After God placed this small, previously unknown desire in my heart, I spent the weekend trying not to think about it because doing so would make my life much more complicated. Sunday afternoon brought in what proved to be another awesome group of youth and their adults. While greeting the church groups, moving them in, playing foursquare, and eating dinner, I observed the adults and looked for someone who I could talk with about this new idea.
YouthWorks calls Sunday and Monday “the first 30 hours,” the time when we make our first impressions and pretty much decide how the week will go. As I watched the groups interact at their first day of service, their first meals, and a trip to the local pool Monday afternoon, I noticed that God had blessed me with some incredible youth, mainly from one church. On Monday night, before we began our time of worship and reflection, I asked the youth minister of this church, Ryan, if he would talk with me for a few minutes after the kids had gone to bed (with a fully scheduled week, this was really the only time to have a deep conversation with someone).
That night, Ryan and I sat in the hall and briefly chatted about the day. After avoiding the actual reason for this meeting for a bit, I decided it was time to get to the point and brought up what the HFN had recommended for my life. “I don’t really know what a calling looks like,” I told him, “but when I read that, something just felt right.”
Well, Ryan pretty much told me that based on what he had seen in me, there was no way I couldn’t be a youth minister. He said that I had all of the necessary skills and personality traits, and that I “ooze” youth ministry. I began to list my hesitancies (which we be discussed in great detail over the next few weeks), and he shot those down one by one.
Throughout this conversation, the obstacles dropped away and God whispered in my heart, “This is right. This is you, Mary P.” Ryan told me that since that spark was in my heart, it was never going to go away. Now that I had heard God’s calling, it would never go away, as hard as I might try to make it. And I knew that God had turned my life plans upside-down.
Ryan and I talked a bit more about logistics, the next steps for me, other reasons why I couldn’t do it, and reasons why I should. I also got a chance to hear about his life leading up to his youth ministry, which was awesome. I always love to hear people tell their stories because God builds us up through one another and every experience impacts humanity.
Our conversation was winding down when Krista and Alaina, my coworkers, came out of our room to brush their teeth and sat down with us. By the time we had finished chatting and had learned that Krista can fit her fist in her mouth, it was almost 1 and the 6:45 wake up was just around the corner. As my head hit the pillow, I was terrified. I mean, everything I had known and planned and depended on had been rocked. What lay ahead was a HUGE mystery and I wasn’t ready for what the future would bring. Yet at the same time, part of me was at peace, because God had placed this so carefully and beautifully in my heart, and I knew that He would be with me every step of the way.
I might have woken up the morning of July 27 a future teacher, but as I drifted into sleep, I knew that God desired for me to be a future youth minister, a change that is continually challenging, encouraging, and thrilling me.
Today I turn around
Stop running away from Him.
Today I listen
And run toward.