The Haunting of God’s Call
Scripture states that God’s gifts and callings are irrevocable. He sets members in the body distributing gifts to each as it pleases Him. In other words: His call to salvation and service/ministry is firm. He doesn’t change His mind and pull back the offer. The planting of the call, the conferral of His gifts and offices, are true and sure.
Sometimes (OFTEN really), we women stumble at the call. We can’t find firm footing. We can’t find the courage or the path to overcoming the formidable barriers that confront us. Our image of ourselves or the image the church has presented of women or both make us quake inside and pull away in fear- a MULTITUDE of fears. Being a woman called to the vocation of ministry is painful. There is a nakedness to it. You know the stones will hurt when they are thrown. And you know they will be thrown.
And, you know you are not prepared. A women called to ministry begins the journey three steps back from the place a man stands when receiving his call. While a man’s announcement of call to ministry may be received with joy, shouts of encouragement, and automatic acceptance, the local church often does not support women in this way. Both women and men in the congregation may pronounce her call to ministry illegitimate. The pulpit often openly preaches against her visible place in the proclamation and leadership ministries. And, she is likely to find little or no mentorship or for that matter even encouragement. Stripped of emotional support and resources, the nakedness is more than uncomfortable. Every flaw, every amateurish misstep will be magnified. Every word will be critiqued- maybe even taken out of context and used against her.
Yet, the call doesn’t go away. It may hide its head under her display of skill in other areas or vocations. But, it keeps poking its head out. It keeps whispering in her ear: “You cannot forget me. I am much of who you are.” It makes her restless. It makes her uncomfortable, vaguely dissatisfied with whatever else she does or is.
In those rare liquid moments when she lets her heart breathe, she feels the way she is intended to move in her call. She lays hands on the sick, anoints with oil, dedicates infants, administers communion, declares the vision for the local church’s future: preaches the gospel. She stands with other leaders representing the Body of Christ. Within those thoughts and visions, she knows she is truly authentic. The movement and words are natural like the act of breathing, like the sensation of freedom she feels when slipping unhindered through the turquoise waters of her pool. The visions haunt her:
She cries out in pain.
Tears flow in her spirit.
God is showing her these things.
She knows Him.
She knows His Voice.
She knows His wooing.
She knows His overwhelming acceptance
and His sure love.
She knows this is how
He purposed and planned her to function.
But how can this be more than
just a dream,
an ideal too improbable to realize?
Opposition and impediments are great-
There are few in her court.
She swallows hard.
She buries herself deep inside.
She imprisons the spark of life.
“Women are not called to lead,”
chides the church voices in her head.
Even her girlfriends in the church
mostly think this is so.
She wipes away
the one tear
she allows to overflow.
She tenses her jaw.
She gets up and moves on
with her daily routine- so much to do.
If the wooing of
this call to ministry
would not arise periodically
awakening her from her dreams,
If it would not appear
as an image when she prays,
then she could go on untethered-
maybe even fully enjoy her life.
But she knows:
it won’t be silent.
Kathy A. Meisner, M. Ed., M. Div., is a writer and artist living in the Nashville, Tennessee area. The Haunting, Copyright 2018.