Never before had I felt so nervous. I have stood at the front of our sanctuary countless times before, but this time it was different. I was not there to lead worship or hymns, it was not the start of a night at vacation bible school. It was after the offering prayer on that particular Sunday morning, and the regular announcements were done. The only thing left for me to do before turning the service back over to Pastor for the benediction was to make an announcement that was very personal to me…
For the past several months I have been struggling to discern what God is calling me to do. I had spent many hours in prayer, sought the counsel of prayerful people, started a blog, but still couldn’t quite figure out what that little, quiet voice was trying to say to my soul. Until we had a guest speaker in our pulpit.
The visitor was from the C.S. Lewis Institute and his goal that morning was to introduce our congregation to his local office in Youngstown. He talked about what the Institute was and the need for discipleship. He was a very interesting speaker and passionate about his topic! I couldn’t believe we had such a great place in such close proximity to us.
Then he mentioned that the Institute also offered a fellows program. Intrigued by the few comments he had made about the Fellows program I wanted to know more and stopped by the information table that was set up. The very lovely wife of our guest speaker provided me with a wealth of information about this program.
The Fellows program is a year-long structure for people who want to learn more about discipleship and apologetics. It involves a monthly time commitment, extensive reading, meeting regularly with a small group, and one on one time with a mentor each month. It sounded a little overwhelming, but I put my name and email on a list of people who would like to receive more information, but I wasn’t convinced this was for me. I went home inundated with new thoughts and questions.
Then the small voices shouted, “This is it! Seize it!”
All at once I realized that this could be the answer to all of my prayers, and began to talk about it in earnest with my husband. He agreed that it did seem like the kind of program I would love, and he encouraged me to continue to pray about it. It did indeed seem that this was all part of what the Spirit has been nudging me to do.
The application process was intimidating to say the least! It started with a six page application that required essay type answers to questions about where I was in my spiritual life, how often I read my bible, what the quality of my prayer life was like, and what kind of spiritual gifts was I given?
In addition to the application I completed, I had to find two people to complete recommendations for me. One had to be from the Pastor and the other from a person that has known me for a while and can attest to where I am currently at in my journey.
After all of the paperwork was in, I continued to pray as I waited for a response. It came in the form of an interview request, and on a bright sunny afternoon in April I entered the offices of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Youngstown for what turned out to be a half hour interview.
Then the wait began in earnest.
A week passed.
Followed by a third.
I was started to doubt that I had received the correct message from the Spirit. Each day I eagerly stopped at the end of our driveway to check the mailbox. For anyone that knows us well, they know that we rarely check our mailbox on a regular basis because all of our bills and expenses come electronically. So the box is normally overflowing with flyers and junk mail before we get it. But for three long weeks I was a faithful attendant to the poor little mailbox at the end of our driveway that is missing its little door.
Finally a letter arrived, and it was good news!
Such an awesome feeling to see how the hand of Providence moves! All the things that I have been seeking will be tackled in this coming year. So many expectations are building of what the coming year holds in store during this journey.
First and foremost is a better understanding of what I believe and why that will lead to a deeper, more meaningful faith. One that will sustain me better in the storms of life and will draw me closer to my Maker.
My hope is that this program will help me overcome my “yes” person ways, allowing me to become more focused and intentional in everything that I do. For the past few years I have been a Martha, scurrying to do every task that comes my way. Now the time has come for me to be Mary, and sit at the feet of the great Teacher and learn his ways.
All of these things combined will help me to be better able to disciple and relate to those around me. It will give me the confidence to lead our youth in Sunday school knowing that I can help them find their way. The knowledge on theology and apologetics will also be greatly beneficial in my role as a worship leader.
The writer in me is eager for so many new experiences. Perhaps this will be just the ticket to help me identify what my gifts are and how best to use them!
Back to my nerves at the front of the sanctuary:
On a warm morning at the end of May, with great trepidation I began to share the big news. I had never before shared anything that related directly to me before my church family. However that morning the story above came spilling out. The support and love coming back from them is beyond fantastic.
Orientation for the 2015-2016 Fellows program is just a few short weeks away. I can’t wait to dive in head first! Some of my books have begun to arrive and the required reading has begun! Looking forward to the adventures Yahweh has in store!
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7, NRSV)