If you were given the opportunity to discover who God wanted you to be, what would you do?
Would you take it? It’s a scary question, but your curiosity may have you leaning in the direction of yes. Or maybe you are like me, not knowing if you really wanted to say yes but knowing you better not say no, remembering what happened to Jonah. So, you sit like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda waiting for the healing waters of the pool to be stirred, hoping that you will be the one to be healed this time.
I was born at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, so I say that I was born an Episcopalian and have been one my entire life: Attended Sunday School weekly as a child, helped the priest set up for the class, and lit the candles; became an acolyte when I was older and served as a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Licensed Preacher, Worship Leader, and Vestry Member as an adult. I loved being in church and helping others. I became a Distinguished Toastmaster, professional speaker and realized I could use my gifts of communication for God. Appointed to the diocese’s Anti-Racism Commission, I became an Anti-Racism Trainer, realizing that this was a unique way to share my God-given gift, but I always felt there was something more.
People I did not know would meet me and ask if I were a priest. I smiled and politely said NO! I had never considered it, but these random queries became more frequent. Like Jonah, I wasn’t going to hear of it, but I was smart enough not to tell God No. I just ignored it. I ignored the frequent questions and tried to play them off as random events. But deep in my heart I knew better.
God knew that I had a hidden desire to learn more about the Bible. My priest had me teaching Bible study between services; I did not want to do that either but wasn’t going to say no. Doing this showed me how little I did know and sparked my desire to learn more. Our church was without a full-time priest for 5 years and I was asked to conduct services and preach on occasion. I wanted to make sure that the church stayed active and I did not mind helping out.
Once our church called a new priest, I was relieved. Then a few years later I learned that the Diocese was starting a School of Ministry and was asked if I would be interested in being a deacon. I had a three-hour conversation and determined that this was a great opportunity. Like Peter, I decided to step out of the boat, with my eyes on Jesus. The school provided online classes that worked with my busy schedule.
Well, let me tell you: The workload and reading were initially overwhelming. I felt like I was going to drown, just like Peter. But I remembered that this is something I have been denying my entire life and the best opportunity for me to learn the things that I wanted to know about God and the Bible.
The School of Ministry has been a challenge and a blessing at the same time. As I end my second year, I know that this was the correct choice for me to make and that God has been guiding me every step of the way in this direction.
Just to give you an example: The course work placed me in a position to reflect on all of the trials and tribulations that I faced in my life, and I can honestly say that now I can see God’s hand in it all and am a living testimony that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.
So, if you are still sitting by the pool of Bethesda waiting, I am here to tell you to get up. Take the first step and take a course in the School of Ministry. God is no respecter of persons. What was done for me can happen to you. If you want to know more about the Bible? If you have a hunger to know who God really is? If you want to know how you can better serve God, then take a course in the School of Ministry. I promise you that your life will never be the same again.