News - Calling: The Journey That Begins With Discovering God's Pleasure

Calling: The Journey That Begins With Discovering God's Pleasure

By Aaron Cobb '01

Aaron CobbI came to Greenville convinced that God had called me to pursue a career as a Christian musician. But when I discovered that this was not the right fit, I questioned my ability to grasp why God had brought me to this place.

Beyond "Place"

What I didn't realize was that God had not called me to a particular place or a pursuit; God had called me to a community. And it was this community that sustained me in the midst of unexpected grief.

In the summer after my freshman year, my father died unexpectedly; this was my first experience of significant loss. And God had brought me to a community to receive the gifts of consolation, friendship, and hope.

Beyond Career

As I progressed in my studies at Greenville, I became convinced that I should study psychology and pursue a career as a counselor. But in the middle of my junior year, I realized that I could no longer see my life along that trajectory. What I didn't realize was that God was not calling to determine the course of my career; God was calling me to a path where, as Frederick Buechner writes, my "deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Feeling God's Pleasure

That night, I expressed my concerns to my philosophy professor. He said to me, "Aaron, you need to find the course of studies in which you feel God's pleasure." It turned out that this place was with others thinking through and discussing philosophical and theological questions. At the time I made the decision to pursue philosophy, however, I had no idea what it would mean to follow; I only knew that I had to respond in faith.

What I Know Now

I don't know if my experience is common, but I think it is revelatory. I no longer trust my immediate appraisals of the pursuits, plans, or paths I see stretching out before me; I no longer trust myself to comprehend fully the tasks to which God is calling me. But I am confident that no matter where I go, God is calling me to community and to a path of service.

This path may exact a great deal, but I trust that there is an abiding gladness in faithfulness to God. And I find myself praying with Thomas Merton the following prayer:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."

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This story was published on September 12, 2016

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