Update from the Anchor School of Ministry.
I just finished my fourth week in the Anchor School of Ministry (ASM) and I feel like it started yesterday. I’ve been through so many personal changes, challenges, struggles, hopes, and excitement than I have in my 24 years of being alive. And the funny thing is, I feel more alive and more passionate and more hopeful than I have every felt before.
I came to ASM to find out who God is, who He is to me, why I need him, and to learn how to apply what I’m learning personally and reflect that to others in my life. We have speakers come and teach 3 days every week while our directors, Ryan and Christina, teach the last 2 days. There are a total of 5 students in the class who are beyond encouraging, helpful, motivating, and inspiring. It was evident in the first week that this wasn’t just a class, but a family. We have all been broken together and grown together, individually and as a class.
I can’t get over how all that I’m learning, all the knowledge, all the prayers, all the conversations, all the speakers, all the topics, all the sermons - every single thing - has been so perfectly orchestrated and so perfect in timing. As I look over my prayers mixed in with my notes, God has been so faithful in answering my prayers through His unchanging character! God has blown my mind and blown my expectations of what He is fully capable of doing in my life.
We learned the basics of faith, and even approached it from an atheist point of view that so we could understand the differences between faith and belief. Belief is an opinion or a conviction to the existence of something that is not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof while faith is believing in something intangible and unprovable without evidence. We received the historical teachings of our faith and took an accelerated lesson through the Old Testament which opened my mind to what I had grazed over before. From learning about the true covenant to learning about the unchanging nature of our God, it wrecked my framework of who I am because I am a chosen being that has the same capability to love unconditionally just as God does. There is no evolutionary process for love. Because I am made in God’s image, I am perfect - I am exactly who I am fulfilling exactly what I am made to do.
Intimacy with Father God consumed me and broke me yet again. My walls and barriers that I’ve lived behind came crashing down. Those had kept me from being vulnerable and kept me “safe”. I had assumed characteristics about myself that had begun as lies from my childhood and I attached to those lies as truth and they became who I was. I defined myself as a perfectionist and I believed that I had to perform, to do well, in order to be known and to be validated and affirmed. Even if my thoughts and actions were genuine, I thought that if I was nice to people, went out of my way for others, talked or listened, then they would like me and want to be around me. I put expectations on myself to be someone to others and to God. I am not expected to be anyone to God because He sees me as perfect.
I had yet another breakdown, where I was in my car during lunch break, and just wept. I had carried around the burden of performance and unworthiness on my own for so long that it had overcome and overwhelmed my ability to do anything, especially act dependently on God. It was too much and I sat in my car, praying for release and submission of my will to the Lord. I rewrote Psalm 139, the Prayer of Examine, in words that related to my life, giving up total control, asking God to search me and know where I am offending Him. It was hard for me to ask Him to “test me” in what I held closest to myself and what I didn’t want to give up. But how could I continue to live under my control and feel so helpless and so at the end of my rope?
Examine me, Abba, and know my heart and will. Test me. Take from me what I do not need, Lord. Show me where I offend You, Abba. Let me listen, and lead me to respond in Your love and Your life everlasting.
This sums up the past four weeks of my life in the Anchor School of Ministry. Of course, so much more has gone on and happened to me during this time, but for sake of keeping this as short as possible, I’ll end here. My life has been beyond beautiful and I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be where I am now and be with the people that I am surrounded by. God is so good!
I want to reiterate how generously God has financially provided for my tuition, regular bills and daily expenses! I am in awe. I am still in need of raising $600 for our trip to Peru and for the rest of my tuition. The deadline for my trip/tuition money is due February 28th. I would like to ask for your prayers in raising the rest of the needed money. If you would like to give, you can send your donation to:
1345 Bell Rd. Unit 442
Antioch, TN 37013
Donations made out to The Anchor Fellowship are tax deductible. If you choose to give through the church, please write “Maria Petty/ASM” on the memo line. Please send me your address and I will gladly send you a return addressed envelope!
I definitely wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for YOUR support! I am so thankful, so ecstatic, so impressed, and so humbled that you would be involved in my life and my spiritual relationship this far. I cannot thank you enough.