University Blog

Surprised by the Journey

Posted by Denise Barker on

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”    

Philippians 1:6


It is always risky trying to predict one’s trajectory in life. We can suppose it, plan it, strategize it, calculate it, but most often we are surprised by it. A trajectory is “the path followed by an object moving under the action of given forces”. As Christians, when we pay attention, we realize the Holy Spirit is the force that directs our lives. As only God would have it, the Spirit moved me onto an elliptical trajectory and returned me to the place that had laid the bedrock of my faith and compelled and emboldened my response to God’s love. How remarkable is that? Nothing short of divine physics.

After serving University for 18 years, it had become clear I was to leave to serve another community of faith for the next 10 years, never once believing God would return me here. Here, where the most formative growth in my adult Christian life took hold. Here, where my children grew up. Here, where I came to believe in myself after finding the courage to share that story of rape for the very first time. Here, where I had the joy of teaching hundreds and hundreds of Bible studies to dear friends. Here, where I answered the call to ordained ministry. Here, where God convicted me to stand for despairing and abused, equipped me to empower the hidden and voiceless. How did God do that? This transformative work came through the kindness and nurturing people of University. That is the force of God at work. In these days following Easter, how blessed it has been to wonder through corridors and peer into classrooms remembering tears and laughter between dear friends; to linger over a tile preserving my youngest daughter’s handprint; to close my eyes in the beautiful sanctuary remembering many contemplative moments of listening for God’s will in my life, to tenderly recall the many mentors that held me up during the painful decision to leave and now these newest colleagues that have graciously allowed me to serve here once again. Throughout my earliest days of listening to God’s claim on my life Philippians 1:6 was a significant scripture for me. I hope you will claim it with me once again and believe that God continues to do a good work in your life and mine. God continues to propel you on this amazing journey called faith. I’d suggest you hold on because as C.S. Lewis puts it, you will be “surprised by joy” on where God leads you! 



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