I must concede that I arrived in Nashville with apathy regarding how this year would affect my career path and, by association, my life. I entered the Nashville Fellows program having been accepted into medical school, seemingly coasting on confidence in the notion that the medical field would be my niche for the rest of my life. My preconception about the nine months that lay before me included expectations of learning about how I could better implement the Gospel of Christ into medicine and, more generally, grow deeper in understanding and affection for the God that I call Savior and Father. So far, I am seeing both of those things come to fruition, but I am also being taught another important lesson: sometimes my expectations do not perfectly align with the sovereign plan of God. In such a short time I have learned how this applies to relationships with others, visions for the future, and even my assumptions about who God is and what it means to be a member of the Church. Through this blog, I hope to use my limited abilities to magnify the goodness of our wholly sufficient Father by highlighting how He has and is continuing to sanctify me in the manners to which I have alluded.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.” God took no time in showing me that I had idolized my own idealized sense of what community should look like for me. I supposed that there would be little discrepancy between the friends I made in college and the friends I would make in Nashville. I was wrong. The people in the Fellows program are markedly different from my college friends. Furthermore, not only are many of these amazing people unlike me, but we share significantly dissimilar backgrounds. Despite these ostensible hindrances, we have an overarching, primary commonality in Christ Jesus our Lord. After being reluctantly and rapidly shown this preeminent fact by God, I have had the blessing of beginning to enter friendship with the other Fellows, despite our superficial differences. How beautiful it is when the Church, the body of Christ, strives to function and serve in harmony due to our shared devotion to Jesus Christ, regardless of any other preexisting conditions. God has been gracious to give me a taste of such desirable community as He has designed it. I pray to experience this more fully as the year progresses.
The second, and perhaps most drastic, way that God challenged my expectations was through examination of my personal vision for my life and career. Roughly a week into this Fellows program I experienced an existential crisis concerning my career path. I began to question my fervor for commitment to medical practice. I started to contemplate whether I would be more inclined to pursue a career in business or law. After prayer and further analysis of my own heart I was forced by God, through His Spirit, to address my idols of perceived success and wealth. I now feel that I can stand in confidence as I begin to pursue medicine, with a trust in God and understanding that if He opens doors in the realm of business or any other avenue, I intend to walk through them wholeheartedly, leaning on a faith that my Father provides and sustains.
Lastly, God has shown me more fully who He is, and what it means to serve as a small member of the much larger body of Christ, encompassing Christians around the world, despite denominational affiliation. It is by perceiving my sin not only through the lens of filth, although it is filthy, but further seeing it from a vantage point that reveals how inconceivably dissimilar I am to God that I have become exceedingly more penitent and reverent towards the God of the universe. The God who sent his Son, fully God and fully man, to die in my place, so that I may be deemed holy and without blemish, acceptable before the eyes of an infinitely righteous God. How beautiful is the name of Jesus? What a blessing to serve this Savior alongside brothers and sisters around the world. I pray that we fight for unity in the body of Christ despite the denomination (or non-denomination), so that the world may see more fully the beauty of Jesus Christ embodied by His Church.
In closing, I pray and hope you will pray with me, that God, in His infinite grace and mercy, would continue to rescue us from our own precarious expectations. May we abide in Him always, trusting that the plans He has for us are for His glory and our good.
Perhaps I should have inserted earlier the verses by which this blog was inspired, but alas, here we are. I hope still that this Word of God would permeate your heart and affect your soul as it has mine:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”