The grace of God, in Jesus Christ, has, in a very real sense, gone before me, and, is now, going ahead of me. This good work is my cooperation with this grace, it is to live a life where my truest and hardest calling is to love and worship Jesus, and, trusting in His goodness, loving and serving my neighbor. I have been invited into the family of God and to the supper of the Lamb, present and future, a wide-open, joy-filled life in which, in order that I may move closer to Jesus, I must confront and renounce the sin that hinders my ability to love Him, others, and myself. I have chosen to attend seminary because this grace has gone before me and led me, most assuredly, to this place, to continue to grow in this grace and my ability to communicate and discuss what it is to lead a righteous life in pursuit of Jesus.
My calling is to serve the Church through scholarship, through proclamation, and through advocacy. It is clear to me that I am called to serve the Church. This is a pretty broad statement and category; however, I can not escape this sense, this leading, this vision. It it is unclear to me whether this will encompass ordained ministry, non-profit or missionary work, or life as a scholar in the academy. I struggle with my “scholarly” temperament and the usefulness of such gifts. I long to more fully bring to bodily form what is formed mentally, and I know that I am not excused from the work of loving or serving simply because I am in possession of these tendencies. Yet I know and am sure that the Body of Christ requires a variety of gifts to enable its flourishing. It is hard, sometimes, for me to accept and embrace these gifts, yet I know that Jesus is honored when I do exercise them, whether for the purposes of exegeting Scripture or for discussing frameworks for Christian ethics, or any number of issues. I am unclear, though, about my niche in the world of academia, having diverse interests, including Christian treatment of mental illness, Christian frameworks of thinking about and caring for creation, and so on.
I am afraid of not living into the fullness of my calling, of being afraid to trust my future and security to God in the midst of my uncertainty about what this calling entails. I am unsure of how I may be received, as a woman, as an introvert, as an intellectual, and as someone who struggles with mental illness. I am afraid I may rely too much on my estimation of my own strength and capabilities and underestimate how God can use someone with my particular set of gifts to bring glory to His name and healing and good news to those who most need it. I get excited about my calling when I think about how God’s power in me has brought His grace near, through venues of teaching and preaching, and sharing how the fruits of honoring God with my mind have been woven into my life, enabling me to grab hold of the hope of Jesus’ resurrection with all the more confidence.
To be reminded that God is the One who will bring His own work to completion in me is to be reminded that I am part of a big, beautiful story, that, though sometimes terrifying in the face of the unknown, is in the hands of One who is reading me into it. This God, in Jesus, has offered us the Kingdom, and has provided us with all we need for life and godliness as we journey in and towards it. This extravagant promise is what draws me, and convinces me to keep going.