Thursday, May 27, 2010

God Is Calling

The most extraordinary thing happened to me last weekend. I was ordained an elder in the church. It all started months ago with a phone call. The woman on the other end of the line asked me to pray about stepping into this leadership role. After a great deal of leadership training and presenting the testimony of God’s work in my life to the current church leadership, God’s call was affirmed in a very traditional and ceremonial display last Sunday.

Along with my fellow officers elect, I was asked to publicly affirm my belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and as Head of the Church, in his Holy Word, and in the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I vowed to live by and uphold the tenets of the reformed faith, to reach out in the love of Christ to all, to work for the reconciliation of the world, and to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love while doing my best to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church. I vowed to shepherd the people he has put in my charge, provide for their worship, nurture and service, and to discipline when necessary while trying to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ to all. Wow! What was I thinking?! I can’t do that! What was God thinking?! There’s an old saying that God never gives you more than you can handle and it’s times like this that I’m absolutely sure that he indeed overestimates my ability.

Anyway, back to the ordination. I was blessed to have some very special people in attendance celebrating this incredible moment in my faith with me. My parents watched on as their daughter knelt before God once again submitting her life and service to his will. While my parents practice a different religion than I do, and may not have fully appreciated the miraculous thing that was happening, they were there for me – The mother who prayed consistently and fervently through my troubled teen years that God would bring me through another day and the father whom God has restored to me after many years of broken relationship. I was also blessed to have the woman whom God has made my sister in faith, if not in flesh. She was the connection that brought me further into his church and his service by her example. Lastly, God blessed me with the presence of the man who has been a father in the faith to me, my mentor and friend. He is to me what Paul was to Timothy in that he has nurtured my faith and taught me to love God with all I am, to seek God with all my heart and to rely on the Spirit to lead me through life in the light of Jesus Christ my Savior.

After we publicly affirmed our beliefs and vows, all the ordained elders of the church were invited forward to lay hands on us as the pastor led the congregation in prayer asking God to fill us with his Holy Spirit and use us according to his purpose as we strive to fulfill his call on our lives. My God-sister and my mentor came forward along with countless others to lay hands on us and for the first time in over a year, I was acutely aware of the Spirit in and around me. I sensed the protective fortress of brothers and sisters in Christ behind me and the warmth of these kind-hearted people radiated up around my back and neck as a cool openness drew my heart to the cross I was facing and a peace settled in me. It was an awesome and humbling moment I won't ever forget.

Part of me is still intimidated by the tremendous responsibility that God has called me to take on. However, in the days that have followed that worship service, I’ve come to realize that the old saying, as we so commonly state it, is incomplete. We too often forget to add the most important element which is “with his help.” God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle with his help. I can’t do all that stuff I promised to do. And I’m not supposed to – at least not alone. God does the work. He supplies the ability and the power needed to complete his will on this earth and in my life. The only confidence I need to have is confidence in God’s ability and power and when I have complete confidence in God, I feel stronger and more able than I ever could on my own.
About the pictures:
Pittsburgh, PA (May 2010)

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