This week I am in Louisville, Ky., for the National Religious Vocation Conference which is the professional organization for North American vocation directors. This is always an energizing time and a great opportunity to network and share vocation experiences. Our keynote speaker on Friday was the renowned Scripture scholar, Fr. Don Senior. His focus was on St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Paul’s journey was marked by extremes, beginning with anti-Christian activities as the early church struggled to carry on Jesus’ ministry and teaching. He was a violent man – dragging Christians out of their homes, beating those he caught and even cheering as Stephen was stoned to death. When he was knocked off his horse and blinded, however, he was cared for by Christians. This led to his dramatic conversion experience.
Ultimately, Paul became the most energized, intense and well-traveled Christian missionary in our early history. His is a powerful story and he left behind great epistles addressing the growth of the early Christian communities.
Your discernment does involve a major transition, even if it’s not as dramatic as Paul’s. It may mean leaving behind a comfortable, predictable life in order to embrace a new way of living. It may mean leaving a secure, independent life – where you make all the decisions – to embrace a life of shared decisions for the good of your new community – which is filled with women you barely know. It may mean leaving a high-paying job to embrace a ministry focused on Jesus rather than a paycheck.
The main point to remember is that your stability is your love of seeking God and knowing God’s way is what you desire. Paul was led to a rich transformation in which he embraced the power of God in preaching the message of Jesus Christ. His experience led him to rely on the support of many Christians to build communities across Turkey, Greece and Asia Minor. Your seeking God can be just as powerful – embracing the message of Jesus Christ through a religious vocation.