It won’t go away.
It’s a sense I’ve had since I was small, and it’s hovered around for years. At particular moments, it’s been almost overwhelming, but mostly it just sits somewhere in my gut. When it wants attention, it tugs.
It’s a sense that God has stuff for me to do. And that I need to say ‘yes’.
I’m not sure what that stuff is. I know sometimes; day to day or season to season I see God pointing me towards people, churches, pointing out ways I can serve. But I don’t know what the Big Plan is.
For the last few years, I’ve been one of those people who is thinking, talking, often praying, sometimes crying, about the idea of being called to ordained ministry. I want to take that possibility seriously, not lightly, not to dismiss it nor jump into it, and fortunately the Church of England has a long and very thorough process of discerning with people if this is really God’s call to them.
But whether that sense, that tug in me, turns out to be anything to do with ordained ministry or not, I’m reflecting for the moment on how grateful I am for one thing:
I’m free to say yes.
There’s nothing and no-one likely to stop me from saying yes, whatever the call of God on my life.
From my new favourite spot, a sofa in the window of a coffee shop near my tube station, I watch commuters bustling on their way to work. I’m about to join them. But I don’t feel trapped on a treadmill. This doesn’t feel permanent. I don’t need (or want) to get sucked into a cycle of work, for money, for better work, for more money, for longer work hours, for even more money.
Possibility seems to stretch out. The world seems set up for me to jump in, two-footed, without reservation or fear, to whatever God invites me into. This is purpose. This, surely, is privilege.
By happy circumstances of my birth, I live in a country where I’m able to choose to serve God openly and freely, without fear. By happy circumstances of my birth, I live in a time where women are, in theory at least, able to take up the same opportunities as men, can speak with our own voices, pursue our own goals, and shouldn’t be held back by structural barriers. Even in the Church.
I’m fortunate enough to have parents who’s strongest encouragement to me is to say yes to God, wholeheartedly and joyfully. I’m fortunate enough that money won’t be a barrier to saying yes, even if God’s calling involves having very little of it for myself.
Mary, that young, unmarried girl from Nazareth, heard a call from God through an unexpected visit from an angel and everything changed. It was dangerous for her to bear a baby out of wedlock. She knew full well she could have been rejected by everyone she loved. She said yes anyway.
One of absolute my heroes is a Colombian man called Abilio, who was a university lecturer in theology. One day he heard the call to stand with victims of brutal violence, massacres, and displacements in Colombia, knowing full well that human-rights defenders in that place are frequently the targets of assassination attempts. He said yes anyway.
I know that ‘Here I am, send me’ can be a dangerous prayer. I know that opening yourself up to the will of God means life probably won’t look like you planned it to look. But there’s nothing in my way. I am so thankful that I’m free, completely free, to say yes to anything God calls me to.
All I have to do is decide that I will.