By Jessica Jenkins
The 2017-2019 ministry focus of American Baptist Women’s Ministries is “Feel/Siente.” Information about the theme, based on Luke 8:43-49, Acts 17:27-28 (NLT), and 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (The Voice), may be found at www.abwministries.org/theme. This post is part of a series of “Herstories” from American Baptist women around this theme.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV
I remember the last visit I had home to Philadelphia to see my family. I ran into an old friend and she said something that totally took me off guard. “Jess, I don’t know if I would have had the faith like you did to move away, by yourself, and go to school.” I was confused with her words. It never really dawned on me until that moment the transformation that had taken place in my life.
It has been three years now since I moved hours from my family to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree at the age of 23. Moving here was never in my five-year or ten-year plans. If you would have asked me a few years ago where I saw myself, I would not say Nashville. I was planning to get my Masters in Public Health, and I had already acquired a job with an amazing non-profit after graduation; I was well on my way to an amazing career in healthcare. That is, I was until my ambitions were pleasantly introduced to God and God’s plans. Once introduced, my life’s plans were transformed into something that I could have never imagined.
I don’t think that there has ever been a time in my life where faith was a major factor. Faith, by definition, is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. I have never really had much confidence in anyone or anything other than myself. But I knew that I was out of my league when it came to this new life direction. So I guess you can say that I developed a slight lack of faith in what I personally was able to do. And if you couple the ignorance that I had with a total faith and reliance on God, I guess you can also say that there developed the perfect match. Someone saying that I had a lot of faith was right. All I did was put my faith in God. I felt that God was leading me to seminary and, if God was leading me, God would make provisions for me as well. Having that trust in God and God’s ability made it so much easier to follow. My desire in life transformed from pleasing myself to pleasing and doing the will that God ordained for me.
Don’t get me wrong: this faith walk has not been the easiest. Trusting in a God that you cannot physically see or touch is tough. But a God that you can feel every step of the way is comforting. Any moment that I feel stressed, financially unstable, doubting my calling, or saddened because I am away from my family, God has made me, instead, feel engulfed in complete love and care. Somtimes it is by a message from someone I have come to know here, or reading the scriptures and being comforted. I have been taught a new type of faith: one that does not depend on what I am able to do, but one that is lived out by having faith in God and trusting that I will consistently feel God’s presence. There is not a step that I have taken in which I did not feel like God was there. In the midst of total mayhem, as well as the silence of the most peaceful moments, God has been with me.