A reflection on God's call
By Stephanie Templin
Lancaster Theological Seminary
At an interview with my local Church and Ministry committee, the chair asked me if I resonated with the opening words of the prophet of Jeremiah. I timidly nodded my head yes and smiled. Immediately after the interview I went home and looked up the text. As I read through the verses I found the beautiful words: Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." While I was honored that the minister felt that this passage applied to my life, I wondered how God's consecration of my journey toward ordained ministry was any different from the blessings bestowed upon all of my sisters and brothers. I have come to understand that answering a call from God, be it for ministry or for accounting, is more of a self-recognition of what God has placed in each one of us before we were even aware of ourselves.
My journey has been marked with times of obsessive church attendance, times of despair, times of complete physical and emotional absence, and times of overwhelming joy. As I enter my third year of seminary, it has become abundantly clear how obviously God works in our lives, most of the time looking in retrospect! In all seriousness, as a young woman boldly entering the ministry scene, the opportunities are bountiful, challenging, and fulfilling. Awe inspiring experiences of leading worship, supporting justice movements, digging through scholarly biblical research, and planning the annual pasta dinner are all benefits to the life of a future minister.
Sometimes, however, it is not so easy to discern the difference between God's call and our personal will for our lives. My call made itself evident in an old folk's diner when I tried to consistently change the conversations with past ministers and the consistory president from seminary to the freshest pies on the shelf. I was headed for the scholarly life of knowledge and wisdom, until one day a man who regularly spent hours pouring over volumes and sipping his java looked me square in the eye and said "There is a world out there that needs your help."
That was far from the only experience that drew me toward my call. There were also endless hours of voluntarily helping out at the church, long conversations with whoever would talk about God, and a desire to somehow fit into the clothes of this world, knowing deep down that my perfect attire was of a different cloth. My call story is unique, as is each one of yours. Many folks I have met in seminary have hardly stepped foot in a church, others have had powerful conversion experiences, and still others have followed a life-long religious path. Each way that God appears in life is valid, whether it is in a church, a shelter, a restaurant, or in the printed type of a computer screen, but the real challenge lies in the recognition of what God has consecrated you to achieve.