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CharlotteHallstrom

BITH494SeniorSeminar
VocationEssay

ToAct,LoveandWalk

Threeandahalfyearsago,sittinginalecturehallonmyfirstdayatWheatonCollege,Iwas
moreexcitedtoshowoffthetheologicalunderstandingthatIhadcollectedinhighschoolthanIwasto
learn.Myquietarrogancefueledafalseattitudeofcertainty,whichwasshakenthatearlymorninginmy
Gospel,ChurchandCultureclass.Myprofessor,Dr.Johnson,encouragedustoimagineafivepiece
puzzlelaidoutinfrontofus.Hismonologuewentsomethinglikethis:
Thisiseverythingyouknow.Upuntilthispoint,whatyouhavecometounderstandandknow
tobetrueisrepresentedinthesefivepieces.Imgoingtotakeawaythatcompletedpuzzlenow
andgiveyouaonehundredpiecepuzzle.Youwilleventuallyfigureitout,putallthepieces
together,butIcanpromiseyouthatbythetimeyouwalkofftheEdmanstageatCommencement,
youwillbehandedamillionpiecepuzzle,wonderingifyoulleverbeabletocompleteit.
Now,ItrulydidnotliketheideathatIwouldwalkoutofmycollegeexperiencewithmorequestions
thananswers.ButwhatIhavecometoknowinthispivotalcollegiateseasonisthis:Ihaveneverbeen,
norwillIbe,calledtoknowitall.
Today,IworshiptheLordbecauseofthis.CertainlythisdoesnotmeanthatIhavebeencalledto
setasidethepursuitoftruthinknowledge.Rather,Ihavebeengiventheprivilegetodosuch.Still,the
realityisthatIamleavingthiscampuswithmorequestionsthananswers.However,itisnotwitha
shakenconfidence,butwithanassurancethattheLordissovereignoverallandIcantrustinthat.While
Ipreviouslyassumedthatsuchanoutcomewouldleavememoreshaken,withaweakerfaithandmy
questionswouldnaturallytakemefarfromGod,Ihavefoundmuchfreedominthisandwouldbe
confidentinsayingthatIhavebecomeamorefaithfulChristFollowerbecauseofit.Myliberalarts
educationhascausedmetofail,towrestle,toplead,toseekandtogrowinGodsredemptivestrength.
Ayearandahalfago,IwasinIsraelonWheatonintheHolyLands,sittinginthedininghall
withafewotherstudentsandDr.Kalantzis.Wewereallhalfwaythroughourcollegecareer,feelingthe
ominousshadowofreallifelurkingaroundthecorner.Thismademanyofusanxiousaswesurveyed
thedecisionswewouldhavetomakebeforewewerefacedwithreality.Weaskedourprofessor,how
doweknowGodswillforeachofourindividuallives?Iwasmorethanexpectanttohearhimrespond
withtheclassicyouthgroupjargon;somethingalongthelinesof,YoumustlistenforthevoiceofGod,
LifeisinthehandsoftheLord,youmustfollowwhereheleads,etc.Instead,hetoldusthatwehad
alreadybeengiventhewillofGodanditisnotaspersonalizedaswemaythink.Inamannertogetour
attentionhesaid,WhatdoyoumeanHowdoyouknowGodswill?!DontyoureadyourBibles!
BeingaBible/Theologymajor,Iwasabitashamed,butthenhebegantoquotetheprophetMicah.
Actjustly,lovemercyandwalkhumblywithyourGod.Tothatheaddedthatsupremelyyou
aretoglorifytheLordwithallyouhaveandloveourneighbors.And,thatwasit.
SimpleandalmosttooeasyformyAmericanevangelicalmind.TheremustbemorethatImust
do?Somespecial,pointedprayedthatIdidnotknowyetorfastmoreorraisemyhandshigher,I
thought.Thismoment,apassingconversationinadininghallatJerusalemUniversityCollege,solidified
somethingthatIhadbeenlearningforalongtime.ThetruththatGoddoesnotneedtobeimpressedby
us,thatourlivesarenotsomehikingtrailonthePacificCrestwhereyoucantakeonewrongturnand
findyourdemiseinthedesert.No,thatisnotourGod.Thosefivethingsareatthecruxofhowweareto
liveasChristfollowers:lovetheLord,loveothers,actjustly,lovemercyandwalkhumbly.Whilethatis
stillalargeresponsibility,itallowsourpassions,talentsandgiftstoflourishwithoutfearoffailure.Itwas
conversationslikethesethatIfoundmuchcomfortinthemidstofallofmyquestions.

