When I decided that full time ministry was indeed a call to embrace, I began preparing my seminary applications. Having only been exposed to the United Methodist tradition, I immediately looked for a school that offered a Master’s in Youth Ministry. The associate pastor at the church that I interned with was a recent graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Coincidentally, my family was making a summer trip that included a stop in the area. I took a side trip by myself to a tiny town that looked nothing like Texas. I was intrigued.
I loved the feel of the small school. My interest to learn under veteran student ministry teachers was piqued. And even with my less that stellar cumulative PGA, I felt that I could make a case for admittance. While visiting, I met with an admissions officer and I was excited about this possibility.
Having spent the last 4 years in a theologically conservative environment, Asbury felt like a forward, yet not disruptive move. On the spectrum of traditional vs progressive, this seemed to be a safe middle ground. During the application process, I was asked to sign a statement upholding my desire to live in community free from alcohol and drugs, as well as hold tightly to traditional views on changing issues of the church. I found respite in both. I knew that in order to grow, removing stumbling blocks of argument and known challenges could only help my desire to pursue God’s call on my life. What I didn’t know at the time was that once again, rules and behavior codes would become the measuring stick for faithfulness.
With nerves in full motion, I mailed my application in the fall of 1996. And then the waiting started. Christmas came and went. Followed by the New Year’s holiday. I returned to school to start the last semester. When February 1st turned on the calendar, I knew a letter would be imminent.
On a breezy day during the first week of February, I opened the mailbox at my apartment and saw the letterhead. It was a thin letter and I knew that it contained the plans for the next step in my life. Was I leaving the security of family and friends and my church roots? Was I moving to Kentucky, where I knew no other students, with the hope of an educational background for my life? OR was I going to be looking for whatever plan ‘b’ might have been?
There on my familiar porch, I opened the letter that would set in motion my next steps. It was time for me to learn to drive on hills of ice because I was headed north. My excitement was uncontainable. My plans were coming to fruition. I was ready to fly. For the first time, I was actively dreaming about what life in vocational ministry would mean for me. This was so much bigger than any script I could have written. I finally felt like my life was in rhythm with my Creator and I was prepared to soar.
From my experience, it is smack in the middle of that moment that your plan can be detoured. Get ready, plan-it-out-girl, because sometimes the best gifts are complete surprises.