As I step out into this new venture of YouBelong, I felt there was only one blog post that I could share with you first. The reason I am here.
I cannot honestly remember the moment it happened. I wish I could tell you that there was a massive ‘aha’ or ‘light bulb’ moment but there wasn’t as far as I remember. Instead, there have been lots of little signs and stepping stones along the way. The most recent of these came up shortly after setting up my twitter page and getting an amazing response from so many people both within the chronic illness and disabled communities and from church leaders who are aware of the gap there is in their churches but who do not know where to start to make the church more accessible. This has been of great encouragement so if you have been a part of that, thank you so very much!
Prior to that, I remember preparing to leave university and being told by my course director that just because I struggle physically, it doesn’t mean I cannot be a minister (when I started my degree, I was working as an active youth leader which involved a lot of physical activity and long hours which were just not possible anymore).
Throughout the course, we had discussed some disability theologies in class and I had done my own research out of curiosity as I couldn’t understand why God had allowed me to suffer and miss out on all I had dreamed of doing after I graduated as a youth minster. This became an ongoing area of personal study and to this day, I grab hold of every resource, whether a book, podcast, video or sermon notes, and try to get my head around different points of view and how that fits in with my understanding of my experiences, God and the Bible.
The dots all joined up and I realised that I could combine my experiences, gifts, love of people, personal study and training to create a worthy ministry for me to carry off with God’s help and guidance. I have been doing so apprehensively for the last 2 months but have been nervous to take the next step for fear of rejection, causing offence or sounding like I know better than others (which I can promise you now could not be further from the truth!) I am terrified but I feel that I have been called into this. A few days ago, I might have said that I think this is what God wants me to do as I enjoy it and don’t know what else to do but after reading back through my journal from when I first got ill back in 2014, it could not be clearer…
“Well of course there is a good reason for this… 1) I get a glimpse into the lives of what others like me who are struggling with illness are going through (so) I can help, inspire and encourage them. Maybe God intends for this to become my area of ministry? Who knows at the moment (other than God!)?”
This was written before I really got ill, before I started training at Ridley Theological College, before I had even considered YouBelong. Even if we don’t know what our future will look like or how it could possibly be brighter, God knows and He cares. For years I have continued to wonder why God wouldn’t reveal His plans for me, and maybe He won’t, but looking back, I can see now that He had. I just hadn’t really listened and trusted. I am so glad I cottoned on eventually. What do you feel God calling you into? How can you take the next step to getting closer to Him to discover your purpose and what can you do to get closer to that?