After I announced on Facebook this week that I had been discontinued from provisional deacon status with The United Methodist Church people began responding. Some noted that God has something greater planned. As I responded, everyday having the opportunity to see women’s lives transformed in Christ through the Titus 2 discipleship ministry is experiencing God’s BEST! I don’t know how it could get any greater! I get to hear the stories of how God is presenting himself to them through the Word, by God’s Spirit, through people, and in their daily circumstances. Today as we drove home from Destin Sacred Heart Hospital one young lady told me that a difficult thing I had her do last week had, after a couple of days, proven to be a liberating experience and changed dramatically her thinking about where she is in her life and what she wants. Wow! What I had her do was not what I intended….it was one of those sudden little nudges that God just put in my mind in the moment in the privacy of the counseling office to which I was obedient! You could have knocked me over with a feather today when she told me how it had impacted her! God knows far better than I how to touch them in the depths of their hearts and I pray daily that I will be quiet enough to hear God’s direction with each one.
After one woman named Martha said that God has wonderful plans for me, I wrote:
One word has been repeated to me over and over in the last two weeks, Martha, as I have prayed. “Enough”. God has said I am enough. Who I am and what I do is enough. The effort I have put into pursuit of clergy status has been enough. My life has been one of pursuit of excellence and life long learning, both in my prior career and since committing the rest of my life to Christ in a ministry vocation 10 years ago. I have sought to serve Christ, his church and his people with the best I had to give. God seems to be telling me to rest and enjoy the fruits of my labors……that I can be content with Titus 2’s ministry and the other things I choose to do just as they are. I can cease striving, pushing, doing, and seeking. I regret that I have not been able to offer God, Christ’s church, and especially those God has called me to serve what I believed was the highest and best of my education, experience, and devotion through deacon’s ordination. The board has made its decision. In truth, it made the decision the first time I came before the ordination interview team in 2014. I believed, however, that if I worked hard enough and remained faithful in what I believed firmly was God’s will, that I could change what I knew was a decision that had little to do directly with me and the ministry I do. With this discontinuation of clergy status, I believe that God’s plans for me now may actually be to take life easier, to have a leisurely schedule in ministry daily at Titus 2, to enjoy more time with my husband as he copes with health issues, play piano, garden again, and finish some quilts. Not a bad deal! One that I think God would have offered me actually, even with deacon ordination….so it seems that ordination was not critical to what God was doing at all…..Getting ordained or not getting ordained would not have changed anything I do or anything that God is doing! Isn’t it ironic that something that seemed special, holy, and perfectly designed for me turned out to be absolutely irrelevant in the end?
The Lord told me 19 years ago, “I don’t need clever wordsmiths. I desire faithful teachers.” He called me first to Christian Education – to teaching the Word – and that’s exactly where I’ll be when my CE certification is renewed at Annual Conference at the same time that discontinuation of my pursuit of deacon ordination is voted on…..teaching. It had seemed to me that Deacon’s Orders- Word, Service, Compassion and Justice – was the highest and best expression of what God had called me to do. The Church decided it wasn’t. God’s purpose and will is fulfilled anyway….I’m a good teacher…..because I am a good student of the Holy Spirit….and God knows that! Much about denominational mainline churches has been called “irrelevant” by many in recent years….I never thought God would lead me to that same conclusion about something as fundamental to my deeply held traditional religious dogma as ordination and the episcopal structure of the Church that I have loved and been part of for 44 years! When I was told in that original ordination interview, “You don’t need ordination for what you do,” the die was cast. And, as I reflect on the apostolic church of the first century, ordination nor episcopal organization seem to have been relevant then, either. People gathered in homes to worship, teach, study, break bread in fellowship, and celebrate communion. Ordination to do any of that is a construct of the later organization of man…not Christ’s requirement. And so the word of the interview chairman, repeated numerous times in that interview, have come full circle….confirming my understanding of the Word and God’s will instead of offending my sense of calling. Praise God!