Lest I veer towards an overly rosy view of my growth in Christ over the past couple years of journeying towards healthcare in an inner city context, I have visual reminders of my wilderness experience, including this picture.
It was early April 2012, and I was down to five part-time jobs—two counseling-related and three administrative jobs. I was approaching a difficult decision about moving out of my Center City neighborhood and moving home because of financial pressures. After listing all the responsibilities I was juggling, I drew a picture of how I was feeling and added descriptive words or phrases that came to mind.
Like musical motives that provide coherence to a composition through their frequent returns and variations, these descriptions summarize much of my spiritual-existential experience through November 2012. As I tell the story now in June 2013, I can see how a very minor theme (“only hope: steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases”) written near the center of the page, at the bottom, has taken over the whole symphony, even though none of my uncertain pieces of life have settled. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Back to the story: a few days later, I prayerfully listed current and desired “life targets”—a way of organizing where I sensed God calling me to grow personally, while I continued to wait for the pieces of my callings to come together. One interesting little piece that found its way into my “primary” life target circle was “on call”—this desire that I would be ready and willing to go wherever, whenever God calls me with no turning back (and that I would be actively practicing this now in my current relationships and job responsibilities).
Holistic healthcare. Underserved people. Perplexity. Daily mercies. God’s steadfast love in Christ. On call. These themes intertwined to form cacophonous racket, haunting melodies, and stirring passages at various times and in different ways. Added to this mix were metaphors from a poem I wrote, roughly based on Jesus’ pointed observations that unless a seed falls down to the ground and dies, it remains alone:
“… unwasted pain
by faith embraced
now blooms to delight God and man.
buried deep within God’s hesed
grow by faith
hope and hurt
wait for Love’s wise answers.
for Love Himself. …”
Perhaps my dreams, my unfulfilled visions for service and ministry were seeds that needed to be planted in God’s hesed, his steadfast love for us in Christ. Maybe my calling was not only to spend my strength in love but also to wait for Love himself, not just for his blessings.