Taran Denning is a Gonzaga University graduate and Luther Seminary
Have you ever really put yourself in Joseph's shoes? Consider Joseph's side of the Christmas story. He must have thought he had his life planned out. He was going to wed Mary, have some children, and live a comfortable life as a carpenter. And then his whole world is rocked with news of a new calling and vocation. He was to be the father of God made
I know it is spring and Easter just around the corner but stay with me. Joseph's Christmas surprise is very much how my call to ministry felt. During my undergraduate years, I studied Biology while pursuing a career as a dentist. After graduating from Gonzaga in 2011, I applied and received a position as a Youth Coordinator at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Spokane, Washington. My plan was that this was a one-year position to bridge the gap year as I applied to dental school. My top five dental schools, my life plan, career, and direction felt set.
And then something started stirring up in me spiritually. The message came for me in two forms. It came from within as I began imagining myself in the pulpit proclaiming the gospel. And it came from brothers and sisters in Christ, who began to name gifts they saw in me for a future in ministry leadership. Both felt like divine messages and messengers calling my future in a new direction. Through prayerful, conversational, and personal discernment – my call to ministry felt undeniable and uncontainable. It was something I could not help but pursue.
So, dental interviews were canceled and the applications were withdrawn as I then applied at Luther Seminary. After further discernment, I enrolled in Luther's Distributive Learning program. This program allows students to remain where they are and take classes both online and during intensive course work on campus in January and June. This program has allowed me to apply learnings from the classroom into practice/context at a church. It has felt like taking a chemistry class while also getting to experiment learnings in the lab. An incredible and helpful and hands-on learning environment.
And this journey continues to be filled with turns, twists, and blessings that I could not have expected. This has included meeting and then marrying my incredible wife,
It will be truly a wonderful learning experience as we continue to go and listen where God guides and calls. May the bliss of Christmas and the joy of Easter be with you this spring.
P.S.Curyn and I both enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors, sitting inside to enjoy a good brew (coffee or beer), cheering on our Gonzaga Men and Women basketball teams, watching movies and exploring restaurants, parks, malls, and cities. Vancouver will be a fantastic fit for all these things! We will appreciate hearing about your favorite places in town!
(Also, I have to admit … I am a Los Angeles Lakers basketball fan, but I won't cheer against Portland … unless they are playing the Lakers.)