“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
So for the first semester or so of Seminary I have decided to go church shopping, or rather discerning. My mentor suggested that I do this for the entirety of seminary because I will never really have this chance again, and I think that I agree with him, however, I know also that at some point I will need to be a part of a community and not an itinerant wanderer with no home. I say all of this as a long intro to why I was looking for a church this morning.
Last night as I tried to determine which church to attend I googled UMC in Google Maps and found Trinity UMC-Durham. The name was certainly familiar and had a lot of good emotion attached to it, so I decided to try it out. I got the directions ant they were really easy, just get on main street for a while, one left hand turn and you are there. Perfect.
I got dressed and left the apartment with about 20 min to spare thinking that I would get there early and look around before worship. I got on Main St. and drove for a while looking out for the road to turn on. I entered downtown, slowed down and made sure that I saw each sign. After a while I found myself in the middle of this neighborhood in East Durham and the street was no where to be found. Frustrated, I pulled out my GPS and tried to type in the church. At this point I had only 10 minutes before church began and I certainly did not want to be late. THe GPS couldn’t find it because I did not have the address. With my excellent memory and navigation skills I had neglected to write down the address or the directions before I left.
I turned the car around and made a random turn about where I thought the church should be and looked up trying to get my bearings. Just barely visible over the buildings of downtown Durham was a steeple with a cross. I instantly recognized the cross from the church’s website and continued down the road using the steeple as my point of reference. As I pulled into the parking lot I realized how common of a mistake that is for us in our Christian lives.
So often we look at the tasks God has given to us and use our God-given abilities and intelligence to figure out how to get the job accomplished, and yet in our eagerness to serve we forget to keep checking in with God for the directions. Instead of giving God all of our support we push on with our lives and wonder, in the end, how we ended up so lost and frustrated when we were doing what God wanted us to do.
I hope that seminary is not like that for me. I know that God has called me here and given me this time to prepare my mind and my heart to serve God’s Church, however, I know that the temptation will be there to lean on my own intelligence as I memorize theologians and Old Testament concepts. I pray that each time I look up and see the massive Gothic tower of Duke Chapel peering over the tree tops on my way into school that I will be reminded of the proverb and lean on God rather than my own understanding.
What is it for you today? Which area of your life do you most take pride in? How much more successful and fulfilled would that part be if it was given over to the One who empowers us to do what we are called to do?