I’m honored to have Preston Yancey today for today’s guest post in the My Hazardous Faith synchroblog. Preston has just moved overseas. When I heard about his story, I knew it was an important one to share about living by faith. I’ll add details below on how you can share your own hazardous faith story this week.
My right heel blisters against the new boot. Walking upon the cold, wet sand of the English shoreline, I consider taking the boots off, letting feet sink deep into the grains, but there’s still two or three miles of this walk to be had and soon we’ll cut across the stone way, up into the bramble patches and the highland.
I’m turning over the question, rattled loose the night before when he asked me kindly, offhand, where I planned to go after my year of masters work at St. Andrews. I had provided the expected answer, the answer that had made the most sense since the start of summer, since sitting on the back of the golf cart with the woman I admired so deeply, dreaming of a second masters degree and my first academic book. But I had conceded to him that there was more to the story, the conversation that intersected my certainty only the week before I packed up my life, got on the plane, and moved to the United Kingdom. I conceded that I was no longer so sure, that there was a second option, a possibility, something that on its surface looked significantly less glamorous, perhaps less significant, perhaps less important.
Yet it stuck like a burr in my heart. It clung. It had pinched deep.
Maybe the safe thing is the brave thing.
I turn it over, walking on the beach beside him. He asks, again, about my fork in the road. How does he know I’ve been working this over our whole walk? Holy Ghost, of course, but even now, even now when I have come to expect His coming in the thunderclap, in the whisper wind, He still catches me off guard.
“I don’t know.”
I list pros and cons. I make the arrangements of explanation. I formulate. I apply logic.
I return to uncertainty.
I reach back, far back, to the days of tossing coins trying to figure out the will of God. I tell myself that if the time is even, then the answer is X, check my clock, find it even, but decide I don’t like the answer. I also don’t like the alternative. I like, too much, both choices.
The first is about advancement. It means being perceived in a certain sort of way. It means that academic books would be easier to publish. It means working alongside people I love, I admire, I miss. It is the brave choice, on its surface, the daring choice to step out and work hard.
The second is about curating. It means being in the company of a people that desire desperately to cultivate an environment of sacred learning. It means that if there is a third book, God willing, following the two I have contracted already, it too shall be a popular work, like the first two. It means working alongside people I love, I admire, I miss. It is the safe choice, at its root, the safe choice to step back and return home.
Maybe the safe thing is the brave thing.
I turn it over again, boots kicking up the sand, wind rolling off like frost-tinged wings of Holy Ghost off the sea. I think about this strange place of life, this strange place we consider ours. I have been gifted with my share of talent. I have the certificates, the awards, the contracts. I have the arrangements of proof that I have a certain sort of way with a certain sort of word.
We cross up the stones, boots slide, blister splits. Pain. The work is pain. The walk, the journey, the metaphor we use too often that by now it too must have split, is pain. Is sacrifice. Is giving up.
I wonder if the cost, if the thorn in the side, if what is being asked, is to be able to recognize that what could be done is not what should. I wonder if the cost is the willingness to trust that even if I have been given the ability to live loud, I have been called to live quiet. I wonder if the cost is the surrender to the ordinary: baking bread, making tables, pouring coffee. I wonder if that is and can and must be enough.
I turn it over. We cross the moor. It rains. I still don’t know. I am soaked through, I am soaked through with grace, and I still don’t know.
Perhaps the first step, perhaps the groping, first movement toward God, is the willingness to mean Thy will be done, or Be it unto me according to thy word, or Here I am, Lord. I wonder. As the pain of the split blister, the old rub, the old pain on the old metaphor, pierces like thorn, I wonder. And I believe, in no small way, that this is the beginning of trust. That for now, it’s all the answer I need.
About Today’s Guest Blogger
Preston Yancey is earning his Master of Letters in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts from the St. Mary’s School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He runs on a diet of caffeine and God’s grace. His first book about a reverential approach to Scripture, Tables in the Wilderness, is due out with Rhizome in Summer 2013. His second, A Common Faith: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again is being written now.
How to Join the Synchroblog
During the week of August 27-September 2…
- Write a blog post sharing a personal story about a challenge you faced as a follower of Jesus. (You could also add: “I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus.”).
- At the bottom of your post, link to the synchroblog landing page: http://wp.me/PewoB-SN so that others can share their own Hazardous Faith Stories (Hey, you can just copy and paste these bullet points!)
- Add your post to the link up section at the bottom of theMy Hazardous Faith Story landing page on Monday-Saturday. Don’t forget to read and comment on at least one other post!
- Tweet your post with the #HazardousFaith tag.
- Include this image with your post: 400 pixels or 250 pixels width.