The large grounds of the retreat center spread out before me as I exited my car on a cool April evening. I half-expected to hear the ringing of bells, but the only sound was the wind’s soft breath through the trees. Walking up to the main building I felt curious about who else would be there and nervous about what questions I might be asked. Back in my car, I had quickly read through 2 Corinthians chapter 12, pausing on verses 9-10:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This evening would be the culmination, or perhaps true starting point, of a process of being called into ministry for about fifteen years. In just the past few months, I had gone through the interviews, psychological screenings, and essay writing that would give the committee I was about to meet a better picture of me as a candidate for ministry.
I stepped into the retreat center and was warmly greeted by synod staff. The building itself welcomed me with the beautiful collection of art that was displayed along every wall. It included works by recognized masters alongside the creative talent of local students.
And so began my evening. I chatted with the other applicants and waited. I spent a lot of time waiting by walking the halls and enjoying the art. The committee interviewed me. Finally, at the end of the evening I went before the larger group of the entire committee and received a positive entrance decision.
I was now a candidate for ministry.