Providence: The Christian understanding of God’s continuing action by which all creation is preserved, supported, and governed according to God’s plans and purposes for human history and human lives.
For the past eight months, I have done more thinking about my call to ministry than I did in the two years that led me tof July 2016. I have written and rewritten my statement of call, sat before two teams with my District Committee of Ordained Ministry to interview for certification (got it), and shared mini testimonies for everything from church bios to scholarship applications. I have been living and breathing this call through full-time seminary, a half-time church appointment, and trying to carve out some precious moments for the life that sustains me outside the church.
What I’ve missed out on during this walk that feels like a sprint is moments of quiet reflection to just feel God’s grace flow through me. I’ve lost touch with the mystical perception of God’s movement in and through me, the divine tide pulling me to sea and placing me somewhere new.
I confess that I have not loved you with my whole heart.
Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with my district superintendent and our new Bishop, Tracy Smith Malone, along with some of my favorite people in the world — a few of my seminary loves and three of my fellow badass clergywomen. As Bishop Malone shared the rhythm of God’s calling and equipping her for ever deepening ministry, it was all I could do to hold back tears. Her story is her own, but she spoke of the God moments, the real signs that compelled her to move further down the path, the same sweet spots that didn’t always align with the actions of others but that always guided her well…the same kinds of moments and sweet spots that have brought me to my knees with praise.
The marks of providence are unmistakable. I had plans to move ahead with seminary in 2015; instead, I had a beautiful baby girl and said, “Maybe next year.” Because of that delay, I had the chance to preach at a new church. Because of that delay, I entered seminary with some of the most Spirit-filled, compassionate, articulate, hilarious and brilliant people I have ever known. This smallish but mighty group of friends has challenged me, amused me, loved me, and allowed me to love them for the exquisite people they are. They have completed a part of my heart that I didn’t even know about until they came into my life.
Because of that delay, I was equipped when God’s providence called me to a church that needed me as much as I needed them. The passion for Jesus and justice I have found there is more inspiring every day I cross that threshold, and their openness to truly being God’s church is so humbling. I learn so much from them. Because of that one single delay, I also get to do ministry with some of those same seminary soul mates. I hope we never tire of this journey we’re on together.
Moments of pause are few and far between these days, but the ashes on my head convicted me to share the ashes on my heart–as well as the many ways that God is transforming those ashes into beauty.