the long journey to Ninevah
January 27, 2009 by Christine
The Book of Jonah starts out like this:
This is the word of the LORD that came to Jonah, son of Amittai:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.”
Jonah hears God’s call- clear and direct- in the first sentence of the book. And what does he do? He moves his ass in the opposite direction as fast as he can. It isn’t until the third chapter that God manages to drag Jonah to Ninevah kicking, screaming, and smelling of fish
I’ve felt a bit like Jonah lately. I’m pretty good at discerning a calling early on, but I can spend years pretending that I don’t hear it. I am coming to suspect that the mark of a true calling is that my first reaction upon hearing it is to attempt to do the exact opposite.
When I was 13, I felt a clear and direct call to ministry. I was a young Catholic woman and my calling didn’t make sense, so I ran from it. I ran to other religions only to discover that my heart’s language is Catholic and that entering into a ‘marriage of convenience’ with other faiths wouldn’t do justice to myself or them. I attempted to convince myself that I could transfer this calling to teaching or healthcare or politics, and discovered that the things I loved about those professions were just the things that reminded me of ministry.
When others get drunk and talk about dating or news or sports, I get a few beers in me and want to discuss Julian of Norwich or Henri Nouwen. I could have told you the same thing when I was 13 (well, minus the booze), but for some reason, I kept thinking it would change.
Last week, I realized (yet again) that I was running from the path I felt called to take, just because I didn’t know where it would lead. I decided that I need to go to seminary, even if I’m not at all sure what I will do afterward. It occurred to me that maybe if I had some sort of space to reflect on my journey and get some feedback from others, it would make me more accountable to myself during this process. Maybe I won’t off and run to Tarshish again, like poor Jonah.
So, to whoever finds this place, I would welcome your thoughts, prayers and wisdom if you choose to walk with me on this journey. But be warned: unlike Jonah, I suspect that this book will have more than 4 chapters.