The Holy Spirit, it would seem, is up to something ridiculous. I’m beginning to notice a pattern: whenever I have a solid life plan in front of me, I suddenly find myself somewhere else entirely. God has a pretty good idea that I like my plans better than God’s, so I’m usually not consulted before such life changes. I merely wake up one morning and realize that I’m not in Kansas anymore- and usually I love it.
This morning I expected to wake up as a part time parish minister and a part time coffee barista, but instead I found myself as the chaplain of St. John’s College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. The reasons this surprises me are many. For example, I wrote an article last year about how ungifted I am at evangelism and suddenly I find myself working among students who haven’t even heard of Jesus. I have recently graduated from seminary, but I now find myself installed in a chapel with no congregation. I graduated last spring with plans to leave the academy behind but I’ve merely transferred to another academy. You get the point.
The more time I spend in my new environment, however, the more I feel like this was my plan all along. I love making the chapel into a space of sanctuary for staff, students, and professors; I enjoy practicing English with exchange students; I am blessed to mentor members of student council; I have even been honoured to bury a professor emeritus. That’s why I say the Holy Spirit is ridiculous; she has this uncanny ability to know what’s best for me better than I do. Imagine that!
I’m currently reading Robert Capon’s book on the parables of Jesus and he explains that Jesus sometimes acted parables out as well as explaining them (see, for example, the story of the disciples finding a coin in the fish’s mouth). Reading this, it occurs to me that God sometimes uses our own lives as parables too. For example, the very fact that I find myself in a rewarding ministry position I love- but which I would never have chosen for myself- is a regular reminder to me of God’s faithfulness.
During difficult times in ministry I have often found myself complaining in the words of Jeremiah: “I am just a boy! I don’t know what to say!” But it didn’t take long for Jeremiah to figure out that the role God was calling him to was not about Jeremiah at all. It was about something God was up to in Israel. All Jeremiah had to do was point it out. So when you too find yourself complaining like Jeremiah, I invite you to stop, look around for a minute, and ask yourself, “What is God up to here that I need to point out?” I’m looking forward to those unknown and unchosen places God will take us!