I graduated in 2011 and the plan was that God would provide a call that was good for me AND my family soon after graduation. A bigger assumption could not have been had.
Here’s the thing: God is faithful even if/when we aren’t. For the last 3(ish) years I have been in a vocation that I love but it’s not the vocation that God ultimately called me to. I am supposed to be a pastor. I was as sure of that as I could have been. But then came my wilderness period.
I watched my classmates receive calls. Then I watched the graduating class after me receive calls. Then the class after them…and on and on… I attended ordination after ordination at times, with tears in my eyes. I wondered “how long oh Lord.” There were days when waiting wasn’t bad. I loved what I was doing. There were other days when I was frustrated. There were days when I was angry. God was faithful even when I wasn’t.
Then, the call came–literally, my phone rang. “We’ve got paperwork for a church we’d like you to look at” said the voice of the assistant to the Bishop on the other end. “Sure, send it along.” I knew I was in trouble after a first read. The congregation wrote in their paperwork that they desired a pastor with a sense of humor. The paperwork said this not once, but twice. This was the congregation God had intended for me to serve all along. My wilderness looked to be coming to an end. God’s faithfulness had never wavered.
After a long (yet quick) process, the vote came through and the congregation voted to call me as their pastor and I am gleefully accepting. I hope to document the process of our move, my ordination, instillation, etc… as the weeks go on.
What have I learned in this process of waiting: 1) “ministry” takes many forms. Just because I wasn’t serving a congregation, doesn’t mean I wasn’t involved in ministry. I engaged in pastoral care in many and various ways over the last few years. 2) One cannot make it thru the wilderness alone. During this time, I had an amazing network of friends and family supporting me, praying for me and encouraging me. 3) It deserves said again: God is faithful even when/if we aren’t. My faith was challenged at times during this time of waiting. God never stopped loving me, God never stopped raining grace upon me, God never stopped accompanying me. 4) God’s timing is not the same as our timing. 5) The vocation to which God calls us is, indeed, Holy work. It doesn’t matter what your vocation is, if you’re engaged in the vocation God created you for, you’re doing Holy work. I needed to remind myself of this a few times over the years. 6) Prayer is essential…. but 7) So is a sense of humor.
How have you survived wilderness periods in your life? The next steps aren’t going to be easy but I already know God has gone ahead of me. Fasten your seat belts kids, it’s going to be fun!