a calling of unknowns

Hi! It’s been awhile.

In all honesty, I don’t completely know how to write this post. It shouldn’t be difficult. It’s just an update. Fortunately for me, “not knowing” is a common experience (non-experience?) at this point, so at least I can start with familiarity. 

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I’ve been a Christian for a decade and I never personally understood the word calling until a few months ago. I had prayed and asked God for a calling- some kind of personal purpose and motivation, something big and grand and adventurous- numerous times over the years. In fact, it was one of the first prayers I prayed after accepting salvation. 

My family visited Summit for the first time barely a week after I had secretly become a Christian. Pastor J.D. preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit and I had no idea what he was talking about (Wind? Sanctification? What?), but when he presented the Gospel at the end I felt a pull in my heart because that was it! The thing I knew! The thing that saved me. 

The sermon ended. Leaning back in my chair in that renovated warehouse, I decided to inform my parents that this would be the church we would be attending from now on. Before turning to them to let them in on my executive decision (“thank you and you’re welcome, Mom and Dad”), I glanced at the overhead screens. One said something about spending two years after college serving on mission. I immediately decided that this was my calling. I prayed and informed God about this new development. Thank you and you’re welcome, God.

Throughout high school and college, I held on to the belief that my calling was to spend two years on international mission after graduation. I never questioned it and I never prayed about it. I felt that it was just such a noble and good thing to do that of course it’s what I was meant to do. Despite this very slight oversight on my part (apparently, the Christian is not really supposed to inform God on what her calling is, but is supposed to let him decide??? Baffling) God still changed me in many hard but good ways. These changes helped me when I was finally faced with the undeniable and unrelenting truth that I could not go overseas after college. In the moment, it was devastating. Now, I understand.

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Had I gone overseas, I would not have been able to process through some personal stuff with a mental health professional. 

The cancer rapidly developing on my thyroid would have likely gone unfound.

If the cancer had been discovered overseas, I would have either had to return home to undergo surgery or would have had surgery alone in an unfamiliar place.

(for those who didn’t know that I’d had thyroid cancer, I’m good now! I don’t talk about it often because the word “cancer” makes it sound a lot worse than it was. It could have been a big deal, but it wasn’t, so I don’t mention it often.)

The pandemic would have probably sent me home.

I would not have been able to enroll as an M.Div student at SEBTS and develop my newfound passion for Bible translation.

I would not have met all of the amazing people through small groups that I now have the blessing of knowing. 

I would not have started volunteering with middle schoolers.

I would not have interned with Summit.

I would not have found my calling.

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To be fair to my fourteen year old self, “calling” is one of those concepts that is too often hyper spiritualized or hyper emotionalized. My pragmatic decision of “I want to do mission overseas, it seems good, so I’m going to do missions overseas” was wrong in it’s self-determination, but wasn’t entirely off when it comes to the practicality of the decision. People often hold the misconception that they need to do nothing until they feel a distinct and undeniable call from God to go somewhere, do something, be someone. This is a mistake. God’s call is already distinct and undeniable. The Great Commission in Matthew 28: 18-20 is for all Christians throughout all times. There’s a saying around Summit that summarizes this idea quite well. The question is no longer if you are called, but where and how. 

After reconciling with the fact that I would not be going overseas for two years after college, the questions of where? and how? became more pressing in my mind, to the point of obsession. I’m happy to report that I now have the answers!

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Where?

I don’t know!

How?

I don’t know!

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Game of Thrones-esque disappointing and unsatisfying narrative twist to this post aside, accepting unknowns and determining to simply follow God, faithful in what is set immediately in front me, has been the most hard-fought lesson learned throughout the past year. I can’t say that I’ve become an expert in it, or have achieved some level of spiritual zen about it, or can even make it through a day without wanting to whine about it, but, through the Holy Spirit, I am doing it.

I want to plan my life and then I want to do my life. I’ve always been happy to fit God into my schedule. Thank you for salvation and you’re welcome, God! I’m here for you! I’ll study your Word and lead groups and I’ll even go. I’ll make you an itinerary. Like I said, you’re welcome. So, when self-determination becomes impossible because thyroid medicine makes short-term memory unreliable, when there’s a pandemic, when the housing market goes insane, when you’re broke, when you’re broken, what is calling?

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Calling is withdrawing often to pray, like Jesus in Luke 5:16.

Calling is being raised to life and remade in Christ through God’s mercy, like Paul says in Ephesians 2. 

Calling is casting aside my plans and confidently saying, “If the Lord wills, I shall live, and I shall do this or that.” For what is my life? It’s a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. But God can make even vapors meaningful.

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Long term, I do not know where I will eventually live out the Great Commission. Nor do I know how I will do so. In faith, I trust that God will reveal both to me whenever it’s time for those things to move out of the misty unknowns of my life. But for now, they belong foggy, and I am not going to plunge into vapor to heave them out for the benefit of my schedule. It wouldn’t work, anyway, and, for the first time in my life, I don’t want to know. It’s better unknown.

Here’s what’s up right now. 

I interned with Summit for a year, growing in love and knowledge of Christ and the church. 

I know that I will always be a member of a church body- a contributing member, who follows God in trying to best serve however I am able. 

I love studying the Word, discipling others, teaching the historical and literary context of the Bible, learning Greek, and writing stories. 

I have the privilege of serving an incredible church with a passion for the Gospel, for church planting, for justice, for racial reconciliation, for discipleship, for the abused, for the Word, for the Great Commission. 

Is Summit perfect? Absolutely not. (I’m a member there, after all!) I know it’s not perfect, but it is my church, and, in Christ, it is good. 

In the fog-shrouded future, if the Lord wills, I would absolutely love to go with a church plant. 

I have a lot to learn before that happens. 

I have the opportunity to move from the internship and into the apprenticeship.

After praying, reading the Word, and seeking the advice of my community, I am pursuing the apprenticeship. In light of everything, I believe it is what God has for me right now.

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As an apprentice, I will continue to work in church ministry as a student leader, be mentored by mature Christians, learn skills that I could perhaps use to serve a church plant, and experience a wide variety of ministry training and teaching from some of the awesome leaders from within and from without Summit. The apprenticeship program is a two-year, full-time, and support-raised job.

If you are interested, there are three ways that you could support me through the apprenticeship.

The first way is through prayer. If this entire post is not evidence enough to this, I will blatantly spell it out. I need prayer. I need prayer for perseverance, for wisdom, and for memory. If you would like to commit to praying for me, please comment or message your email address and I’ll add you to my update list.

The second way is through connections. I only know so many people and I have committed to raising my entire salary for two years. If you know anyone who might be interested in meeting and supporting me, please reach out to let me know!

Finally, the third way you could support me is through monetary giving. I have a support page at the link below which allows you to easily sign up to give. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Support Page: https://reliant.org/kaycee.browning

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Thank you so much for reading! I’m so excited about the upcoming two years, and I am so grateful for the support you’ve offered even just in reading this entire post. I have been so blessed.

-Kaycee

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