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A new (old) direction

Yesterday, I got the official word on my “new” direction.

It’s actually quite an old direction.

Here’s the story.

When I was 17, I had the courage to ask God why the heck he had allowed me to endure what I endured. I remember that moment as if it had happened yesterday. I sat on my bed as I heard God gently speak “… the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4). In that moment I felt called to be an Anglican priest.

I told God flat out no. I was going to be a doctor. At the time I was working at the university with my path paved to enter medical school if I could just keep up the grades in university. I loved science and loved studying. Clearly God was wrong.

I was taking online highschool credits at the time and while I finished with a 95% average, I very suddenly became disinterested in science. I’ve often felt that God took that from me. And I’ve often tried to take it back, to prove that I am a scientist at heart.

I spent months in prayer about this. It was a rocky time in my life. I knew if I told my parents this it wouldn’t go that well. But it was hard to hide. So I did. And it went worse than I had anticipated. Bitter words – “you are following the devil” – have haunted me to this day.

I remember praying and crying out to God in confusion. I didn’t understand how God could call me in a way that felt so real and then have the people who are supposed to love me the most be strongly against it. I remember during my prayer times being faced with the question of whether I would follow God if he called me to something and it meant losing my family. Three or so months later I said yes. I didn’t really know what the heck that meant!!!!! Remember – this was about 4 years prior to me leaving home.

I started going to a Bible study that very soon became central to my life. I had the courage to tell the pastor that I felt called to ministry – to which he responded “Cool” and suggested that I get my feet wet. In second year university I was somehow able to take graduate level introduction to the Old Testament courses despite my GPA not being the greatest. I loved those courses.

And then I suddenly left home. Everything changed. I was finishing up 3rd year university, but now I had to support myself. So much crazy stuff happened that year.

A couple of years ago, I applied to Wycliffe and they accepted me. Again, I loved those courses. But then I hit difficult times with the trial and my grandmother’s passing.

Almost a year ago, I decided to move forward with or without my family. Part of this was a decision to study psychology. I worked so hard in those courses and I loved the material. But it wasn’t me.

In December, I found out my stepfather was beginning his sentence. On the subway to an event, I realized that I had lost my family, but I was still following God. I was reminded of that conversation with God almost 12 years ago and heard God say to me that I am his good and faithful servant with whom he is well pleased. Tears came streaming down my face during that subway ride for those were words that I longed to hear from God. Longed isn’t a strong enough word. I’m not sure I can find words to describe that ache in my soul of wanting God’s love and acknowledgement so desparately.

And then I felt God say – “you are ready now”.

Ready? I knew exactly what that meant. But change direction, again? I wasn’t sure if I was indeed ready. I also knew this meant that I would need to talk to others. A call to ministry is one that needs to be discerned in community and is not something I can simply decide to do. It took me a little bit to get up the courage to mention it to a few people. For a little while, I kept it to myself.

But then, in the entire University of Toronto, I wasn’t able to get into any courses but theology related ones and a research methods course. If this was God’s way of pointing me in a direction, he certainly had a sense of humour.

I had a frank conversation with my counsellor who at the end of our meeting said “Sounds like the call of God on your life”. One of the people who knows me best and would tell me honestly had given me the go ahead. I knew I couldn’t keep silent. I approached people to be references or to pray and was shocked by the unanimity of response.

Yesterday, I had an interview with the principal. It was shockingly casual. I guess I’m not really a stranger to wycliffe, having had my foot in and out for 10 years. But I guess I pictured something far more intense and invasive. The conversation went on as if I’d already been accepted. When asked if I had any questions, I did ask when I would find out – “very, very soon. You’ll find out very soon.”

20 minutes later I got the call and an offer of admission.

I’ve been accepted to do a Masters of Divinity combined Masters of Theological Studies in Urban Development.

A new – yet also very old – direction.

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  1. Barbara Sanjivi
    May 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    God’s call on your life is not something to be ignored. You are following God’s leading and I thank God that you are listening to His voice. You have been preparing for many years. You may not have totally understood that previously but now you are ready. This is just the beginning of a long road. I know God as chosen you with a purpose. I am thinking about the many people that you are going to minster to. They will be fortunate. Elizabeth, I understand God’s calling. Once He a chosen you, He ever lets go. You have so much experience at your young age. This is how God is going to use all that you have been through. God bless you.

    Barb

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