Musings & Younger Perspectives:
What are you doing here?
By Yvonne Agduyeng
I am a 22 year-old biological anthropology major preparing to graduate from Western Washington University in 46 days…but who’s counting? Ever since I declared my major, the question I got asked the most (which I’m sure all you graduates are being asked) is, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” Seriously, if I had a nickel… Anyways, I gave typical answers in the form of, “Get a job.” I was reading a letter I wrote to myself when I was eight years old, and my biggest dream was to become a cashier at Safeway because of my fascination of scanning an item. I quickly grew out of this while working at Abercrombie & Fitch where I realized I don’t have the patience to stand there and scan all day. But, I did realize that I enjoyed working with people, and if I can enjoy it at Abercrombie & Fitch, I can definitely enjoy it anywhere…but I digress.
I grew up going to a youth camp called Christmas Institute, where I listened (yup, listened) to my call for the first time. For some reason, I equated hearing my call with having everything figured out, which (surprise!) wasn’t the case.
“What are you going to do after you graduate?” The truth was, I had no clue. Working in the church wasn’t something I gave thought to; much less see myself smack dab in the middle of it. As I discerned my call further, I learned a very important lesson: always remember to be open to things that aren’t in my direct line of vision (cue light bulb). I can plan and plan all I want but situations change, people change, and interests change. What I can do is trust that God is walking right alongside me with every step, or misstep in some cases.
After much prayer, thought, emotional outbursts, and more prayer, I will be attending seminary in the fall. When I was first asked to write this article about six months ago, I remember thinking, “What if I don’t get into seminary?” Fast-forward to these past few months, which have been a whirlwind of excitement, hope, stress, joy and other applicable emotions, I am thrilled to share that I have been accepted to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C! And now, I can officially breathe.
While I was visiting Wesley, I had the opportunity to attend worship. The scripture that night was 1 Kings 19:4-13 (NLT):
4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
As I flew on the red-eye back to Seattle, I sat buckled in my seat in deep in thought about Elijah’s story. Discerning my call hasn’t been easy, and moments of self-doubt silently creep in once in a while. But after reflecting on this passage, questions like “What are you going to do after you graduate?” didn’t seem like the question I should be focused on. It should be “What are you doing here?” I’m attending seminary because I feel that Wesley is a community where I am able to pursue knowledge along with holiness. Or as Charles Wesley, more eloquent than I, stated, “Unite the pair so long disjoined, knowledge and vital piety.” As I prepare to move across the country and become a real adult, “What are you doing here?” is a question I have faithfully reflected on, and will keep reflecting on, wherever I may be in my faith journey.
Yvonne Agduyeng is a member of Garden Street UMC.
Living the Good Life Together: Discernment, Acting Wisely (D4642)
Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church (D1300)
Download Channels 63, May 2013