I remember vividly when I first laid eyes on the town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It was Saturday, August 20th, 2016, and I had put nearly 1800 miles on my Jeep to move in and begin my new life with the Colorado ESC. I was more exhausted than a hound dog that had spent an entire afternoon chasing after a rabbit. Even though I was sick to death of seeing yellow lane lines and bland white speed limit signs, I kept my eyes peeled as I reached the top of the hill on Colorado-40 that unbeknownst to me at the time, would be where I would first see this new “home” of mine. And the view certainly didn’t disappoint. It looked like one of those wide panoramic shots from the Lord of the Rings films, showing a gorgeous landscape dominated by rolling green mountains, with a bustling yet almost storybook-esque town down below in the valley. My heart warmed up a bit more as I gazed out at this beautiful piece of creation, and said quietly to myself a couple of times, “Home. Home.”
“Home” is a word that has a lot of catch-22’s for me personally. The reason why is that throughout my near 23 years of existence, I have lived in a total of twelve different towns and cities, and five different states total, including Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The longest amount of time I ever spent in one general place was the four years I spent at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, from which I graduated this past May. It was at Berry that for the first time, I began to understand that home isn’t necessarily just a place where I have have a roof over your head. Home, for me, is where I know in my heart and mind that I am supposed to be in order to pursue God’s call on my life.
As I begin the first stages of “adulting” in my life here in Steamboat Springs, it becomes very easy for me to become swept up in all the anxieties and uncertainties that come with the post-undergraduate life. The ever-present bane of many young people today, student debt, hangs over my head, and a “game of loans” is coming this winter. Having to pay rent, utilities, and a whole host of other responsibilities will become part of my life after ESC. Probably the biggest uncertainty of all is that I don’t know exactly where I will end up a year from now, even though I am planning to remain in Colorado. And yet, despite my normal tendencies of constantly planning ahead, thinking about what tomorrow or even five years from now will bring, and my own attempts to control the outcome, I know that no matter what happens…I am at home. I am where I am supposed to be at this time.
Human beings have always leaned towards the tendency of wanting to try and completely control their environment and things around them, particularly if such control makes things easier. Just take a look at any of the smart phones we use to send messages to someone on the opposite side of the world in mere seconds, or the Google search engine that we use which can provide millions of tidbits of information. When these means of control fail or don’t provide the answer we desire, a subsequently large amount of frustration tends to be the general reaction from most if not all of us, as we literally or metaphorically throw our hands up in despair. I must admit that at times in my own anxiety and frustration regarding the uncertain aspects of my life, I have thrown up my hands in despair towards God as I would towards my laptop or my iPhone. I know what I feel called and led to do with my life given my own passions, abilities, and experiences that forged me into who I am…and yet, God has never provided for me the intricate blueprint of how my vocation is going to manifest itself.
The prophet Isaiah put this reality into words when he described this facet of God’s relationship to humanity: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This passage, although forward and direct, is not one in which God simply says, “Know your place and shut your face”. It is anything but that, I’d propose. It is God providing both consolation and assurance in the midst of all the uncertainties of life. God, in his mercy, love, and compassion for each of us, doesn’t provide the full picture of our life’s journey. Instead, he provides an essential promise, which throughout the Holy Scriptures, the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the witness of the apostles, martyrs, and saints, has continually been fulfilled: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isiah 55:10-11).
How do I know these words to be true in my own life? How can I even dare to suggest that despite all my failures and shortcomings, my sins and imperfections, and the anxieties and shortcomings which plague me, that I am even worthy of such a word from God’s mouth that will never return empty? I can firmly say that this is true because of where I am, where God has led me to, in this new place that I call “home”. I am getting to live in community with other young people, who like me, have just enough foolishness to believe that we can change the world. I am surrounded by mentors who despite my rough edges, believe in me and want to help me on the journey. I am getting to work with an organization that combines my love of the outdoors with my passion for mentoring, teaching, and empowering others. And, to top it all off, I am getting to do all of this in the best cowboy ski town in the USA, which happens to be in one of the most gorgeous places on earth: Colorado.
Despite all of the burdens and junk I bear from my mistakes and beating myself up over them, God kept the promise he made through the mouth of Isaiah to me. I have a home. If a loving and merciful God can do that for me, the “chief of sinners” as Saint Paul would put it, then the same God is at work in your life as well, whether you realize it or not. You have a home—where are you are now in your life, is exactly where you are supposed to be on life’s journey towards God’s special purpose for you. So take heart, and be reminded of another promise: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Or, as the character of Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior from the upcoming Star Wars film “Rogue One” sates defiantly to a squad of Stormtroopers who threaten to take his life in the film’s trailer: “I fear nothing. All is, as the Force wills it.”