Now That I Am a Master of the Divine


A few weeks ago I walked across a stage in a fancy borrowed robe and accepted my Masters in Divinity from Candler Theological Seminary. A Masters in Divinity, I have mastered divinity, a master of the Divine. That is what my degree says; that is certainly not how it feels.

It feels … complicated.

It feels … confusing.

It feels … less sure than I want it to.

I came into my Masters program with everything up in the air, and I am leaving with just a little bit settled. I do like pastoring, we will be staying in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. I am pursuing ordination. I do not know much else.

Somewhere along the line I got it into my head that to pastor a church, to lead anything really meant to KNOW THE THINGS for sure and walk boldly in the direction of that knowing. Now I know (at least I think) that the not knowing is a gift. The mystery of life and the paths we walk are a feature, not a flaw.

This past week I preached about what Jesus said, in the book of John, right before he leaves this earth a second time. He tells his disciples (and also us) that we don’t know exactly how it is going to go, because we aren’t supposed to know. Turns out, if God wanted us to have an exact manual for life, God would have handed us one at birth, maybe tattooed it onto our tiny bums.

First, Second, Third … but none of us have those scripts. Instead we have to figure it out ourselves. I thought that the Masters in Divinity would help me with my marching orders. Instead it has taught me to listen closely, walk softly, and own up to the fact that I really only know my one next step. I know where the Spirit is leading. I do not know where the Spirit will ultimately lead.

There are days when this seems unfair, but again I am learning this is by design. Not knowing means I listen more, to God and to others. I even listen better to myself. Not being totally sure means I pursue a relationship with the One who does know. Not knowing means I can give myself more grace when I make a mistake; when I have a misstep.

When you don’t know the ultimate destination, you become far more attentive to the journey. I don’t want to live my life the way I drive to work every day, pretty much on autopilot. I don’t want to be only concerned about pulling into the driveway of the destination I know I’m supposed to be at. I’m learning that being sure—that knowing—is maybe less important than I thought. I am learning that we only think we know. Being sure is often an illusion.

We can be sure of the relationships; of the love. We can be sure that God has what is best for us. We can be sure that God is wild about us. But we don’t always know what that will mean, practically speaking. And that is okay—it might even be a gift. That much I know for sure.

And you can totally take my word for it. I am a master of the Divine.