Monday, May 25, 2009

"So they pulled their boats up on the shore..."

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke5: 8-11)

The pastor had spoken about Jesus calling Peter from a livelihood of catching fish to a life of catching people. He emphasized that the remarkable portion of the passage was not simply that Peter's impression of Jesus as a wise Rabbi caused him to cast out to sea after an already long and fruitless night spent fishing. The remarkable part wasn't even that Peter and Jesus caught so many fish. Nor was it that Peter profoundly realized ("Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!") that Jesus was someone more than a wise Rabbi. No. The crashing epicenter of this story was the probable history from which Jesus redeemed Peter instantly.

He expounded further that Peter was probably in his early twenties when this exchange between he and Jesus took place, which means he had been out of Hebrew school since he was Bar-mitzvah'd at the age of twelve. Only the few, the proud, and the ingenious were chosen to continue past Hebrew school into a selective process that would eventually yield one or two young people to be the follower of a Rabbi. Peter, who had already spent years in a worthwhile trade was not exactly the type to be a Rabbi follower. Yet right then, Jesus picked Peter out, set him apart, and called him to be his follower, telling him, "From now on you will catch people."

I listened to that sermon closely and sensed a timely message hidden for me in the pastor's words. I thought, "I want so very badly to be a catcher of people," and then I heard it all so clearly in my heart.

"Noelle, put down your net. After all, you are a catcher of people."

Isn't it funny how much influence pastors have? Later that same Sunday, I ruminated more about the sermon and remembered something another pastor once told me. "Noelle, if they stick you in some corner and expect you to write for eight hours a day, you won't be happy. That would be the worst thing for you."

No cruel person intentionally stuck me in a corner and commanded me to write for the last seven months. I have been working for a wonderful company that is a key participant in bringing God's Kingdom to earth in the darkest parts of our world. I serve under leaders who have victoriously walked through the lowest of valleys over the last year, spending their every ounce of strength fighting to keep the ministry financially stable so that our English teachers can continue living as salt and light in Asia. However, as much as I personally am passionate about evangelism and discipleship in Asia, as much as I have the skill to write fundraising documents, and as much as I love new adventures, this first adventure into the working world has revealed a great deal about who God has created me to be.

I love people. I love the Church. I love the spirit-led influence pastors have on their flocks.

On Monday, May 18, 2009, I turned in my formal letter of resignation from my position of Advancement Grant Writer. After much prayer and seeking the Lord and the wise counsel of others around me, I have decided to return to Grand Junction in order to be closer to my core spiritual community, my family, my boyfriend...and hopefully to pursuing more closely my call. This is not as much of a total change of direction as much as it is a redirection to a more specific goal. What would this adventure have been worth unless it allowed God to refine me and the call He has for me?

The Lord has graciously already opened several opportunities for meaningful work, a possible living situation, and a chance to actively serve my local church body (yay!). Please pray that the Lord would clearly open the door to my next job. Ask that I would finish well at my current job. If you live in Grand Junction, start looking for me around the beginning of July! I am energized by the new possibilities.

Leaving Fort Collins will be bittersweet in many ways. I have met some wonderful people (hopefully you know who you are) with whom I hope to continue friendships long after I have returned to Grand Junction. I am grateful that someone took a chance by hiring a young kid to write fundraising proposals asking for millions of dollars from people she may never meet. I hope to continue maturing the skills I have in grant writing so that more of the world's money can be transferred into the Kingdom while taking a more active ministry role in my local community.

Fort Collins was a wonderful place to be, but my roots are not roots are on a different shoreline and in a call to be a catcher of people in a different sea.

Post Script:
I want to give a special thank you for all your prayers over this last year of major personal transitions. From health issues to trying to answer the question "what should I do after college?" you each have been there right beside me in support and prayer. Your prayers have moved heaven on my behalf on many an occasion. My health continues to improve greatly. I even find that I am able to eat grains occasionally without terrible side effects. Many of my body aches and pains have subsided and I am able to ride my bike more than a couple miles without collapsing. I can now ride upwards of 12 miles. I am hiking and walking and running. All of this is a testimony to greatly increased energy and stamina through God's healing hand. The Lord has provided for me financially. I also am continuing to grow in my walk with the Lord, which is the ultimate blessing. I am so thankful for God's goodness and your faithfulness! May He continue to bring me to your mind and heart in my times of need. May He also continue to bring you to my mind and heart in your times of need.