by Jody Noble (M.Div., Class of 2010)
As I sat in the second pew from the front of Rockefeller Chapel on Saturday, May 15th with my graduating classmates, holding my MDiv diploma in its protective blue cover and listening to President Cynthia Campbell’s charge to the graduating class to enjoy our day today but then begin tomorrow by asking ourselves the question “What’s Next?”, I felt a small knot of tension begin to form in my stomach. I had a pretty decent idea of how the graduation day celebrations would go, but had no idea what tomorrow was going to bring. Would the part-time solo stated supply pastor contract I had negotiated with a small congregation in NW Indiana be approved by the Wabash Valley COM? Would the WV CPM and Presbytery approve me to become a member and ordain me into the part-time stated supply pastor position, a first for their presbytery? How would serving as a solo part-time pastor impact my husband, daughters, and other life commitments?
There were so many unknowns to the questions that blazed through my mind and the knot in my stomach grew. But then that voice, which I have come to know as the Holy Spirit, gently said, “Jody, it will all be ok.” I took a deep breath and exhaled as my spiritual mentor at McCormick had taught me to do, reined my thoughts back in, and took a few moments to picture myself taking a step into God’s presence and being enveloped by God’s warmth and protection. I pulled up memories of times I had journeyed with God when I had had few answers to “What’s Next?” … the combined ten year part-time journey at two seminaries to graduate with an MDiv, a move with my husband to Chicago from the place in Ohio that had previously been our home for seventeen years, being a non-traditional student and all of the balancing challenges that came with, and always enough or more than enough income to provide for our family’s care. A smile began to form on my face and the knot of anxiety in my stomach untangled itself.
I took a look around at my classmates and teachers and asked God to bless them all with a sense of peace in the not knowing what is next times. I took a peek back at all of the McCormick staff, family and friends who had come to share in the graduation service and asked God to also bless them all with a sense of peace in their not knowing what is next times. And I thanked God for giving President Campbell the words to charge us with because it was in rediscovering the “I don’t know what is next but I do know who I’m going to make the journey with” answer that my “it’s all about me” perspective shifted to “it’s all about you, God” and made the long walk out of the chapel into “What’s Next?” a memory I will always cherish!