Myliberalartseducationprovidedamplespacetodothat.ItpushedmetostepoutsideofwhatI
expectedofmyself,bringingforthnewavenuesinwhichIcouldworshipGodmorefully.Classeslike
SystematicTheology,ChristologyandTrinityintheEarlyChurchandGospelofJohnaregreatexamples
ofthis.Invariouslectures,projectsandstudying,Iwasbeingexposedtovariousperspectivesthat
challengedwhatIhadenteredinwith.Itwasoftenafterclassessuchasthesewheremywrestlingwould
takeplace.QuestionsconcerningwhoGodis,whatmyrelationshiptoGodis,whattheChristianlifeis,
etc.wouldfloodmymindrelentlessly.Theyweregreatstartingblocksforpersonalexploration.Yet,Iam
inspiredbymyprofessorsaboveanyspecificclassmaterial.
Whilemyclasseshaveplayedpivotalroleinmytimehere,whathaspromptedmetousemy
wholelifetoservetheChurch,society,andtheworldinthenameofChrististhecountlessconversations
thatIhavehadwithfacultymembersoutsideoftheclassroom.Itrulythinktheyarethejewelsof
WheatonCollege.Theirwillingnesstositdownwithasophomorestudentandlistentotheirdreamsand
aspirationsandthengivecounselisanincrediblegift.Therelationshipsforgedinthosemomentsareones
thathavehadheardtheLordsvoicemostclearly.Theyhavegivenmethecouragetodothehardthings,
thefreedomtoquestionandgrapplewithlifeandtheunderstandthattheeasylifeisnotafulfillingone.
Theyhavetaughtmehowmuchwecanexpectfromrelationshipshereonearthandwhattheredeeming
poweroftheLordiscapableofdoing.
Seeingtheirpassionfortheirmediumsofworship(ex.studyingthebehaviorofpeoplegroups,
annotatinggreatliteraryworks,mappingthecomplexityofthehumanbody),inspiredmetocometo
knowabiggerGodthanIhadbefore.NolongercouldIassumethatGodprimarilylivedinone
disciplineoveranother.Hewasnomoreinthediscussionofgoodandevilthaninthequalmsofmicro
financing.Thishasmotivatedmetolookbeyondchurchministryinfindingacareerthatwouldhonorthe
Lordwithmytalents.Ironically,ithasengenderedinmeadesiretopursuebusiness,ofallthings.This
wasthelastthingIhadexpectedIwouldendupwantingtodo,asidefrombeingadoctorofcourse.Yet,
thepassionforthisventurehasbecomesogreatthatIcannotseemtoshakeitandIhavemyexperience
asaWheatonCollegestudentandthenewfoundfreedominthewingsoftheLordtothankforthat.
InfulfillingtheLord'swillhowever,IhaverealizedthatanythingIcreatemusthaveagreater
meaningbehindit.Therefore,thisbusinessideathatIhaveisnotjustaforprofitventure,butonethatI
hopewilltakecareofthepoorandneedy,whileteachingourneighborstoloveoneanotherbetter.With
degreesinbiblical,theologicalandcommunicationstudies,thiswilldefinitelybeastepoutofmy
comfortzone,butIambecomingmoreandmoreexcitedaboutthat.Ihavelearnedthatvocationisless
aboutsimplydoingwhatyouaregoodat,butdoingwhatmakesyoumorepassionateabouttheworkof
theLord.WillIfail?Mostlikely,especiallyifItrytotodoitbymyownfruition.OswaldChambers
writesthisinhiswork,MyUpmostforHisHighest.
WhenGodgivesavisionbyHisSpiritthroughHiswordofwhatHewants,andyourmindand
soulthrilltoit,ifyoudonotwalkinthelightofthatvision,youwillsinkintoservitudetoapoint
ofviewwhichOurLordneverhad.
Whilemyliberalartseducationhasbroughtmenewandexcitingideas,mybiblicalandtheological
classeshavecontinuallyrootedmeinthistruth.NothingthatIgoontopursuewithoutadependencyon
Godispursuedcompletelyinvain.Theyhavedonesobyenlighteningmetoagreaterunderstandingof
thenatureofGod.Icanremembersittinginmyearliertheologyclassesandbeingdumbfoundedbythe
narrowunderstandingIhadoftheGodIhadbeenworshippingforsevenyears.Itismomentslikethis
thatIwillalwaysbeenindebtedtoandsomeofthemanyscenesthatwillcolormymemoryoftheselast
fouryears.LikeImentionedearlier,however,thatcolorisnotalwaystherosiest.Ithasbeendifficult,
remainsdifficult,butItrustinthefactthateventheslatecoloredmoments,maybeevenmoresothanthe
rosiest,haveledmetowomanthatsitsherewritingthispaper.
OntheeighthofMay,asDr.Johnsonpredicted,IwillwalkofftheEdmanChapelstageforthe
lasttimewithadiplomainmyhand(well,atleastwhatresemblesadiplomaforthepicturesofcourse),a

smileonmyface,tearsinmyeyes,aheadfilledwithquestions,butwithaheartconfidentthattheLordis
goodallofthetime.MyhopeasaWheatonCollegegraduateisthatIwillfulfillmytruestvocation:tobe
someonethatlovesandglorifiestheLordmightily,fullycherishesandcaresforothers,actsjustly,
pursuesmercyandwalkswiththemosthumbleofsteps.Ihopethatindoingso,Icantojusticetowhat
StanleyHauerwascallsthebestdamnstoryevertold,savingitfrombecomingboringashellinmy
ownlife.ThesefouryearshaveshownmewhatthatcanlooklikeandmyprayeristhatIwillbejustthat.
MyprayeristhatGodwouldmakehisfacetoshineuponmine,sothathiswaymaybeknownonearth
throughme.Iamwalkingoutofhereacompletelydifferentpersonthanthedoeeyedandatad
overconfidentgirlwhowalkedintoBITH111thatearlyWednesdaymorning,unreadytostepintothe
newseason,butchoosingtotrustthattheLordhasgonebeforemeandthatisabeautifulthing.