I know this is partly bred of being overtired, and partly natural (according to our Warden of Readers who dismissed my mutterings as flippancy) but I’ve been having an acute attack of “What me God? You have to be joking!”
I have been totally convinced consistently that I have a calling to the ministry of preaching and teaching all the way through Reader Training. I have got depressed by the workload and some issues with the course at various points, but have been consistently encouraged by others who have heard me preach, or with whom I have worked (like my placement vicar), as well as marks I’ve received for assignments. I know I have problems in ‘technical recall’ of theological points, but I’ve been encouraged to think it will come with time, and anyway, normal people don’t want to hear technical terms, they want to know God’s love.
So why, when the forms are signed by me and the vicar, licensing is looming, and I’m starting to be more aware of being ‘a minister’, am I suddenly so scared and think that God’s got it wrong. Twice in the last week my thoughts and emotions have brought me to a standstill of questions, doubts and fears.
Even the lectionary has been trying to encourage me over our last residential weekend of training:
Psalm 116 v7-9 “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you… that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
Isaiah 50 v4-5 “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary…[and] opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”
Psalm 22 v25 “From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfil my vows.”
There’s a thought, not only will I make vows of obedience to God in ministry at my Licensing, but I will fulfil them… he will work through me for others. And yet, how much of this is me and how much is God I ask myself? When I can’t even find the right conversation to excite a couple enquiring about baptism to take a more serious interest in the faith that is so important to me, what do I think I’m playing at?!
And then, falling out my Bible a slip of paper noting the words of Timothy Radcliffe in this years Lent book –
Why are we so reluctant to be sent? Because it means dying to whom we have been. Preaching the Gospel is not a matter of turning other people into Christians just like ourselves. We are sent on mission to discover who we are in and for other people.
I’ve spent three years of training dying to who I was, and I’m totally shattered. I don’t want to turn people into boring Christians like me, but I don’t seem to have enough love of God inside me for it to overflow to them and offer them the vibrant and exciting life with God I see in others.
I won’t duck out now, I’d be too embarrassed and let too many people down (not good reasons I know), and the logical bit of my brain knows this is the bottom of the roller coaster ride we heard preached about yesterday, but please God can I have the love and enthusiasm for you that will enable to me enjoy my Licensing and delight in sharing you with others?
Don’t bother commenting on this rather selfish posting – just pray for me, and for any others entering authorised ministry who might be feeling anything like I am at present. And may God Bless you with a certainty I don’t currently have.