I go through stretches of my life where questions and doubts seep into my heart and mind. The stretch can be a day, a week or a couple months. I doubt my vocational choices. I question my future goals. I am unsure of my direction and calling. These stretches of doubt plagued me for years, but gradually I realized these times of doubt and uncertainty were normal. We all live in a grey area from time to time. We wrestle with the mundane routine of our lives and we are unsure of the future.
So when I find myself in the midst of these rough patches, I learned to search for hints of God’s presence. I hope for a moment of transcendence. And only when I begin looking, will the moment appear.
With the end of summer and the transition to a new season, the uncertainty arose again. Am I ready for another year of youth ministry? Is this still my calling? Am I in the right place? The questions circled and I began to look for a moment to guide me.
Amidst the uncertainty, Forest Hill Church kicked off the program year on Sunday morning with the return of the children’s, youth, and adult education programs on Sunday mornings before worship.
For the first six weeks, I lead Sunday morning youth with the sixth and seventh graders. I start the year off with the youngest of the youth group because sixth grade is the first year of youth group. I want to begin a good relationship with the youth from the start. Across the hall, two fabulous adults lead the older youth class.
Eleven youth were present for my class and we had a great morning. We played some games, learned about God’s creation and got to know one another better. Across the hall, seven youth began a study of the Gospel of John.
Eighteen youth were present Sunday morning- the highest number I’ve seen on a Sunday morning since I started at Forest Hill. When I left church after worship, the feelings of doubt were fleeing from my heart.
Sunday evening marked the start of Converge’s second year. Last summer, an idea was placed in my head. It was a little crazy, tons of work, but had the potential to be amazing. The idea was a monthly ecumenical worship service for teens- a time and place for youth to gather together as one body to worship God together. The idea turned into what is now known as Converge which meets monthly on the second Sunday at 7pm in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Some of the denominations represented at Converge are Presbyterian, United Methodist, Baptist, and Lutheran.
After taking the summer off, we hoped Converge would start the year with good attendance and energy. The spring was rough for Converge attendance and I was concerned for it’s future. But, on Sunday night, over ninety youth and adults came to Converge. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable. God was moving. Any uncertainty left in my heart disappeared.
Tuesday evening, I drove over to Church of the Saviour in Cleveland Heights. Church of the Saviour opens it’s doors on Tuesday nights for basketball open gyms, hosted by First Baptist. It’s a little confusing, but these two churches are working together (as they do with Converge) to provide a safe and fun place for teens to play basketball on Tuesday evenings.
I went to the basketball open gym to check out the ministry and to play some hoops. I love playing basketball, so I jumped in the games. It was so much fun to play. More importantly, I witnessed relationships develop with the teens and adults present. I can’t wait to see where the ministry goes and how God works through a ball and a hoop.
After these few days, I am reminded life is ironic. A week ago, my motivation was fading. This week, I am excited and enthusiastic about the youth ministry opportunities ahead.
I know doubt and uncertainty is normal and sometimes it can be beneficial. Doubt may lead us to a new path, a greater calling. But, doubt can also be our minds getting the best of us. Our uncertainty can be an excuse to be selfish, to be lazy or to give up. Those moments of doubt are not beneficial.
Through my life, I learned to keep my eyes and ears open when I find myself lost. I seek God’s presence in big and small moments to remind, refresh, and renew. God is present. But, if you aren’t looking, you may miss the moment to erase your doubts.
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If you want to read more about transformational moments, check out my book When Light Hits the Path.