We asked our bloggers to share where they’ve seen God at work in 2016. Here is what they shared.
I’m the type of person who needs to do “a year in review” monthly or I seem to gravitate towards the last two to three months of the year, because those are the ones that are fresh in my mind. I told myself I would keep a journal of “God sightings” a long time ago, but I rarely remember to write down the miraculous or the “so obvious, but I finally picked up on it.” And so, my journal of God-sightings makes it looks like God rarely shows up – when it’s actually quite the opposite. I either need to commit to the journal or delete it; otherwise it will mislead anyone who stumbles upon it. There’s a New Year’s resolution for me!
And so, this story comes from the latter half of 2016, but it was really many, many years in the making. My parents came from different faith backgrounds. My mom and her family were Catholic and my dad’s family was “inter-denominational.” Dad’s family gets the quotes, because they were not frequent attenders. My parents married in the Catholic Church, but when they moved away from family to Wisconsin with baby twins and another child on the way, they decided to choose a faith together. They landed in/on the PC(USA). Their reasoning was fairly innocuous and simplistic, but as always, God had a greater vision.
Fast-forward to 2004, the year my identical twin sister and I graduated from college – she with a major in anthropology and I with a major in math and minor in digital media studies and statistics. Many think we just look alike and that is where the similarities end. But again, God has a sense of humor. My twin received a Lilly scholarship to attend seminary. She attended Princeton Theological Seminary with aspirations to get her Ph.D. after graduation in anthropology, with no solid ministry plans.
Across the country in Colorado (having graduated from the University of Denver), I was loving my technical, math jobs. In 2004, I was happily working in mortgages and reinsurance… and, of course, snowboarding and trail running (why did I ever leave Colorado?).
But, here’s the hook to the story. Somewhere in between the numbers and corporate America, God called me to ministry. I left my great job in the actuarial department for Denver Seminary, sensing God’s call to the pastorate. And God put it all together for me – with a scholarship, a great PC(USA) church to be under care with (and even greater mentors there) and pastors who helped me complete my degree in reformed theology at an evangelical school. And then God placed me in my first associate pastor position in Rockford, Illinois.
And across the country, my twin sister found herself called to pastoral ministry (after completing her PhD.) as well, in a part-time position. And though she attended seminary and graduated first, I was ordained first, and so, just a couple of years later, I got to be part of her ordination service (and yes, receive lots of congratulations from people who could not tell us apart).
But, all of this happened before 2016 you must surely be thinking, so why the title? THIS YEAR, I was talking on the phone with my mom and she said, “I finally understand why God called me out of the Catholic Church all those years before. It was so the two of you could answer God’s call to be pastors.” I hate to admit it, but as clear as that one piece of the story is now, I would have never realized that without her help.
And so, 2016 is when I recognized God at work in my family in this way. And isn’t that how it always is? We see God at work when we are ready, but God is always at work. Often we call it God working behind the scenes, but God never hides; we just can only see when we are ready.
JULIE RAFFETY is in her first call as associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rockford, Illinois. Julie is a violinist, aspiring writer, snowboarder, runner, identical twin and crazy about popcorn.