In high school, I was one of those kids in youth group that answered all the questions and still brought an actual Bible to service instead of using the app. The front row of the youth room apparently had some kind of curse on it, but I wasn’t afraid and purposely sat there to be different. When the youth pastor asked for a volunteer, I learned that sometimes if I just waited, someone else would raise their hand before me. I served on at least one auxiliary at all times and was there early for every service.

I loved church. It was my home away from home. Even in the main services I participated, took notes, laughed at the jokes. I went on special guest days and to weekend conferences.

In my heart was a desire to understand the Bible. I knew the basics. I could tell you just about everything that happened from Adam to King Solomon. Growing up, my mom had us read a chapter of Proverbs every day. The only part of the New Testament I didn’t touch was Revelation. If my pastor asked the congregation to turn to Amos, it took me a little bit longer to find it and the pages there weren’t dog-eared or highlighted. I knew there was some relevant prophecy and information in those other books I ignored, but on the surface they weren’t as easy to relate to. If I was going to live the Word for real, I needed to know what it all meant.

By senior year, I was setting my sights on ministry school. I thought about all of the drama I put myself through as a tween and how it could have been avoided if I had had someone to I felt I could talk to, someone I could have allowed to mentor me. I thought about how much my church’s youth ministry meant to me and I decided I would be a youth pastor.

My first choice for education was my church’s ministry school. I had heard so many encouraging testimonies from my youth pastors and other church staff. I figured if God had placed me in this church, then that was the school for me too. There was one problem, though. The school was at a satellite church on the other side of the country. My parents were not thrilled about this. Besides being very far away, the school was a small, non-accredited, two-year school that didn’t provide housing, and did not accept government financial aid. Most of the other students would have been married or middle-aged. But if there was one thing I had learned from my pastor, it was that if there was something I wanted, all I had to do was to pray and believe for it. Why would God not want this for me? I was seeking His Kingdom and His ministry. To appease my parents, I applied to a few in-state Bible schools and one only halfway across the country, but in my heart I knew where I wanted to be.

I spent that school year praying and believing for tuition, housing, and work. I shared my plans with people at church, who had known me since I was a baby, and I knew they were impressed. In May, at my open house, I told my guests that if for some reason I didn’t attend my first choice, I’d be going to a Bible college three hours away from my hometown.

That August the young adults ministry at my church was having a two-day conference and all of the high school seniors were invited to attend. I was beyond excited. A whole weekend of worship, small groups, and Bible study–with adults instead of kids.

The second day, I was sitting in the morning session with some of my senior friends and I heard in an almost audible voice, Wait.

Wait. It almost echoed. The speaker on stage didn’t miss a beat. Apparently no one else heard what I heard. Wait. With just one word came full understanding. I was not to attend that ministry school in the fall.

“But there is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.” Job 32:8

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.” Psalm 119:73

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