I am reading the most fascinating book right now, actually I am re-reading it for a second time in two weeks. It is titled "Who Needs God" and is written by Rabbi Harold Kushner, who was also the author of "When Bad Things Happen To Good People". This is one that I need to purchase and mark up with highlighter, it has so many profound statements in it that really hit home with me. I think what I connected with the most was that it put aside all issues of denominationalism, the differences in how we practice our various faiths, and in reality was not at all about "religion" but emphasized a need for a belief in God, however that may play out in your own life. So often I think we get hung up on the minutiae and debates about which religion is right or wrong, that we forget what it is all about...a belief in a Creator much larger than ourselves. As Christians we can argue about pre-tribulation or post-tribulation Rapture, we can argue about creation versus evolution, we can debate ad infinitum about which translation of the Bible is "correct" or not, we can be those who believe in literal interpretation or non-literal interpreters.
When it all comes down to it though, much of that is absolutely meaningless if you can't feel God moving in your life. I mean, who cares about discussing the finer points of your religion if you don't really have a basis for that faith in the first place?
Adoption, unlike any other experience I have ever had, has helped me to draw closer to God. Since I was a teenager I sought Him out, heard His voice, and let Him guide me long prior to ever having any formal religious training or influence. I just knew He was there. I don't know why or how, but I did. But it is through relinquishing control in the ways we are forced to with adoption that one learns what it means to "have faith". We find ourselves so utterly helpless, that we have to trust that a Power greater than ourselves is at work so we can find the courage to continue. There a million small ways in which we have to trust God during the process...in selecting an agency, determining which country to go to, accepting the referral of a child whom we have perhaps never met. It all requires faith.
I have eluded on the blog to a lot of things going on in the background of my life right now. I have been struggling mightily against a Force that is unable to be denied. I have questioned it, fretted about it, sobbed about it, worried about it and ultimately surrendered to it. I have kept quiet about it for awhile as it worked its way deep into my soul, so I could begin to feel some level of comfort myself with it.
It seems that God is calling me in a way I never expected. I have been asking "Why me?" for months now, and don't actually understand it at all, nor do I agree with God's timing. But after having had many signs along the way that I at first worked very hard to ignore, then found myself mystified by, and even tried to convince myself I was crazy, I found myself at a defining moment...and with tears streaming I understood the words of the hymn as they were sung...
"Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart."
Yes, He was talking to me...He was actually telling me repeatedly "It's you."
So, still without really understanding why or how I may be someday used, I have given up and am enrolling in a licensed Lay Ministry program which will begin in January. There was a sense of urgency imparted on me to move forward, even as I tried to bargain with Him that I needed to wait until our family was complete and we were all somewhat settled. However He was having none of those delay tactics, and under the constant barrage of signs I was wearing down. I am doing such a poor job of explaining this and wish that I could find a way to say "He wouldn't leave me alone! And He kept at me from all directions and I got so very, very tired of running from Him.". I know that to many readers this makes no sense. I know to most in my life (and most do not know of my decision yet) this seems like sheer lunacy, as if I don't already have enough to handle at the moment. Who am I fooling, even to ME it seems like lunacy!
But how do I say "No"? How do I tell Him "Hey, thanks for all the blessings, I really appreciate it...and that 'service' thing...uhhh...well...I really don't have time for it. Maybe we can talk about it another time."
I knew I had made the right decision when after making a phone call to learn about enrollment and upon finally turning in the application, a sense of peace filled me unlike I have had in along time. Interestingly, between the time I phoned and the time I picked up a pen to actually complete the application , He escalated things and really pounded it into me...and once it was in the mail, it was as if the seas had calmed.
As I struggled with this sense that I was being called somehow, I was ever more grateful for the incredible husband I have. He legitimized it for me, he reassured me that I was not nuts but that he too saw God working to steer me down a particular path despite our doubts. As I asked the rhetorical questions over and over again, Dominick answered them by saying "You don't have to understand why, you don't have to know how it is all going to turn out or how it might be used. Just do it, and He will eventually let you know why.". And I guess that is the truth. As long as I was able to cling to..."It doesn't make any sense and I don't want to waste the precious little time I have for no reason when I can't possibly imagine how I would ever use this training."...I was able to come up with a perfectly logical excuse not to do anything.
There is also another issue, and that is how I see myself and my fear of being laughed at. I have never seen myself as a particularly righteous person, and certainly not "religious" in the traditional sense. I am not one to memorize chapter and verse and be able to whip those verses out at a moment's notice. I see someone who takes up the call of ministry in whatever fashion as being a person who looks...well...nothing like me. They are more faithful than I, they are more virtuous than I, they are more knowledgeable than I, they have an air about them that is nothing like me at all. If I stood back and looked at myself, quite honestly I would be the very last person I would ever imagine doing serious ministry work.
I am also very concerned about my ability to handle the course work. This is not a program that leads to ordination as lay ministry is very different from being an ordained minister, however from what I understand this course of study is extremely challenging, and I doubt whether I am smart enough to pass the classes.
And so here we go again, stepping out on faith, and this time it is all about faith! I will once again be put in the position where I will learn to ignore those who laugh at me, where I will have to recognize that if this is what He wants He will provide in every way for all I need to get through it. It is my fervent hope that when it is all said and done two years down the road, I will have the answers that at this time seem so elusive. I will understand why He so adamantly said "No, not later, NOW" and I will better be able to see the answer to "Why me?".