Where Would I Go?
___ posted September 20, 2011 by Ryan Bradley
Some days, that affirmation sounds beautiful to me. But in the harder and darker moments of following God, it’s the first part that really stands out. Maybe it’s my dark sense of humor, but I find the cynicism deeply hopeful. “God, I’m ready to quit, but I just can’t find any less bad options, so I guess you’re stuck with me a little longer. In which case, I might as well keep trying to follow as best I can.”
I think, “I’m just not satisfied with my life. God, I’ve had enough.” Then, I look at the alternatives. I could chase money, sex, respect. Any of those might be fun for awhile, but not very long. I don’t mean that in the eternal perspective; I can’t imagine them really making me happy for a year. I could climb back in bed and go to sleep. That might make me happy for a whole hour or two. When I really think about it, I just don’t see any other options.
I’m trying to finish a PhD right now. I’ve loved a lot of what I have learned, but I hate the process. A month in (years ago), I was ready to quit, even though I was convinced God led me there. Having just moved across the country, I was ready to drop out, pack up my car, and drive those 3000 miles back. Then I thought, “Where would I go?” It wasn’t just the idea of moving in with my parents at age 30. It was also a question of calling. God made me for this, or more aptly, He is making me through this. “Where would I go?” To start some other new career that He hasn’t called me to and gifted me for? That doesn’t seem any better…
Now, nearing the final stages of the process, I still want to give up. I’m tired of being a student. I’m tired of always being poor. I’m tired of work that won’t have its payoff for years. I’m tired of trying to motivate myself every day, knowing that no one really cares if I do anything of value today. I’m tired of the whole process. I’m having trouble remembering that God is really with me and for me, and I’m about ready to quit. Ready to quit the PhD. Ready to quit my calling. And, if not ready to quit God, I’m sure feeling ready to quit caring about being faithful to Him.
And then that question again, “Where would I go?” What is the alternative?
I hope that, more and more, my actions are motivated by a growing love for God. But even on the days when I don’t feel love for or from God, following Him is still the best choice, the most self-interested one, or at least the least bad option. Maybe that doesn’t sound hopeful to you. I know it isn’t very cheerful. But there’s a steadiness to it. A deep security. I know that, however hard it feels to follow God, there’s nothing worth leaving Him for.
Lord, there is no one else. There’s no other source of life. There is no other way of living worth trying. So, I’m still here. Where else would I go?
There is this moment in the gospels when Jesus, after saying some difficult and confusing things to His audience (and it sure seems like He goes out of His way not to clear things up at this point), watches many of them leave. He turns to His disciples and basically says, “So, are you leaving too?” And Peter responds, “Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”