March 27, 2013

Itineracy as a Spiritual Discipline

Many years ago (1976)  when my husband, Mike, received his first appointment after completing seminary at Duke,  we knew we would live in many places. We accepted the reality of moving every few years. We knew that God was with us wherever we landed. We were aware that God would mold us and grow us closer to God and to each other as we developed relationships with   people in each church and 

We never questioned a move. We accepted itineracy as part of ministry. We sought God for strength and courage with each church.

I hear a lot of discussion  with seminary students, clergy and clergy spouses, who want to put 'guidelines' on  itineracy and what he/she will accept in an appointment. Some of these restrictions are related to a spouse's employment, a child's grade in school, or various other factors. I often want to say, "Trusting God is part of an appointment. God will provide as needed. Every appointment provides a place to increase faith and dependency on God."  

Twice during Mike's years of service, I had opportunities for professional advancement. One job I had to decline, because we were moving. The other job, in a different town, I  sought for six  years. Finally, there was an opening, for which I applied and was hired. We found out we were moving three months into the  job. I was, of course, disappointed, as was Mike. However I trusted and had faith that God would provide employment in the new community. Shortly after we moved, I received a new position , which combined aspects of the job I had to decline and the job I had to leave. I was so grateful.  

Last week I met with a dear friend whose husband is a district superintendent in the Indiana Conference.  (The North and South Conferences merged a few years ago.) She explained that during a recent seminary visit, her husband spoke with students about itineracy as a spiritual discipline--interesting thought.

Spiritual disciplines are various  practices  that can increase faith and trust in God, as well as expand or open one's heart to the possibilities of growth and opportunity to love and serve in the kingdom. I am so thankful for the way my walk with God has developed each place we've lived. I cannot imagine declining or limiting an opportunity to see how God can act and provide. I left each church Mike pastored a different person--closer to God and deeper knowledge of myself.  

I completely agree with my friend's husband. Perhaps itineracy needs to be added to the list of spiritual disciplines that can draw us closer to God. Jesus' ministry was itinerant. However, times are different than in 1976 when Mike began. What remains the same, however, is the importance  of  seeking God for all needs--for trusting God at all times--and having faith that God WILL provide no matter where one lives.

Jacquie Reed 
Fishers, Indiana

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