You can’t just come to TLU and get some degree, find a job and begin some kind of routine, ordinary, and comfortable life. TLU graduates rarely settle for such a conclusion to their collegiate experience because somewhere along the way, during their years of preparation, they encounter that “V” word, “vocation,” from the Latin word for “calling.” TLU students have been challenged to take their education and live with purpose, find their great passion in life and use it to make a difference, to find in the words of Frederick Buechner, “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” That’s what being a TLU grad is all about, and just so you know, it’s also the secret to life. Find and live in that place “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
 
Two Advent stories of vocation help us understand this TLU experience. Like the prophets of old, John the Baptist is sent out to the wilderness to “Prepare the way of the Lord.” In the wilderness, as we struggle with the elements, face wild animals, and wrestle with demons we discover our vocation. In fact that is the story of Jesus, who after his baptism was driven out into the desert wilderness by the Spirit to be tested and readied for his ministry. In the wilderness God works with us from the outside in. The other great Advent story belongs to Mary. A story about an unexpected surprise, a story marked by “wonder,” “pondering” and “perplexity,” a story about giving birth, a story that works from the inside out.
 
Your time at TLU will be marked by wilderness moments. There will be great tests to endure, wild animals to be wary of, (the ones who create, administer, and grade the tests,) times when you will feel alone and even lost. There will be times when you need to summon up all your strength and courage to finish the race that is before you. The wilderness at TLU will serve you well, it will challenge you and help define you, it will reveal to you strengths you never knew you had, qualities and good character that you can draw from, and ensure that you are ready to use your gifts and talents, your great passion, “to prepare the way of the Lord.
 
And your time at TLU will be marked by quiet moments that will sneak up on you, “aha moments” that will surprise you, moments when angels from God, messengers from God, will speak to you and invite you to consider new and even strange things. They will awaken the passion inside you and encourage you to make a difference with your life. Those angels, God’s messengers, are all over campus; they are lecturing in classrooms, mentoring in offices, visiting along the pathways, and administrating with care. They are all around this place whispering wild and perplexing ideas about you and the kingdom of God. And yes sometimes those whispers take hold and give birth to an unexpected and incredible calling in life.
 
So, what is your calling? Discover it at TLU.
From Hospital to Art Studio: An alum finds his calling
After over 18 years of working in medical centers and ancillary services, TLU alum Matt Grones decided to trade in the hospital for an art studio. When Grones left the South Austin Surgical Center in 2010 to pursue the art of stained glass making, he admits there was some skepticism. However, the desire to meet more than just financial needs led him to taking a chance most people would not. He now encourages those thinking about transitioning into a new vocation to be courageous when chasing a dream. “When you do that and you know where you’re supposed to be, it’s wonderful,” he says. “To be able to know you’re in the right place doing the right thing adds years to your life and life to your years.” ◊

Look for the full story in the Fall 2012 issue of TLU's Torch magazine.