I can’t list that many specific incidents that have influenced me to be a minister; it has rather come from a search of my purpose in life, my place in the world.
I have believed in God as far back as I can remember. Somewhat childish at first (when it rains it is because God crying), but gradually more seriously. My interest in religion and faith has always been great, from the first visits to India in the early nineties through junior and senior high school when I wrote extra papers on different religions.
I also had an interest for teaching, which surfaced when I started first grade and has been with me since. I tried to find my place in the teaching profession: Waldorf-teacher (i.e. ages 6-12) (that seminary shut down the year I was to apply), secondary school teacher (i.e. ages 10-12) in English (but I wasn’t sure it was right, so took a year off instead to think about it), senior high school-teacher in religion (I got fed-up with my teachers who always questioned the sanity of believing in God and wasn’t sure I was learning anything valuable from them), and latest, primary school teacher (i.e. ages 7-9) (but I cannot with conscience follow the regulations from the new right-wing government that categorizes children as winners and losers).
Generally, if we try something three times and are unsuccessful, we might consider trying something else because this thing may not be right. I endeavored four times to study to be a teacher and by the second semester of the fourth attempt (spring 2012) I was rather panicked. I had studied university courses for a year and a half; I was 24 years old and hadn’t found “my thing”. I settled uneasily for dropping out and instead study my hobbies web design (though I didn’t actually want to spend my life in front of a computer satisfying people’s desires) and photography (which of course is a very hard profession). I considered other options too, but I do not wish to bore you with a list. What I really wanted was to dedicate myself to God full time, but I didn’t know how.
Now, something happened that I can say was a specific incident. That spring I attended a once-a-week afternoon course in drawing in Östersund, some miles from where I lived. Every time I waited in the city till evening and attended the local church’s youth-group’s weekly Taizé mass. Then I had to wait till 11 PM to catch my one hour buss home. Gradually I began to attend the youth-groups meetings before the mass and became good friends with the leading minister. One night when I came home, it must have been around 00.30 o’clock on April 5th, I was particularly upset by my life-situation and my anxiety led me to pray more ardently for Jesus’ help by my home altar. Sitting there on the floor, almost wrenching in agony, I experienced a profound peace spreading from the inside spreading throughout my body and as if a voice saying: “Minister. You may become a minister.”
A great weight was lifted from my shoulders, a tension from my body, and an anxiety from my life. A song that came to me shortly after this sums the feeling up perfectly: For the First Time by The Afters (it is pasted in the end of this post). I listened to it at least 20 times a day for weeks. “I can breathe, for the first time, I can see, for the first time…” For the first time in my life I felt I was doing the right thing.
I remembered a desire that I had always had, to be a priest. I had watched with longing the “pujaris” in Hindu temples; photos of rabbis reading the Torah; Christian ministers in our Swedish Church in their white robes; Christian, Hindu and Buddhist monks and nuns. I had even once visited The Church of Sweden’s website and read the, to me at that time seemingly endless, list of requirements for aspiring ministers and given up on the sheer complexity of it all. But now the list didn’t seem nearly as long anymore.
There was a week or so left until the universities’ last day of application that year. Based on my previous experience of religion in the university I searched for an alternative where faith is first and found Johannelund Theological University College and Stockholm School of Theology. Because I got immediate good contact with Johannelund it was there I ended up. And I haven’t regretted it one moment since.
Being allowed to hope that in the future I will serve God and His people as a minister is a privilege for me. It is a great gift given to an undeserving but thankful recipient. I have found a purpose in my life, a way to continue breathing. It isn’t always easy, and I am not at all sure I can do it at all. I need Jesus to do it through me, to use me as an instrument of His will.
Lord, let me be a wee bird eating grains from your hand, singing Your glories to the world.