I participated in an interesting conversation with a prospective student a couple of weeks ago and, to my surprise, I gave some advice about the application and discernment process that I would not have given him two years ago when I first began this journey through Candler. He wrestled with oft-noted questions concerning such topics as whether this was the right “time” for going to seminary, what he would do with his degree upon completion of the Masters of Divinity Program, and what it means for God to place a specific call on his life different from people closely connected to him. My advice to him was to embrace his uncertainty as a gift. A divine one at that. I challenged him to not view his uncertainty as a hindrance, but rather grounds for liberation.
Uncertainty during a process such as applying to divinity school is truly a gift from God and it took me two and half years at Candler to reach this epiphany. Now, I know at this point, it is hard for some people to comprehend how uncertainty could be accepted as a gift. Well, I thought back to when I was applying for Candler. I questioned every aspect of the process. I knew that from the point that I enrolled into the MDiv program at Candler my life would be forever changed. But it was this feeling of uncertainty that provided access to a type of faith that I never knew existed within me.
First, uncertainty allowed me to be receptive to options for my life that I may have never considered, but ones that God had arranged for me. Sometimes we can be so rigid in how we believe that we can serve in ministry that we impede our own ability to hear God speak to us in novel ways about our calling. Secondly, my faith was totally dependent upon God’s direction during this process. Uncertainty served as a gift by pulling me closer to God in previously unimaginable ways. The process was both scary and exhilarating at the same time. And surrounding it all was God’s grace working within me to provide peace and around me to open doors.
Furthermore, in thinking about uncertainty as a gift, my mind immediately turns towards one of my favorite Biblical prophets, Jeremiah. His uncertainty in his call as a prophet could have stifled what God had in store for him. But in turn, his uncertainty actually performed an alternate function in his life. It pushed him to ask God specific questions about the worthiness of his call: questions that he might not have considered had he not experienced doubt. What I feel has been the best aspect of this spiritual conundrum is that when we are uncertain, quite often we find ourselves asking important questions about our future, decisions, and calling that we might occasionally overlook if we are sure about what we are supposed to do and where we are supposed to go. In many cases, it is through our questions that we unlock answers to this divine mystery that we call life.
So if you happen to be in a discernment process during this season, or hopefully applying to one of the programs at Candler, accept and embrace uncertainty as a gift. It can work in your favor in amazing ways. Uncertainty doesn’t have to be something taboo or a sign that you don’t have every aspect of your life sorted out. Conversely, uncertainty coupled with the grace of God’s guidance, should be understood as avenues for God to lead you towards your destiny.
Quentin is a third year MDiv student from Washington, DC and a Student Ambassador. He is also President of Candler’s Black Student Caucus and an active member of the Candler Baptist Community.