I don't think I ever said "I will never be a pastor" out loud, but I'm sure I thought it. I probably even said words that implied "never."
After at least three years of resisting the call to take the United Methodist Church's License to Preach course that Jeff did, I decided to start the process this summer. Jeff, my preaching mentor (Mike Settles), and others in the north district of our conference have been encouraging me take the step for a couple of years now. I felt it was a pretty BOLD step for me to take because I wasn't exactly sure what I would do with the license. After all I didn't plan to be a pastor at a church. I trusted that I'd learn a lot in the courses, meet interesting & inspiring people, and allow God to guide me to what I'd eventually do during the process.
Now, a month after I shared this decision with our conference superintendent, I find myself unexpectedly a pastor a Tyner UMC. I also find myself remarkably calm about it. I've learned to trust God's plans more than my own--to surrender to God rather than resign myself to circumstances.
The verse above is more powerful for me when I read it in context; it seems a little too simplistic and glib by itself. Before verse 11 God says "after 70 years of exile in Babylon are up I will fulfill my promise to you." We don't always know what God's plans are; often we have to take the first step without knowing exactly where we'll land--and we don't know how long we'll wait before we understand the plan.
After verse 11, God says: "When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me" (vv. 12-13 CEB). For me, as I call on God and search for Him--not necessarily the plans He has for me, but Him--the plans become more clear.