It’s been a week of contemplating what trusting God means by putting that trust into action.
Prior to going on the Men’s Ministry Weekend at Lee Abbey the previous weekend (see State of Love and Trust) I had applied for a church-based job. From the advert the job looked to be a perfect fit to my skills and experience but would make getting my children to school and nursery a logistical nightmare. Having seen the advert late I didn’t have time to think about much; I had to apply for it and trust that God would bring about the right result.
The day before the weekend at Lee Abbey I got a call at work. I had an interview.
It may be a vocation but being an ordained priest is also a job. That’s how I suspect that most employers, certainly secular ones, would think about it.
I have kept my exploration of ordination quiet at work. Being on an annual contract I need to keep the confidence of my employer in order to have that contract renewed. Having an employee looking elsewhere can make an employer nervous and, potentially, look for another person to fill that role when the existing contract comes to an end.
Being outside of the constraints of time God has made His decision as to whether I will be ordained or not. The exploration of ordination is, in part, about myself and others trying to discern what God’s decision is. It is also a decision for me to make personally. Even if God is calling me to be ordained, and even if others discern and decide that, I still have to make the decision to go for it, to follow God.
It’s a whole lot of uncertainty.
Trying to explain this ordination-thing to an employer in a way that will retain their confidence enough to keep employing me is something I don’t know how to do. For now it needs to be kept low-key, under-wraps if not entirely secret. It’s also the reason why, for now, this blog doesn’t bear my name.
Ironically the interview was set for the worst possible day of the week for my current employer, so keeping the interview secret was out of the option. I manage to retain my employer’s confidence for reasons that will become obvious.
I went to the interview not knowing if it was the right job for me should I be offered it; I left feeling that I couldn’t but what would I do if I was offered it? Would a job offer be God calling me to the next stage of my journey, perhaps even as preparation for ordination?
That night I met with my Spiritual Director and together we chatted about God, trust, the job interview, and the potential moves for my family. It helped me come to a conclusion about trusting God, that there are numerous levels and types of trust. Sometimes we are asked by God to trust Him and take a step forward in faith; they are, perhaps, the more fundamental places on the journey He has planned for us. Other times God has already given us all the information to make the decision for ourselves, whether they be through spiritual signs or issues of worldly practicality; these are the times we are called to trust our ability to discern.
As I drove home afterwards I knew I shouldn’t take the job. I made my decision.
The next day I took a call at work. I didn’t get the job. Strange as it may sound, I felt like God was rewarding my decision by making it easy for me. I had trusted Him. I had trusted my own ability to discern what God was saying to me. God had boosted my confidence once again.
I still have plenty to work on in trusting God however.
I don’t want to be like Jonah. I don’t want to run away from God’s call. Being where God wants me to be will ultimately be the best place I can be, even if I have to go through some difficult times in the process.
I may not want to be like Jonah but I can see myself becoming like Jonah. There are some things I know that I may face on this journey which could make me want to run away, moving my family needlessly being one of the them.
It may be that, should I be preparing for theological college, the decision whether to move my family or not is one that is not fundamental to the journey God has planned for me. It could be like the job interview: God may have given me, the bishop and others all the information we need to make a decision. God may call me to trust my instincts and, if that disagrees with the opinions of others, to fight for what I feel is right. After all, isn’t that what God calls us to do everyday?