For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than you thoughts.
I recall when I was about 10 years old, my mother and I were in the kitchen. She was at the sink washing dishes and I was drying them. She asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said that I wanted to be a pastor. Her response was “Oh, Sue, you can be a youth director or work in Christian Education, but you can’t be a pastor. God only calls men to be pastors.”
Even though I had never met a woman pastor it had never dawned on me that being a pastor was solely work for men. After drying the dishes, I went into the bathroom and cried and prayed to God to help me because I had just had my dreams crushed. My Mom’s comment was enough to make me give up on the thoughts of becoming a pastor, at least for the time being. During the next eight years I searched my heart about what God wanted me to do in life before entering college. I decided that maybe God was calling me to be a teacher and serve in a foreign mission field. So I prepared to teach English and health and physical education. While in college I applied to the mission board of our church body and was clearly told no, I could not enter the mission field. So I got my teaching certification for all levels in health and physical education and secondary school English, and wound up teaching four years in public schools. I got a masters of Education and a PhD in Health Education and taught Health Education majors for twenty five years in two university settings.
Then during the last three years of teaching at the university, my husband and I helped in the startup of a mission church. It was during that time I kept hearing God call me into full time ministry again. I tried to ignore the call, but it would not go away. After praying to God incessantly, talking to my husband and my pastor about it, he and the church leaders supported me in pursuing the call. To make a long story short, I entered seminary and became a pastor at age 54. After serving two churches over a period of twenty years as a pastor I semi-retired and served as an interim pastor for another five years before fully retiring.
I tell you my story only because I had to learn to wait on God’s preparation of me and the world around us, and God’s perfect timing. God’s thoughts and ways were always higher than my thoughts and ways. God’s timing was much different than mine. Indeed when I graduated from college in 1960, it was unheard of for a woman to be a pastor in most mainline churches. God had to do some miracles in the hearts and minds of church leaders before women were accepted to serve as pastors. Then when the timing was right God paved the way for me to follow His leading. Jesus had a radical plan of redemption and direction for ministry in mind for me, and I needed to be patient until God’s way was prepared for me.
- Do you ever feel that God is not allowing you to be and do what you feel led to be and do?
- Have you ever had to wait for the opportunity to do something that you felt you were supposed to do?
- How have you experienced the thoughts of God and the ways of God to be different from your ideas about your life and your life’s work?
- How do you frame your prayers for a long-held need?
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.