life … the journey … the adventure …

It is really interesting how things happen in life…

Although I had always gone to church, and from earliest memories, professed a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, in June of 2000, I had a unique experience during which I felt God’s Presence with me in a powerful way…  Over the years, my faith had changed from “relationship” to “religion”, where I was going through the motions at church, but not growing in my relationship with God… and on this particular day in June 2000, I felt God’s Presence, inviting me to return to a growing relationship with him… indeed, I felt as though I was being physically drawn to God!

I knew that I could refuse this invitation… but I chose not to…

It was an experience that totally changed my life and the way I was living.

No, I didn’t suddenly become what some might think of as a freaky, weird Christian who ran around telling people they were going to hell if they didn’t believe in Jesus, or asking people if they knew where they’d go when they died… I didn’t suddenly wake up one morning with the supernatural ability to speak in other languages (although, I don’t think I’d mind waking up one morning, suddenly and unexplainably, apart from God that is, being able to speak fluent Spanish)… I didn’t suddenly have great knowledge and wisdom about God and faith and all things religious…

What I did have was an assurance that God loved me… right then and there, no matter what my life was like then…

What I did have was an assurance that God wanted to be in relationship with me, and wasn’t waiting until I was a perfect person (as if I could ever be that on my own) to invite me back into that relationship…

What I did have was an assurance that if I allowed it, God’s Holy Spirit would work in my life and in my heart to change me into the person that God wanted me to be…

And as time went on, and my relationship began to grow again, I had the dawning realization that God had a specific purpose for my life… that God was calling me to become an ordained Christian minister…

God’s revealing of his Presence with me that day in June 2000 set me on a grand adventure and journey… one which I am still on, as I seek to know and follow his will over mine… and as all adventures and journeys with God go, there are ups and downs… times of confusion and uncertainty… times when all I can see are the next couple of steps in that journey… times of challenge… times when decisions must be made… times of surrender of my will to God’s will over and over and over and over again… times of wondering if I will ever “get there”, and then realizing that the journey never ends, that there will always be new places to go and new things to do and be for God, that the only time I will “get there” is when I see my God face to face…

But there is one certainty I have as I continue on my journey and adventure… that no matter what happens, no matter whether I have wonderful, exultant “mountain top” experiences along my way, or whether I feel I am traveling through “the valley of the shadow of death” at times in this journey (or anything in-between those places)… I have the certainty that God is with me and God still calls me and still guides me…

A few months ago, I decided for a variety of reasons, to no longer seek ordination as a pastor with the denomination that I had grown up in, the United Methodist Church…

Instead, I decided to seek ordination through the Free Methodist Church…

I chose the Free Methodist Church because…

1.  Its structure is similar to what I am used to and agree with… Bishops and Superintendents to provide oversight and accountability, and a connectional system, so that no church or minister is out there doing their own thing with no support or guidance; and an appointive system, as opposed to having to be “called” by a church, so that as a pastor, one’s first allegiance is to follow God’s will, instead of following the congregation’s will (it’s great when those two are in agreement, but occasionally, that is not the case)…

2.  Its theology is Wesleyan…

3.  My life, at a very young age was impacted in an important way by a Free Methodist Church pastor, and so I felt a connection to the Free Methodist Church in a way I did not feel toward any other denomination…

To that end, the other evening, at the meeting of our Annual Conference (the South Atlantic Annual Conference), I was accepted as a Conference Ministerial Candidate, and appointed to the Orlando Fellowship (an incarnational, missional ministry team) where I will continue to express my call of pastoral care, currently through being a hospice chaplain.

As a Conference Ministerial Candidate, my journey towards ordination continues, as I enter the final phase of being mentored… in preparation to be fully ordained as an Elder in the Free Methodist Church within the next three years… but even that, ordination… will not be the “journeys end” in answering God’s call on my life…

God will always have an adventure for me, as my journey with him continues…

God will continue to work in my heart and life to form me and perfect me, as God is the “author and perfector of my faith”…

Yes… it is interesting how things happen in our lives… and what could be better than answering the call of the One who loves me more than any human could… answering the call of the One who died, that I might be able to have peace with God… answering the call of the One who is able to take the broken pieces of my life, and create a tapestry of love that through me, reaches out and touches the world… that others may know how much God loves them…

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4 thoughts on “life … the journey … the adventure …”

  1. Each of us is on a journey, Jonelle, and it’s wonderful to know you’ve finally made the connection with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves in a way that you feel such assurance as to the direction that journey will take at this point in your life. It was so nice to see that assurance in your face and everything about you yesterday. I can tell your heart is fully in the direction you are taking with you life, and I know you will touch the lives of many in wonderful and positive ways. Good for you!!! 🙂

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