I began this week attending the ordination of a colleague. Throughout the service I was touched and inspired by the prayers, music, and joy. I can’t recall many of the songs or readings from the service, but I do remember one phrase: “If you’re ready.”
“If you’re ready,” the pastor asked. My friend stood up and slowly walked to the front. Did I notice a hint of apprehension mixed with her joy? Perhaps. Or, maybe, it’s the memory of my own ordination. Nine years ago this past month I was the one standing in front of a congregation for the rite of ordination.
I chuckled to myself at his words, because if I’m honest, if I heard, “If you’re ready,” at my ordination, I may have said, “No, I’m not ready.”
Some days I still don’t feel ready to answer this call. I’m overwhelmed by the needs of the world and God’s people; I’m flustered in my attempts to share grace, peace, and love with others. I’m frustrated by the pettiness of people living together in the Body of Christ. I’m riddled with doubt and insecurity about my gifts.
Isn’t this how many of us feel about our calls? We’re not ready, we doubt, we question, we occupy ourselves with insignificant matters avoiding the truth in our hearts. And then someone says, “If you’re ready, come forward.”
My friend didn’t have a chance to turn away or say she wasn’t ready. She came forward and proceeded with the service — the part of the service that included the laying on of hands.
This is what I remember most intimately from my ordination – the hands and presence of so many who believed in me, whether I was ready or not.
Today at nine years of ordained ministry my days look vastly different than I imagined. I’m no longer called to a specific congregation, but rather to a ministry of writing and mothering. Each time I come to the page to write, I don’t feel ready. Many days when I wake to the voices of my children, I don’t feel ready. The days I supply at neighboring congregations, I don’t feel ready.
Not being ready, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t feel called. Rather it means that I lean solely on God’s grace and love in my life to do the work each day.
I’m still not ready most days to follow God’s call, but I know I’m not alone. I have the community that was present at my ordination who continues to support me, I have friends, family, and the communion of saints, I have church communities who welcome me to proclaim the Gospel, and most importantly, I have a God who will continue to draw more and more out of me for the kingdom.
I show up day after day trusting that God will do more with me than I can ever imagine or dare to believe. This is the beauty of God’s call in our lives. We are all called as God’s beloved children, and in that truth, we can rest knowing that God is with us.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.