I am approximately 8 days away from embarking on the craziest, scariest, most exciting, most challenging, most satisfying adventure of my life. And I have been reflecting on how I got here, what my greatest fears are, and what my greatest hopes are. My greatest fear is the unknown– missing out on all the known adventures and opportunities here while not knowing which ones are out there (but knowing that, with God’s call being as strong and as sure as it is, there are unimaginable adventures out there). And my greatest hope is that this uncomfortable will soon become my comfortable— that I will be able to use my gifts, strengths, passions, and graces in ways which I have never been able to. That I will be able to discover my gifts, strengths, passions, and graces more and more and understand how they fit into God’s kingdom unifying work. But, for now, all I can do is imagine and dream. So, I am doing that. And, I am sharing the essay (or at least most of it) that helped get me into this school and (somehow by some still unknown act of God) got me a full tuition scholarship to this school. Because He is working in my uncomfortable still, even as it starts to become my comfortable:
Had you asked me two years ago where I would be today, I would not have said here. I probably would not have said applying to seminary or beginning the ordination process in the Free Methodist church. But, if I know anything about God, it is He calls us to the unknown.
I was raised in a Christian home. My favorite extra-curricular activity in high school had me memorizing entire books of the Bible. I could challenge my Pastors in theological debates and always had a Scriptural reference to back up my position. In fact, I was quite annoying in youth group and Sunday School because I would always have an answer, and I would get frustrated when the other kids did not understand something that, to me, seemed so obviously clear about Scripture. So, when I told people I was going to seminary, nobody was surprised. Well, no one except for me.
I began my undergraduate career pursuing a chemistry degree. I never knew what I wanted to do with my life, and I was good at all the subjects I had studied in High School, so I decided to study Chemistry. Until day one of freshman year when I began to wrestle with my choice.
I was taking an introductory Old Testament course which was one of the easiest A’s I’ve ever gotten. But it was one of the most challenging classes I ever took. Everyday my professor challenged the way I thought, what I had learned growing up, and what I thought I knew about the Bible. And I loved it. There was a day I almost forgot to go to classes because I was engrossed in my study. And from day one, my professor continuously told me she knew I would eventually change my major to Biblical studies or religion and philosophy or ministry. But, I didn’t. Or at least not right away.
The next semester, I had the same professor for New Testament, and she continued to insist I would change my major. I had been wrestling so much with myself because deep down I knew I should not be studying chemistry. I loved studying the Bible too much and studying chemistry not enough. So, I eventually decided to change my major.
After that, I no longer wrestled with what I wanted to study, but rather what I wanted to do after I graduated. But, after many conversations and much prayer, I knew that I was going to seminary.
What I did not know was what I wanted to study and what my goal was after graduating from seminary. I thought about studying to become a Pastor, but I did not really think I would make a good Pastor. I thought about just going for a degree in theology or Biblical studies so I could live in the world of academia—get my PhD, teach at universities, write books. A part of me wanted to get away from my hometown, but a part of me was afraid to leave everything I have ever known. I dreamed of living amidst the academics of the world and spending my days debating deep theological principles, but I also dreamed of walking amidst the poorest slums of the world loving people. I imagined teaching college students like myself and allowing my passion to remind them of their own, as my professor had done for me, but I also imagined standing up in front of a church on Sunday morning reassuring them that, despite their brokenness, God loves them. I wanted to write books and study deeply, but I also wanted to pastor the people and devote myself to serving them. The problem was, I struggled with the Church because I saw how much we get wrong, how much we do not look like the Biblical example, and I was not sure if I wanted to fight to fix it or if I wanted to work outside of it to train other young people to fight to fix it. But, I also struggled with the world of academia because I did not want to simply teach others how to get their hands dirty in ministry to fix the Church and help the world—I wanted to help do it myself—and I did not want to study the Scriptures just to teach others how to study them for fear that I would forget their power in my life and therefore cease to allow them to impact the way I live.
So, here I am. A local ministerial candidate in the Free Methodist church, applying to seminary, and preparing to go somewhere so far out of my comfort zone I can not even see my comfort zone. And, I am still unsure exactly where I am going to end up and what I will end up doing. But, I know that my call—whether it be to a pulpit, a classroom, a Kenyan slum, or some other traditional or non-traditional ministry context—is to be an image-bearer of God by sharing with others the truth of His Word and helping them come to an understanding of how they fit into the world as they seek to use their gifts to further His kingdom.