Yesterday was my charge conference. In the Methodist Church when someone wants to go into ministry there is a process that involves getting the support of the church. When I made the decision to follow GOD's call the first step was to meet with my district superintendent, then with the Pastor Parish Relations Committee (PPRC), then to have a special charge conference where the whole voting membership of the church has opportunity to hear my story, ask me questions, and vote on whether to approve me as a candidate for ministry. This is what happened yesterday.
My nerves kicked in Saturday. I had been pretty calm about it in the last few weeks, a little nervous about speaking, a little more nervous wondering what questions would be asked, but nothing too overwhelming. (that has been a significant thing in this whole process... my sense of peace about it). But Saturday night I really started to get nervous, complete with shaking and racing heart. Oh, the enemy was sending his fiery darts left and right... attacking me relentlessly with these whispers of doubt...'you got it wrong... you would make a terrible pastor' 'no one is going to believe that was God calling you' 'you are going to make a fool of yourself' 'people will think you aren't well enough to do this'... and so on and so on. By Sunday morning I was pretty much a wreck. Adding to the nerves was that I am doing the pastoral prayer each week while I am taking my public speaking class to get me more experience in speaking and praying. I don't remember much about the sermon (too bad too, I do know that I enjoyed it, just don't remember it) or anything else about the service because I was praying through most of it.
That's ok though, cause GOD was listening.
For my class we have to do four speeches. As I understood the assignment, we aren't supposed to read our speeches, but just speak them. So when it was time for me to get up and tell my call story I just stood up and spoke. Let me clarify that... GOD put words in my mouth and they came out. And I stayed calm (and upright... no passing out!!!) and watching it later I was amazed at how calm I seemed. I got choked up a few times, but it wasn't a fear or an anxiety thing, it was a 'I need you to know how much I love GOD and want to do this for Him' thing. The questions weren't that bad, mostly about time management and my church background, that kind of stuff. There weren't really that many, and before I knew it I was being sent out (my family and I had to leave so that they could discuss me freely) so they could vote.
I went into the sanctuary and prayed and played my violin. It seemed like fooooorrrreeeevvvveeerrr before Pastor came in to get me, and when she did I couldn't tell by her expression what the results were. The closer we got to fellowship hall the more my heart started racing, because I knew that whatever the results of the vote were, my life wouldn't be the same. Not that it will ever be the same again anyway, but it just seemed like a huge moment in my journey.
Thankfully the district superintendent (who was running the meeting) didn't waste any time telling me the results of the vote. 33 said yes, 4 said later, and one said no. I started tearing up and felt like the breath had been sucked out of me. They said yes!!! And even the one that said no said it because they were concerned about my health. And the comments that they wrote on their ballots. Oh the comments were so loving and supportive and encouraging. The DS told me to hold onto them and look at them when I need encouragement. Oh without a doubt I will keep them. They are a blessed reminder that I am loved and respected.
The thought occurred to me later that, even if I didn't go one step further in this journey, even if I stopped right now, GOD has already used my obedience to bless my life. He has shown me that I am loved by a whole lot of wonderful, godly people. He has shown me that I am capable of doing things that I never dreamed I could do. He has shown me that no one is a hopeless case, and that with trust in Him, and the support of His hands and feet... and heart... in this world, I can do that which He has called me to do. What an enormous blessing this journey has been so far. I know it hasn't been easy, and it will undoubtedly get harder and more challenging in ways I can't begin to imagine... but I'm seeing glimpses of the truth that it will be soooooooo worth it in the end.
Thanks be to GOD!!!!