I can vividly recall the moment I first felt that I was truly a beloved child of God. While in worship one Sunday, I had only been attending worship for a month or so, I said the Lord’s Prayer for the very first time. As I said those words, I was moved to tears and felt changed. My heart felt full, my burdens felt light. I took Holy Communion for the first time that day, after I felt filled with the Holy Spirit. I still think back on that moment and realize that while I was not prepared to meet God, He was prepared to meet me my entire life. I thought I was happy as things were in my life, but it wasn’t until I felt the presence of God in my life that I knew that what I had before was not nearly as complete and fulfilling as what God offered to me. I accepted Christ as my savior that day, in a prayer I offered up to Him in worship, and again after worship when I shared my experience with my husband. I knew that my life would never be the same, and I could not have been more correct in that! I know there have been various other times that I feel that God drew me closer when I was trying to convince myself of my unworthiness, however I always go back to that first moment that I, as an adult, felt God put His arms around me, drawing me closer and instilling the knowledge in me that nothing can keep me from Him and that He has always been and will always be my Lord and Savior.
I felt called by God to work in Children’s Ministry almost immediately following my acceptance of Christ. I was not sure I was suited for it, but there was an overwhelming feeling of needing to be involved. After a few months of my arguing with God that I was not qualified, I gave in and contacted our pastor and staff parish chairperson. I asked them to hire me for a position that did not exist and was not being advertised as an open position. They too felt that I was called to that job, and I was hired as a child care coordinator for the nursery and then as the part time director of children’s ministries. I was happy in those roles for several years. Then I felt God stirring in me again to be involved in youth ministry.
Again, I tried to tell God that I knew what I was doing, and that I was just fine where I was. After all, I was comfortable in children’s ministry. I knew what I was doing by that point. Why would I want to work in youth ministry too and give up my part time status as well as my weekends to work in youth ministry? Why would I want to stretch myself to work with an age group I had no experience with? However God did not give up on me, and it literally felt like a slap on the head with a voice saying “just do it and trust me”. I asked the pastor to consider me for the position of youth director, we had previously advertised the need for one, but the position had not been filled in 6 months and we had not advertised for it recently by that point. Again, I was happy, comfortable and content in my new role as director of youth and children’s ministries.
Then, a few years into my new ministry, I felt God stirring in me again. I clearly heard Him say “this is not all you are to do for me, Sarah.” As a woman in her forties with 2 children in their teens/preteens, I felt that surely God was joking because I already work full time, which we all know is not just 40 hours per week in ministry. I felt that God surely must be joking because what more could I possibly do? Then I felt God tell me to get my master’s degree. I had just graduated from Indiana Wesleyan with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies a week prior. I called the admissions department and applied to the Master’s program for Youth, Children and Family Ministry and began classes a few weeks later. Immediately I felt God tell me that was not exactly what He had in mind. Yes, I am called to Family Ministry. However I was not sure what else He could possibly want from me.
Then, at our Annual Conference in 2015 as we sang “Is it I, Lord?” I felt God nudging me, literally pushing me, to stand and go forward when Bishop Mike asked if anyone felt called to ordained ministry. I did not know what that meant and did not know how I could possibly be called, but I did know that it was time to stop fighting my calling and to live into the life that God has planned for me.
And today I find myself feeling like God must be calling me to something more than I am prepared for. There was never a moment I questioned that God could call a woman to do his work. In fact, it was my own low self esteem that had me doubting myself, but never doubting that it was because I am a woman. It has been my belief that God calls whomever He chooses, and it is not up to us to determine if we are qualified, or to judge if anyone else is qualified. We are only humans, doing the work of the King, not sent here to judge who should be doing that work. God has used so many people that many would consider to be underqualified, so it is incredible to me to doubt whom He chooses is not the best person for the job, regardless of what we see or don’t see in them.
I do not know what to expect in the United Methodist Church in light of the Way Forward (or the way backward, in my personal opinion) decision. I do know that God is God, and is bigger than any of us or any of our beliefs. God has called me to serve HIS children, whomever they may be, wherever they may be, and however I can. And so, I say again “Here I am, Lord, send me.” And I cannot wait to see where God takes me!