Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
In 1990 I made arrangements to go half time at the university where I taught for 18 years, in order to enter seminary. At the time I was an Episcopalian and had sought to enter the track of study to become a parish priest. I had full support of my parish priest and the Vestry where my husband and I were members, and had felt God’s calling me into the priesthood. In July the Bishop decided that I could go to seminary, but not to enter the track for priesthood. I had spent two years in discernment prior to this and so the Bishop’s decision was a devastating blow, making me not sure why I was going to seminary, or what God was calling me to do.
There were Lutheran students in almost all of my classes that first year. We had long talks about theology after class each day. I wanted to know more about what they believed about the Word of God, Holy Communion, and other aspects about their faith in God. Finally one of the students gave me a box filled with Luther’s writings, which I read in the evenings after I had completed the readings for my classes the next day.
One night I was reading Luther’s The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and as I read I was orally responding to what I read, “Yes, I believe that”. A next door neighbor, in the suite where I stayed while at the seminary each week, knocked on my door and came in to ask me who I was talking to at 11:00 in the evening. I said, “No one, why,” and she told me I was talking rather loud. I reflected on my response to what I had been reading and thought perhaps that I needed to learn more about the Lutheran Church. By Easter of the following year my husband and I visited a Lutheran Church in my home town.
To make a long story short, we went through instruction and joined that church. The pastor and Council supported my application for seeking to be accepted as a pastoral candidate. I was approved by the synod’s candidacy committee to enter the program for study to prepare to be a pastor and went back to seminary in September, in the Lutheran Master of Divinity program at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. I was ordained in August, 1994, and spent 20 years serving two congregations, and retiring in 2014. I couldn’t quit cold turkey, so I served as an interim pastor for four congregations until 2018.
So why did I tell you this story? I tell it because it was only after I prayed this prayer fervently and persistently from Psalm 25, that I had the strength to continue to seek God’s will for my life after the church refused to acknowledge that God was calling me into service as a priest. I learned that God has a way of teaching us to follow where he leads and in that following he will make known where he needs us to serve.
- Are you praying consistently that God will teach you His path for your life?
- Are you getting weary and wonder if God will ever reveal His path to you? Hang in there.
- Will you not give up on letting God reveal his path? Will you wait all the day long? God will not give up on you.
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.