Friday, October 26, 2012
Preacher Girl Revived
When I first felt called to ministry it had everything to do with the Word.
I was in college, young, crazy enough to follow the passions stirred up within me. I had gotten involved in the Wesley Foundation, our Methodist campus ministry. We had something we called an outreach group that traveled to different churches singing, performing skits, dramatic readings, anything that could help a rag tag group of students share the Hope that was in them.
I always sang a song and introduced it with a story.
Singing was not new to me. I had done that since I was a little girl. But there was something about weaving the stories together: God's Big Story, in and through and around my story. It stirred up within me a Fire that burned bright and whole and fresh and consuming. I discovered God's Word reverberating against the walls of my own life; telling the story of how that happened, finding ways to show others how it happens for them too burned big inside my gut, that thing I could not get enough of. I knew there was more to that experience than just singing occasionally with my college friends.
That was the beginning of my love for telling the old, old Story. I used to tell others that God could call any kind of person into ministry, showing them my own life as example. If God can use someone who tends to look like she belongs in junior high, someone who has a funny sounding voice, who is a bit on the "I'm just crazy enough to do it" side, who appreciates 6th grade boy humor, who can be scared of her own shadow, yet bouncing off the walls with just a single bite of chocolate, then God can use anybody to share His Word.
I love that God brought me back to that same Wesley Foundation to be a minister where I first discovered my love for ministering His Word. And when that season was over, God moved me to a place where I could minister to my family, three little boys and one great big handsome one to occupy my attentions.
He also brought me to our church's preschool to teach in the Pre-K classroom. Everyday I am surrounded by a sea of four year olds. Pre-schoolers are at home with my junior high looks, funny sounding voice, crazy personality, 6th grade boy humor, and timid sometimes, bouncing off the walls self. I get told often, "Ms. Sami, you are so silly!" I marvel at God's sense of humor. When I was twenty-six and right out of seminary, He sent me to serve as an associate pastor in South Florida. Our congregation was full of senior adults. So much of my work there revolved around end of life issues. And now that I'm . . . no longer twenty-six . . . my work focuses on beginning of life issues. Given the patience and creativity and resourcefulness it takes to guide a room full of four-year-olds, this job requires the greater amount of experience.
Every week at preschool we go to chapel. When I first began last year, there was already someone leading chapel. Like me, she had a ministry background. It was nice knowing someone knew my world, knew how crazy life and calling transitions can feel. It was comforting to know I wasn't the only one figuring out how to share God's Word in a whole new way. I began helping out with chapel once a month or so. When this school year started we shared chapel responsibilities.
Several weeks ago my friend announced she was leaving to take a position as a children's minister at a church in her home state. She would be returning to so many things that bring her deep joy. I rejoiced with her when I heard her news. It is bittersweet. I will miss her companionship, her knowing those parts of this ministry journey that are so hard share in casual conversation. As we hugged for the last time she whispered in my ear, "God brought you at just the right time." God brought me, to fill a space that needed a preacher girl.
Last week Tim saw my old clergy robes hanging on the door. He was a bit perplexed to see them. I haven't had those things out since I was an associate pastor, over ten years ago. I explained that they came in handy when telling the story of the Good Samaritan to four year olds. Funny. When I put them on during chapel that day, it felt like I was coming home to myself. Chapel is home to me. Being the girl who wraps God's Story up with words that connect it to the flesh that we are, well, that's the only girl I want to be. Even when the flesh I'm wrapping with God's Word has only been on the planet so short a time.
I have no idea where this journey will end. I just know that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And that Word keeps on dwelling and swelling in me, and I must keep sharing it wherever God gives me the opportunity. I wonder at God's choice for me, in this calling. I know that in His perspective it all makes sense, and I trust that there will come a day when it will make sense to me too. My friend affirmed that truth as well. "It all makes sense now," is what she said. God had been preparing her for a Harvest she knew nothing about with a path that was out of her ordinary. And it seems God is doing the same thing for me.
All I can say is that as I'm waiting for my own land of Promise, it is so good to have a pulpit again. Even if it is only a music stand.