As we grow older, we all begin to wonder why we are here. As we struggle with purpose, we wonder if it wouldn't be much nicer to go back to childhood when for most people, life in this world seems eternal and idyllic. Of course, it wasn't long before we began to realize that the Eden of our childhood is but a temporary place. If we haven't figured out that life has hardships earlier, adolescence is pretty quick to teach us otherwise. Entering adulthood, we find the need to make a living overpowers all other desires. Some of us choose to focus so hard on the duties that society has imposed upon us that we forget that we once had dreams; we cannot hear the Voice of God calling us to be still. We cannot perceive God's prevenient grace, for we are busy focusing on the noise of the world.
Then, for many of us, there comes the time when we realize that there must be more to life. We think about all the storms of life, the earthquakes and thunderstorms of our jobs and the whirlpools of family and friends, and then we stop. We hear the silence, and in the silence, the Voice of God. Our hearts are warmed, our minds are opened. Suddenly, we know that it's time to follow a path toward something greater. This is no "middle-age crisis," no fear of death or endings, yet it is as life-changing and shattering as finding a new love. It is a new life. It is knowing that there is a purpose that needs to be discovered. A new Way of Being that needs to be embraced.
Some people find new a hobby, some take up a hobby they left behind. Some people explore a new career, others take the path they didn't take when they were younger. Then there are those who recognize a Voice from their childhood; the Voice they didn't understand but felt in their hearts, in their guts, in the deepest part of their soul. This Voice is a Song; a very old Song, a new Song, an eternal Song...it is the Song of the Universe, the Song of Creation, the Song of the Lord of All, of Wisdom, of the Christ with all the angels in chorus. Those who hear that Voice know there is no turning away from the Call. It may be a Call to humble service; it may be a Call to teaching children or adults; it may be a Call to any vocation as a Lay Person in a church...and it may be a Call to ordination in the tradition that they follow.
This is the Call that I have heard. It's a tough Call to follow. God may be be the Singer, but humans make the decisions, lay out the pathway, challenge the Call. We run from it, because we can't believe that we might have what it takes to lead people in their Spiritual Walk. We call ourselves Jonah, until the day we realize that no matter what we do, we're going to end up in Nineveh anyway. Puked up on the beach and floundering, I became Jacob. Not knowing for sure where or how I was called, I wrestled with God. I withdrew from the certification process. Until one day, there was no denying that I was Called to be an Elder in the United Methodist Church. To lead congregations. To write and preach sermons. To sit with the ill, the depressed, and the dying. To work for justice. To marry those in love, to bury those in Love. To bring the love of Christ to the parish. To work beside my brothers and sisters to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
I know I'm Called. God knows I'm Called. I pray that those who make the decisions allow the Holy Spirit to convince them that I am Called. It's not an easy path to follow. It takes a lot of work, a load of financial debt, and a huge..and I mean huge...leap of faith.
I started working on my Master's in Divinity degree in 2008 with the Claremont School of Theology's Phoenix Program. I was a single mother, working full time. I carried enough credit hours to qualify for financial aid. Eventually, the time came to commute weekly, working as many hours as I could to earn a living while driving to California and back every week. Had I continued this into the spring of 2012, I would have graduated in May 2012. Instead, I chose to take all online classes - available for the first time - and work full time. I had gotten married during the fall semester, and I wanted to spend more time with my family. It was a mistake. That semester took me three credits over the allowable number to receive federal financial aid. I hadn't saved anything from my previous semesters' financial aid. I paid bills; I supplemented my income; I paid for gas and a room in California, I made vehicle repairs and house repairs. I bought groceries.
I was blessed to receive a scholarship from a church coalition that paid for the online class I am taking this semester as I wrap up my nine year career as a church Office Manager. Another scholarship paid for my books and some other expenses. Now I will graduate in May of 2013. In order to do that, I will be commuting to California each week during the spring semester. The toughest part is going to be paying for it. Thanks to the generous scholarship from the church coalition, the tuition for one of my three required classes is covered. I will still have tuition for two classes, fees, and the cost of the commute and two nights a week in a hotel. I will no longer be working. This is the greatest leap of faith I have ever taken. It feels like I'm ready to jump over the Grand Canyon.
And yet, I know...I have discovered my purpose. My eyes are fully open to new vision, new ideas, new ways of doing things. God will provide.