In the world of United Methodist clergy, July marks beginnings for some.
New ministerial status.
New appointive year, even if you are staying in the same appointment.
New things to think about.
As we enter into July, I invite you to remember your call.
I recently went back to the place of my call. It was a literal mountaintop experience. I was by myself when my call occurred. Since then, I have taken different people with me to the holy site. I have taken people who are close to me. They know of the holy encounter. They become a part of my story, and I theirs.
I have gone back many times.
Sometimes I know I have to go back alone.
Sometimes it is ok to take people with me.
Last December, I could not make the hike at all. I tried to go by myself. As I was preparing to go, an excruciating pain followed by subsequent tingling and pressure occurred in my abdomen and I could not breathe. I knew I could not make the hike alone. I knew I could not make the hike at all. I (gulp) knew I had to ask for help. That was an incredibly hard ask. I like to be independent. I had to ask my husband if he could help me by driving me to the site. He did so, very willingly. He knew how much my pilgrimages to this site meant to me.
I was reminded it is OK to ask for help.
In fact, sometimes I have too.
I learned later that probably the episode that kept me from hiking the mountain was the movement of a kidney stone. I had no idea that I had a kidney stone, or if what happened would ever happen again, but I knew I needed help. Since then, I have continued to return over and over again to the awareness that I need help, in a multitude of arenas, and it is more than ok to ask for help. It is life giving, life saving, and continues to build my faith and my wellness. I am grateful for help.
When I returned to the mountain recently, I was able to make the hike by myself again. This was incredibly important to me. I felt strong enough to go physically. Mentally, I was terrified. Spiritually, I knew I had to go.
At the top, I was absolutely elated. It felt to me like I climbed the highest mountain in the world, because it was my mountain ... my journey ... my fears, pain, and obstacles to overcome. It was a returning to God and my first calling. My first calling was an invitation to go and get tools for the journey.
I have been searching for what my call means today. Maybe it remains the same. Maybe it is to continue to gain tools for the journey. It is a reminder that I simply need to be faithful to God with my one next step. That is enough.
I began my first appointed ministry 20 years ago. As I mark this time, I give thanks for the multitude of tools I have and continue to gain for the journey. I pray God will use what I have explored, gleaned, and experienced for the building up of God's work in the world.
I give thanks for the multitude of people who have taught me and shaped me along the way.
This was the wisdom of the mountain from my recent trip:
Sometimes the mountain seems bigger than you.
Sometimes you seem bigger than the mountain.
Sometimes you become the mountain.
Sometimes the mountain becomes a part of you.
Sometimes there is no mountain.
Sometimes if you look at things from a different angle, it can change everything.
Sometimes when you ask for help, you are freed to be what God called you to be.
Wherever you find yourself, I pray you know you are not alone. Yes, where two or three are gathered in God's name, God is there. And ... God can meet you when you are by yourself. God can meet you when you are wondering how in the world you are going to be able to face the "mountain" that is in front of you.
God can meet you when you have conquered something you could never do on your own. God can meet you when you become strength that is not your own. God can meet you when your biggest fears, grief, pain, and obstacles live within you and no one else can see them.
Friends, remember your call.