Not Yet Turned Into Now

by | Mar 6, 2018 | Faith, Life

A couple of years ago I wrote about my personal journey from mourning to healing. I shared about resigning my pastoral role as a youth minister in Oklahoma and moving into an administrative position with Nazarene Youth International. This change came at a time in my life when I needed to step away from parish ministry and allow some space for healing and rest. Randy and I began attending Church of the Resurrection where he had recently accepted a position in their Communications department. We quickly found a church home in Resurrection, and I experienced a beautiful season of restoration and rejuvenation.

But it didn’t take too long before I started feeling “the itch” again. While I was greatly enjoying my work with NYI and my volunteer work with Church of the Resurrection, there was still a piece of my calling that was missing and could only be fulfilled by pastoral ministry.

It all started on Easter Sunday 2016. As my colleagues in ministry know, Easter Sunday is like the Superbowl for pastors. It is our biggest day of the year. We know that on Easter many people will enter our church buildings for the first time as visitors or guests. It is our opportunity to invite these people to come back again.

But for the first time in several years, I had no role to play on Easter Sunday. I was not greeting people at the front door or in the foyer. I was not giving announcements. I was not leading the call to worship or offering a prayer. I was just one of hundreds of other congregants sitting in the pews of my church.

A few months earlier, this is exactly what I had wanted. To have no obligations, to have no responsibilities, to focus on my own spiritual life. Yet now, this lack of responsibilities left me feeling purposeless and useless. What is a pastor to do when there is no role for her on Easter Sunday? What was meant to be a day of joy of celebration turned into one of somber reflection and painful emptiness.

I had been through 8 months of healing. During those 8 months, I had enjoyed simply sitting back in the pew. I savored this time of being ministered to, not just ministering to others. I needed this time and space, one where I was not involved in pastoral ministry and where I could process and reflect--even grieve.

Now, God was calling me back. To what, I still wasn’t sure.

Over the next couple of years, I would hear the phrase “not yet” repeated many times. I felt ready to move on to the next chapter of my ministry and the next season of my life, but God’s continual answer to me was “not yet.”

This past Advent season, as 2017 came to a close, I deeply connected to the themes of waiting and longing as I expectedly anticipated what God was planning for my own life. On the last day of Advent, I wrote the following words in my journal:

What does God have in store for me next? What “great adventure” is God inviting me on? When will the time of waiting and “not yet” be over? How long, oh Lord?

But as Advent reminds us, God does not abandon his children forever. In the same way, it was not too long before my “not yet” was turned into “now.”

Over the last few months, I have been in a series of conversations that has ultimately led me to accept the role of Young Adults Program Director at Church of the Resurrection. During Advent, when I wrote those words of longing in my journal, I could not have predicted what God was going to call me to now. But I am so excited to begin this new and great adventure!

I feel so honored to be invited into this role. Even when I doubted myself along the way, others around me spoke assurance and confidence into my life. I feel especially privileged to be able to minister in the church that Randy and I have called home for the past couple of years. I firmly believe in the vision and mission of Church of the Resurrection, as we seek “to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.”

While I am overjoyed about beginning this next chapter in my life, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few words about leaving my role with Nazarene Youth International. During the last 2.5 years while I have worked at NYI, I have regained my hope in the universal Church as God’s channel to bring Christ’s Kingdom come on earth as it in heaven. My worldview has been expanded to embrace this big and beautiful global Church of which I am a part. I have grown a lot and I have learned a lot (although I never did get the hang of Spanish like I had planned!). I did things I never thought I would be able to do. I met so many amazing people from around the world. Most importantly, I had the unique opportunity to work alongside a small team of people that I consider to be some of my closest friends. My time at NYI has been a rare gift that I have deeply enjoyed.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along my continuing journey. I ask for your prayers as I step into this new role. Stay tuned as I join God on this next great adventure!

Shannon E. Greene

I have a heart for teens and young adults, a hope to renew the Church as the Bride of Christ, and a longing to see God's Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I write about youth ministry, Wesleyan theology, women in ministry, and the intersection of life and faith.

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