Paths, On-Ramps & Purpose

I was supposed to have been a British history professor.  

That was my path before I went to seminary, and I thought I had it all figured out.  

I was working on my Master's Degree in Early Modern British History with minor fields in Medieval History and Renaissance Literature.  That might seem boring to some folks, but I loved it. 

I am a nerd. 

My major professor was a world-renowned British history scholar who told me that in his forty years of teaching, he'd never had a student he felt could pick up the mantle of his work and carry it after he was gone until I and a fellow student in the program came along. 

I got a scholarship to study for a semester at Oxford University in England and to begin the research my professor wanted me to begin so I could start laying out my dissertation focus. 

I had been accepted into the University of Chicago, George Washington University, and the University of Maryland, all of which had excellent British history programs. 

I felt like the die was cast. 

While researching in the Oxford Bodleian Library, I realized that my professor wanted me to do something other than what I felt like doing for the next 5-6 years. 

That was a rough realization. 

Fortunately, not long after that existential crisis, I was approached about possibly attending seminary.  It took another year, a lot of angst, prayer, and about a dozen miraculous signs, but I finally set out on the new path toward becoming a minister. 

There have been times in my life when I have regretted not starting a life in ministry sooner.  But I've learned that nothing is ever wasted.  

The other day, I read a quote from author and speaker Bob Goff about this very thing: 

The best way to find the life you were meant to live is to get started, even if you have to pivot later.  Great ideas that don't work out are usually on-ramps to better ideas that do. 

If you are facing a decision right now and want to know if you should change paths, it will involve some angst, prayer, and probably a dozen miraculous signs. 

It won't be easy, but it's worth it.  And you can't live looking in the rearview mirror.  But you can look back with grace on the paths that you started but never finished, knowing that the whole time, you were being guided by the hand of a God who loves you and longs for the best for you. 

Remember those paths as on-ramps, and rejoice. 

And if the path you are on right now is one that you know in your heart is not what's ultimately meant for you, don't despair, and don't start thinking that you are stuck. Keep walking, and the path you were meant to follow will find you. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever. Amen.  


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