At church on Sunday, I listened for God to speak to me in the sermon. My own struggles in the past few weeks (see next post) have made me yearn to hear a sermon. Ironically, I almost thought I would miss the sermon because the nursery workers didn't show up, and I thought I'd be asked to stay in there. But I really felt that I needed a sermon, so I am glad when someone was found to watch my son (and the others).
So, the sermon was from Esther. When situations arise, usually we are left with two choices: remain comfortable or get angry. Esther did not simply remain comfortable in Xerxes court, and she did not get angry. Esther formed a middle ground that was proactive and most godly. She made a personal sacrifice.
I have been both comfortable and angry in the past months: comfortable hiding behind my children and not seeking a ministry position. And angry that there is so little support in Baptist churches for women pastors (at least where I am at in the southern US). I have explained the comfort part of that in previous posts, so let me explore the anger.
In the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, there is a support of women being ordained for the most part. That group was formed as a reaction to the SBC, so it is no surprise. The surprise comes when just how many of those CBF churches have called women to pastor. Pam Durso, a Baptist historian, has done some research in this area. She told us at the North Carolina CBF meeting this year that there are 86 pastors or co-pastors in CBF churches. That number sounds good until it is realized that there are 1,800 churches in the CBF. That is 4 percent that are led by women!
As I listened to the sermon about Esther on Sunday, I thought about how to make that personal sacrifice like Esther. Where is the middle ground in this case? Sacrifice in my situation has always meant the sacrifice I am making now to stay at home with my children—at least up until the past few months. For a moment, I wondered if I was hearing God tell me to stay at home even amid all my discontent. Then that thought went away when we sang the closing hymn: “I Love to Tell the Story.”
In my heart, I am no closer to finding a solution to my internal dilemma. But I am clear that I do love to tell the story. Now I will be holding that hymn in my heart for everything it says to me about my call and my future.
I am so glad that I got to participate in worship on Sunday. I am so glad that God finds a way to speak to me. Now if God could only tell me how to find the middle ground in my situation.