My brothers and sisters,
As Pastor Mark leads our Lenten season journey into the wilderness, following Jesus’ into the dry spell of our lives, I find myself thinking and re-thinking my own times of wilderness. In particular, there is one time in my life when I felt so alone, so forlorn and lost — “wilderness” doesn’t even begin to describe it. But although, there have been many (and will be yet, I know…), it is this particular sojourn into the wilderness of my own life that keeps coming to me. This season, God seems to be saying to me, “Melinda, remember this time? What do you think of it … now?”
It was a time in my life, before I discerned a call to ordained ministry, that I was struggling to know what I was to do with my life. I had an undergraduate degree in English and Theatre, and a Master’s in Theatre, too. I had been working for a few years in opera production, but it wasn’t what I had set out to do. It wasn’t what I had dreamed about at all — not the opera, nor the life that my work in opera demanded of me. I was traveling so much that I had little community (except on the road); I was missing weddings and showers and parties, and other milestones in the lives of the people I cared about … all to follow a dream that I felt wasn’t even mine. I was lonely and forlorn, and I didn’t know what to do. I struggled over the reality that by all accounts — I had a great life, so why couldn’t I just love what I had, and let go of what my dreams would have for me? What was stopping me from simply appreciating the world I had fallen into, and stop yearning for the world for which I had been working and studying?
And now, reflecting upon this time in the wilderness, I see that it was the very beginning of my opening up to hear God’s call upon my heart. It was this dry spell of feeling lost in the world, adrift in my professional and personal life that started to spark some really tough questions. This dry spell that eventually led me back into the churches that I would visit, and into the place where my heart was open enough … my ears were open enough … to hear Jesus speak to me and lead my life into a very, very different direction.
It wasn’t an easy time. I would never, ever wish that “time out” on anyone. But, that time did afford me (or force me, maybe?) to ask some tough questions and begin to seek real answers of my life, my journey, and my God. I can’t say that I’m grateful for the wilderness … not yet. But, I can share it with you and I can say that without it, I wouldn’t be your pastor. For that, I am deeply, forever grateful.
Your sister in Christ,