exactly what had been happening! I realized that, in an effort to try to discover what it was that I wanted to do with my life, whether it was enlisting in the military, becoming a teacher or lawyer, or pursuing a psychology degree in college, I was definitely omitting God from the equation. I was not planning the life of a faithful servant of God, but I was planning the life of a little human man who thought he could get some sense about the future in such a way.
Spoiler alert: This little human man could not get some sense about the future in any way without some sort of guidance from God. While I prayed that night, I realized I needed to totally resign myself to God in order to be the most receptive to His calling. I needed to have complete, unshaking faith in Him and His plan in order to receive His guidance.
And the stress fell away for me. It was a refreshing feeling, handing all of that baggage to God (please forgive my use of the most cliche phrase in the Christian community). The truth is, I had been entrusting only myself to shouldering all of the stress that came with trying to independently plan my entire future without any sort of insight into what the future actually might look like.
I had a small epiphany — this must be why so many people’s plans fail. People don’t make the pros for their sport, or they change their college major multiple times, and, before they know it, they spiral out of control and find it difficult to reconcile with God. Instead, we should totally resign our futures to God, who has more qualifications than we do to handle such things.
The words “total resignation” echoed in my head, and I turned it over in my head multiple times. I couldn’t sleep, which was a bit vexing because I had a chemistry test the following morning. I thought of some Biblical examples of people becoming enlightened in this way, which may show you exactly what I mean by “total resignation”:
Brothers Simon and Andrew were struggling to catch fish in the sea until they encountered Jesus, who told them to once more lower their nets. When they lifted their nets back up, they were filled with an overabundance of fish, so much so that the new disciples’ boat was filled and they needed another boat to carry all the fish. After this experience, Simon and Andrew would follow Jesus and dedicate themselves to preaching the Good News of the Savior’s arrival for the rest of their lives. Simon would be renamed Peter, the Rock of Christ’s new Church. He was the first Pope, and would eventually become a martyr, crucified upside-down for his teaching. Andrew went on to preach the Good News around the Middle East following Jesus’s death, Resurrection, and Ascension. He too would be crucified, but bound to an X-shaped cross rather than nailed to a t-shaped one.
Another example: a soldier named Saul spent much of his life persecuting Christians. He was one of the most renowned and feared persecutors of Christians. One night, he was riding his horse through the desert, on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians there. Then, out of nowhere, a bright light flashed and he was knocked off his horse. The voice of Jesus asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Jesus told him to go into Damascus, where a disciple named Ananias would approach him and restore his sight. After he followed these instructions, Saul began to preach about God to the farthest stretches he could, so as to prevent anyone else from turning out as he did. Saul’s name was eventually changed to Paul, and he wrote what we know as the Letters of Paul to a multitude of different groups of people such as the Colossians and Corinthians, which make up thirteen books in the New Testament. Paul met his end in Rome, where he was beheaded and became a martyr.
When King Herod heard a prophecy saying that a new King would be born and would be crowned the King of the Jews, he was afraid that this new King would take his worldly throne. Herod instructed three men who would later be known as the Three Wise Men to locate this child so that Herod could have him killed. Those men did locate the child in an encounter that would be called the Epiphany. They realized the significance of this child that they had found and about whom there had been prophecies. So, after bestowing the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh upon the child, they did not report back to Herod. Upon reading this story, it seems as though the lives of these men had been completely meant for the very moment when they encountered Jesus in the manger. Their entire spiritual calling amounted to this moment, and they seized it and accomplished their assignment.
Total resignation, when taken as a specific event, seems very far-fetched. How could every person be meant for something so important as to have their own individual epiphany regarding how to live their lives in the future, or how to deal with one very important situation? In these three examples, the subjects realized that they should follow God in their own extreme ways during one, particular moment. God just kind of kicks down the door and asserts Himself and His plan.
“Hey Andrew and Simon, just know there’s a lot more where those fish came from. Just leave the professional fishing business that your parents passed down to you and follow your Savior. You don’t need to know what happens after that.”
“Three Magi, I’m gonna need you to risk your lives by standing up Herod. You understand, right? Cool. You won’t regret this!”
“Hey Saul, either stop persecuting Christians and start writing letters to pagans and those who forgot their God, or just stay blind forever. Your choice!”
In these instances, these people totally resigned themselves to God on very short notice. And they had extreme consequences. Simon Peter, Andrew, and Paul would all go on to be martyred. The Wise Men could have faced death for defying Herod. For many of us today, it is difficult to fathom being called to a life that will result in martyrdom. Part of that is because our world is considerably more accepting of Christianity than it was when Christ was first introduced to human civilization. However, some of us will still be called to this life (and death) which will result in sainthood, and this is the most honorable way to totally resign oneself. But, of course, neither Andrew, nor Simon Peter, nor Paul knew that they would die for their beliefs. Had they known, it might have been a different story. These stories show us that God has intricate plans set for us all because He alone knew the fates awaiting these three people and all martyrs.
Further, He alone knows anything and everything about our futures, and this is exactly the reason why, as I claimed at the very beginning, our ability to totally resign ourselves to God is one of the most joyful aspects of being a Christian. God has a plan for us. We need to essentially sit back, relax, and take heart, for God will come for us, and we will be called. For many of us, it will be easier to receive instruction by opening ourselves to God fully. For some, God might barge in and lead us on the adventure of a lifetime. Whatever our calling, it will never be completely up to us to decide. The best way to tackle the future is not to tackle it at all. It is not to stress about it.
It is to allow ourselves to be God’s instruments despite our imperfections, despite temptations, and despite the fear of death itself.