A few weeks ago I made what might be called a careless and foolish decision: in a time of economic uncertainty and at a stage of life that has me screaming for stability (read: mid-20s), I quit my job.
It made for some uncomfortable discussions when family or friends would ask me about my plans for the beginning of 2013.
"Um, to be determined?" I would say sheepishly.
But if it was poor planning on my part, it has been perfect timing on God's. In propelling me toward an exit, God is challenging me to put my hope back in his promises—promises that begin with the birth of the Savior.
Navigating the early stages of adulthood has me perpetually "in waiting," praying for a sustainable job, meaningful relationships, and a sense of place and purpose. I'm both an impatient and fretful person. Waiting is difficult for me, and thus, at times, so is hope. I struggle to distinguish that still, small voice of God amidst all the instructions one hears when it comes to the future. In the swirl of imperatives the world offers about living a fulfilled life, I lose track of the real source of it. I start believing that misery, hopelessness, and dissipation are part of the life God intends for me.
Henry David Thoreau wrote about this conundrum in Walden: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. . . . They honestly think that there is no choice left."
When my job started to encroach on me like a prison, I resigned my whole being to the suffocation. I believed my situation was too small or common to matter, that bringing it before God would make me petty and ungrateful, that I couldn't ask for deliverance.
We are a people easily enslaved, aren't we? By fear, anger, selfishness, sorrow, weakness, indifference, and despair. But the feeling of entrapment Thoreau describes is far from the truth of our status as God's children. Jeremiah writes in chapter 29:11 and 14: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope . . . I will be found by you . . . I will end your captivity."
The coming of Christ promises us freedom from the world's modus operandi—we are rescued from death and offered new life. And not just another life, but a transformed life. What's more—that different, better life need not wait until heaven. Satan and the broken world around us would have us think so, but Jesus insists: "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life" (John 10:10).
I think it's perfect that Christmas is closely followed by New Year's. With the birth of Christ, all things were—and are—made new. As applications for jobs, internships, and grad schools pile up, my future feels as hidden as ever. I don't know what's next. But a renewed sense of freedom has been shooing my fear out of the dark corners. As I stand on the brink of huge change, I feel God reminding me that the transformative power of his incarnation isn't restricted to a single day of the year, phase of life, or region of my heart.
As we usher in 2013, what are you waiting on God for? Perhaps, like me, you have been pressing on with a weary soul. Maybe you too are seeking freedom from the trap of resignation. What would it mean for you to live in the hope of life that is Christ and his coming? Could you dare to believe in his promise of abundant life, on earth as it is in heaven?
Ashley Gray is a writer and regular contributor to the TCW blog.