College students sure say the darndest things.
I recently heard a student say, “I just really want to get married and have ten kids already!” Don’t get me wrong; this is a great goal. But when you consider this guy doesn’t even have a girlfriend, the odds of all that happening this week don’t look very good for him.
I feel like that happens to us a lot. We hear the call to a vocation — and then two weeks later, we’re wondering why we’re not married yet. Or we know that God wants us saving souls with our future career, but we still have about 500 years of school to finish first.
Why is it that God’s time so rarely matches up with what we want in our lives?
In Luke 13, Jesus tells the story of an impatient landowner who really wants his fig tree to bear fruit, but after three years of waiting, he’s about to cut it down. The gardener — who’s apparently much more patient, and who clearly knows more about trees — says, “Let me cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future” (Lk 13:8-9).
Perhaps God makes us wait because our souls aren’t yet ready to bear fruit — and because God needs some time to cultivate the ground. We may still have wounds that could get in the way of our vocation, or we may not have the skills or experience to work in a career that God is calling us to serve Him in. Waiting gives Him time to make us ready — if we let Him.
But we can’t “just wait.” We need to prepare too. While you’re preparing (and not just sitting around waiting), it’s important to keep building your relationship with God! Run to Him and surrender to the work He’s doing in you. Instead of worrying about what His will is three, four or five years down the road, focus on doing His will today. This will probably include things like praying, going to Mass, eating, doing laundry — and, yes, going to class (God wills for you to do those daily necessities)!
I recently read an awesome example of this “waiting game” in St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography, Story of a Soul. At one point early on in the book, Therese knows she’s supposed to be a Carmelite, but she tries to join and is turned away because she’s too young. In the time she waited, she resolved to live more seriously and to sacrifice the waiting for God. Making small sacrifices every day, she says, “It was through the practice of these nothings that I prepared myself to be a fiancée of Jesus, and I cannot express how much this waiting left me with sweet memories.”
We have an amazing opportunity before us to practice preparing instead of waiting, and it’s called Advent.
As Christmas draws closer, we know something so beautiful will be celebrated — Christ incarnate, God made Man. Yes, you could spend advent looking at your watch, eating that little chocolate from your Advent calendar every day, and thinking “Jesus, will you hurry up and get here already?” Instead of that, prepare yourself by praying more, fasting and giving to the poor. On Christmas, you can smile to yourself, knowing that you prepared, and you’re actually ready for Him.
And If you keep saying “yes” to Him in the little things like these, I promise the bigger things, like your job and your vocation, will fall into place.
College is a time of transition, and so is young adulthood in general. Sometimes it feels like you’re just waiting to move on to the next step of your life. Even after college, God will sometimes make us wait on the big stuff, but there’s so much beauty in using that time to prepare!
You’re not “just waiting” when you know God can use that time for His grand plan (and is, in fact, a part of that grand plan).
And the garden He cultivates will probably turn out better than you imagined.