Four years ago I called together a clearness committee as part of an assignment for my discernment class at the Earlham School of Religion. What was God calling me to? What would I do with a Master of Divinity if I were to complete my studies at ESR? Was FUM where God wanted me to be? Did God want me to write? Edit? Preach? These were the queries we sat with in my living room, with Chloe, my calico cat, purring contentedly on my lap.
My committee members were a little annoyed by the clearness we came to. Our culture is such that we want answers; we want a clear plan in place. But that isn’t the experience I’ve had of God working in my life. I can make all the plans I want, but in the end God has asked me to follow him. Period. There is no sense in getting anxious about my situations, so I might as well curl up in God’s lap, purring contentedly, trusting that he knows best.
And so the clearness we came to was that I would do what God asked me to do. No concrete plans. No magic answers. Simply living out John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” I want him to know me. And I want to follow him.
Ten years ago I received my undergraduate degree in Speech Communication. “What’s next?” everyone wanted to know. “What are you doing after you graduate? What are you going to do with your degree?”
Resigning from FUM has sent me back 10 years. “What’s next?” everyone wants to know. “What are you going to do now that you’re not working at FUM? Have you considered (insert various Quaker organizations who are currently hiring)?”
The answer is the same today as it was in my living room four years ago, and the same it was 10 years ago in my cap and gown: I’m going to listen to God and follow him.
You may not like the path he takes me on; at times I probably won’t either. There will be times when I hear God wrong and times when what is asked of me will be painful or hard. But that is the beauty of the journey we are called to — the ups and downs, the missteps and the blessings help us on the journey to becoming who God created us to be.
To me that is what revitalization is all about: listening, learning, responding.
In this issue, Randy Quate (pp. 22-23) says that “Revitalization manifests itself in participation.” It requires us to act and be part of the work of the Church.
Sammy Akifuma (pp. 27-28) challenges us to ask ourselves, “What have I done for the Lord, in appreciation of all that he has given me on this earth?”
And Christina Repoley (pp. 24-25), a young adult Friend who has responded to the yearning for revitalization in her heart, can tell you just what it feels like to say “yes” to God: “I have never felt so clearly led in any endeavor I have been a part of.” What a blessing!
It is my prayer, as I wrap up my time at the FUM-Richmond office, that you would come to know the shepherd, hear his voice and follow.