Now, I find myself on the other side of the equation. Seventeen years ago I attended what was called CACTM (Church's Advisory Council for Training for Ministry). It felt like your life in their hands! I had been journeying through my sense of calling with my chaplain in university and other Christian friends, but now I was going to have my calling tested. It was nerve wracking! What would I say to convince them that my calling was genuine? What would I do if they said no, or even wait? As I prepare to attend what is now called, the Bishops' Selection Conference, I have been praying for wisdom and for those who will be testing their sense of call. I believe it is an important part of being church. We don't just act on our own sense about things but we believe that God works in and through his people.
If I was nervous as a candidate, I am no less so as a selector! In the past, my life was in their hands but now their lives are in my hands! But then on reflection, I believe in a God who is sufficient. Sufficient to lead me, sufficient to guide the candidates for ministry, sufficient to make clear the way ahead.
One of my favourite psalms is Psalm 139. In it the psalmist reflects on God and their relationship. God is always there! He is never absent! If I were to be able to speak to each of the candidates now, to help them, I would direct them to these word. I hope they help you as you journey through your daily decisions great and small.
Psalm 139For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. 1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.