I feel like I almost had an ontological change today! Perhaps not as dramatic as a pupa becoming a butterfly but a change to(ward) a new Identity. An identity that I find profoundly freeing. Let me un-dramatize things a bit. Today, the Session of First Presbyterian Church heard my vision/call and voted unanimously (I am told) to recommend to be ordained as a Pastor under ECO. I still need to go through a long process with ECO to be ordained, but this vote of confidence gets the process started. I have a long road towards becoming ordained. I do not want to count the chicken before the eggs hatch. However, I want to take this special moment in my life and stake stock of the adventure that the good Lord has been taking me on.
3 years ago, in the Fall of 2014, after working for 10 years in Software development, mostly project management, I quit my job and went full time to the seminary following my call into a life of ministry of loving God and neighbor. It was a step out of safety into a new adventure. I did not know how the adventure was doing to turn out. By the grace of God, I graduated with a M.Div. magna cum laude, but the journey was not quite complete then. I still was not sure what kind of twists and turns the adventure is going to take.
An important step in the adventure is the return back to the full time work life. After spending months in prayerful discernment, I finally landed at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) as a Church Planting Pioneer. Thanks be to God!
Today is the best day of my life because, today, I was shepherded into the first steps of the final leg of the journey – to be ordained a reverend! It happened at the Session of the Pastors and Ruling Elders of meeting at FPC. The session spent a few minutes hearing my call to ministry and then voted to place me “under care” in order to be ordained through ECO.
Question: Why does this event make today the best day of my life yet?
To appreciate why the beginning of the journey to ordination is the best days of my life one has to first understand the problem of my life… the problem of my life is that on a given day when I wake up in the morning I think I will to become a writer… when I am sipping coffee at Starbucks, feeling the heart tug of some vague tune of Pink Floyd coming over the speakers, I think I could try my hand at music… (in fact I bought a key board that I haven’t touched in months!) then when I see Netflix on my wind down to go to bed, taking notes on what was great on a given scene, or, what went wrong, I think perhaps I should try my hand at the movie business, really!
This vacillation is the typical millennial problem of not committing to anything while being intrigued by too many fascinations. A typical millennial life with too many interests is more like a broom that just cleans up after people who have cut their teeth doing something well. A spear that does not come down to a point has no target to hit. The problem with being swayed by the vagaries of my momentary enchantments is not that my interests are too widely spread out, but rather I do not quite have a “why” around which to galvanize my resolute pursuits.
Over the past few months, as I have been praying, meditating, talking with folks about ordination the phrase that God formulated in me, spiritually speaking is, to be ordained is to rest in the love of God and invite people to experience the love of Christ. This is the “why” that I have been looking for. This is the iron that will sharpen my spear. This is the anchor that will prevent me from being buffeted by the relentless waves of my evanescent fascinations. This is what Keirkegaard talks about when he says, “purity of heart is to will one thing.” Thus I am freed from the tyranny of too many traumatizing options to choose from.
This apprehension of the inner “why” will fuel my activities, whether it be writing about the love of God or listening to hurt-angry people or preaching Christ. There is a deep freedom in knowing the “why” towards which my activities need to be directed as against being cursed with the tyranny of choice, having to choose from a plethora of options that entices my fancy.
Today is the best day of my life yet because I am beginning to see the new identity crack open from the cocoon. A meandering larva becomes a pupa stuck in a cocoon, dormant. Then only when it ontologically changes to a butterfly that it comes fully to itself, knowing the “why” of its being – to spread its wings out and fly! My time in the world of software was one of meandering through many different interesting terrains… my time at the seminary was like the pupa that was incubating by without much movement, at times frustrating. Now the cocoon has begun cracking up and I am slowly emerging, out spreading out my wings and realizing that the whole point of my life – everything that has happened, everything I have endured, everything that has enchanted me had one end – is to rest in the love of Christ and invite people into experiencing how much Christ loves them! This is what freedom in Christ looks like for me in this phase of my life.