Some of you who have been part of my faith journey in the past year know that since last Annual Conference, I answered a call to ordained ministry as a deacon in the UMC. For a few years I had known that I was called to spend my life in this church, but answering a call to ordained ministry was a huge step for me. As you can see, my life this year has been full of United Methodist warm fuzzies. But this year, I also fell in love with some Mennonites whose faith has challenged me deeply and shaped who I am becoming. Some people in my life are worried that I will end up being Mennonite, and others have promised they’ll still be my friend if I do. So what's up with this Mennonite stuff? I’d be lying if I said I’ve never entertained the idea of being a Mennonite. Do I think I’m called to ministry in the Mennonite Church? Not for a second. But does it sound like fun? Heck yes it does!
Going into Annual Conference this year, I was very aware of these dynamics. Before Annual Conference, I prayed that God would use Annual Conference to reignite my fire for the UMC. This doesn’t sound too bad, but if I’m being honest, what I really wanted was for God to make being a Mennonite seem like no fun at all and being a United Methodist seem like all the fun in the world. After all, that would make my life a whole lot easier. So, fast forward to the end of Annual Conference. As I looked back on the week, I felt like something was missing. I had enjoyed myself all week, but somehow I felt disappointed. I spent some time chatting with God about this, and I quickly realized that God didn't give me what I wanted at Annual Conference. Instead, God gave me what I needed.
God did confirm my call to ministry in the United Methodist Church. But instead of confirming my call with my desires, God confirmed my call in spite of my desires. God whispered gently, “You are called. Here. Don’t listen to your experiences or your desires. Only listen to me. Know who I am. Hear who I say you are. Let me teach you to see your church as I do- not as it is, but as it can be.” God didn’t answer my prayer the way I would’ve liked. But God answered my prayer in the way I needed. One might say that I’m stuck in the United Methodist Church, but I prefer to use the word “called” instead of “stuck.” (after all, isn't being called just a more holy, beautiful, fun version of being stuck?) In one conversation this week, a pastor encouraged me by saying, “You’ll ask yourself for a while if you really want to be United Methodist, but you’ll eventually realize it’s who you are.” In the core of my being, I know that who I am and who I am called to be is United Methodist. Sometimes, I still ask myself if that's who I want to be. But the good news is that when call and want collide, there is always a clear winner.
It’s kind of like rock, paper, scissors.
Call > want.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55.8-9
Pray Peace. Make Peace. Live Peace.