The best thing about life in the Spirit is that it is not scripted. Consider the passage for this morning from Acts 16: Paul and Timothy are STOKED, they are ready to engage Asia, to tell the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them and what? The Spirit prohibits them? What? That doesn’t make a lick of sense. Surely those places needed to hear the Gospel. Surely those places needed to see Christian lifestyle.
What did it mean to be blocked?
I wonder how many blocks I was given walking down on my call to ministry. Since Melissa (another #explo2011 official blogger) gave lots of personal testimony in her blog post, here’s some of my blocks I’ve experienced:
- As a Senior in high school, I remember being frustrated that I wasn’t able to go to a concert because I had told my youth minister I would help lead a middle school bible study. But I did and after a great study I got another inkling that I was supposed to be there.
- When I was applying to college, I applied to five colleges to study psychology and exactly one to study ministry (to appease my relentless youth minister). I got negligible scholarships for the five…was sweating figuring it out. I didn’t know what to do. Then in the mail came a full ride to study ministry at that one college. I guess that’s where I was supposed to go.
- During college, I was engaged to a woman and we planned to attend a particular seminary together. We eventually ended our relationship. I opted to attend a different seminary. I got the best life-changing theological education and met my future spouse. Exactly where I was supposed to go.
- As a clergyperson, I often feel blocked, like the right words aren’t emerging from my lips and that I just can’t connect with the people at times. Then someone stops me and tells me how much they were inspired. It never fails to amaze me because I just can’t see it.
My hope and prayer for these young adults is that they not only acknowledge uncertainty (like last night’s blog post) but allow it. If I didn’t accept these blocks, allow them rather than fight to get around them, then I wouldn’t have been on the path I’m on for sure, and you wouldn’t be reading this quaint little blog.
In Process Theology, they have a great understanding of God’s omniscience. It’s not that God wills each thing to happen (a concept called Determinism that Adam Hamilton destroyed last night at worship) but that God knows all possibilities. God knew every possible choice I would make, and was nudging me (or offering me a “divine lure”) towards a better path.
I was led down a better path. I allowed the blocks to take place. I didn’t assign them meaning, and I don’t feel like I had to experience them to be where I am today. But looking back I see how God was nudging me on this path, and I hope the same for our young adults.
The blocks will be there, some you will have to overcome, some you will go around, and some force you on a side trail that you didn’t expect to be on. And I for one will pray for discernment for you as you find that path that God would have you be on. And only God knows which one that is, and I hope the Church continues to help facilitate that for you.
As Tolkein reminds us: not all who wander are lost. They’ve just found some blocks and are looking for the right path again. May it be with you.(Picture: HackingChristianity photo of worship 11-11-2011. That’s Cassandra from Mark Miller’s band belting out the vocals there)