Most people believe their life has a purpose. In John Calvin’s theology every person’s work is a responsibility assigned to him by God.
So in the Presbyterian Church’s Calvinist doctrine of occupational calling, becoming an ordained pastor is a response to this belief. Here is one pastor’s story of the experience, with a moral.
“It was late Spring 2011. Adrian had graduated from Princeton Seminary, our student housing had expired, and I was still in the process of finding a job. Maewynn was 6 months old. We sold nearly everything we owned, even my beautiful Camaro (some people thought it wasn’t “car-seat friendly”), and packed up what little we had left on the top of Adrian’s parents’ hand-me-down Toyota Corolla and headed west. We were moving back in with my parents in California.
We were making good time. Every morning I checked the oil and made sure we had water and food and diapers in the car. Every morning except, of course, for one fateful morning. We wanted to visit Devil’s Tower and get all the way to Cody, WY, an 8+ hour drive, that day. We left early. The car was running rough. We stopped in a small town in Wyoming and asked for a garage. The mechanic looked at our Toyota with a sneer: ”Don’t do imports.” We pressed on.
The oil was leaking, I was sure of it. There were no towns now, just 360º of grassland and cows in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains. We had run out of water. And diapers. We made it down a big hill, and coasted to the top of the next before a sickening mechanical noise whined from under the hood, and the car came to a dead stop. We were alone with the wind.
I grabbed my flip phone – one bar of service! I called the number for AAA. There was a town only 35 miles away! We waited thirsty, hungry, and alone. Our shining knight came an hour later in a tow truck, missing three front teeth. We were elated.
I held baby Mae in one arm as I tended a stress-induced bloody nose with the other, and we rode in the tow truck.
At Stan’s Auto Body we got the bad news: the engine block was cracked and our car was totaled. The nearest car rental was 40 miles away in Sheridan. I called the Avis at the regional airport there: “I’m sorry, hon, but we don’t have any one-way rental cars available. Oh, and don’t bother calling the Hertz, I answer that phone too.”
Somehow we ended up at a Mexican restaurant, and I looked at Adrian and said, “We will be no more than 24 hours in Buffalo.”
Then my phone rings. It’s Agnes Schneider! Co-chair of the GPC search committee! “Rachel, we’d love to have you come down from New Jersey for a final interview for the job!”
“I’m a little farther than New Jersey at the moment, Agnes,” I said, and I filled her in.
“Well, get to LA as soon as you can and we’ll get you out to DC.”
We found a place to stay: a series of tiny log cabins run by a 7’ mountain man and his 4’6″ wife. The next morning we returned to Stan’s, and sold our car to Mike’s Bottom Dollar Auto. As we filled out the paperwork, the garage phone rang. A mechanic looked up and said, “It’s for you.”
“Hi, ma’am? It’s Cheryl from the Avis. Turns out we have a Malibu that needs to get back to San Francisco. You can rent that if you can get to Sheridan today!”
Bottom Dollar Mike, may God bless his soul, loaded up all our worldly possessions in his gigantic Chevy truck and drove us the whole way. We loaded up the (Chevy) Malibu and finished the trip. I flew out to DC and was offered the job as Director of Christian Ed. at Georgetown Presbyterian Church. The rest, as they say, is history.
P.S. The moral of the story is: I should have kept the Camaro. ”
A question for readers: When telling your call’s story, what will be the moral?
PSS: Rachel has a new future as the SeniorPastor of Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in DC starting this month.