Rebecca Worl currently serves as a Pastor at Pine Lake Covenant Church. She is a women’s retreat speaker and an itinerant preacher in the Evangelical Covenant Church. She holds her undergraduate degree in theology from Seattle Pacific University and her masters in Theological and Biblical Studies from Fuller Seminary.
Becca and her husband Rob have two children, Annabelle, 16, and Bradley, 11, and they live in Issaquah, WA. When she is not working and parenting, you will find Becca hiking, or writing at a coffee shop, drinking coffee, making coffee, or meeting for coffee!
TAKING UP SPACE
I wasn’t planning on crying in my first Covenant orientation seminary class “Theology of the Evangelical Covenant Church,” but I did. Quietly, discreetly wiping tears away from my eyes as I heard the Spirit speak so clearly to me through the guest speaker, Rev. Mary Chung. Our professor had invited a diverse panel of women pastors to come and share the struggles and triumphs of their vocational journey. In conclusion, Rev. Chung leaned into the mic and deliberately, slowly said: “(As a woman) Do not apologize for your presence. Do not be afraid to take up space.”
When these words landed on my heart, I had an instantaneous, emotional reaction to them. But I wasn’t sure why. I knew this was God talking to me, but about what? What does it mean to be apologetic about my presence? Am I afraid to take up space?
My journey toward ordination to Word and Sacrament has been long and twisty and will be completed next year; I’ll be 43. At 19 I felt the call of the Lord to be His pastoral servant. I zealously started seminary when I was 21, finished when I was 31! The seminary road was paved with marriage, pregnancies and relocations; it was long and bumpy, but I stayed the course, anchored in the conviction that I was called to vocational ministry. However, the road was not only long, it was marked by very dark and terrible trauma that imprisoned me in a place of silence, and fear, never believing I could belong in church leadership.
Being Set Free
In God’s divine timing, after 15 years of bondage, Jesus tenderly drew me out of that miry pit and enabled me to courageously break my silence. He set me free from the prison of fear and shame and restored me fully back to community and mission. Jesus is always making all things new, he heals the broken hearted and binds up our wounds, makes straight the crooked paths, releases prisoners from darkness, proclaims freedom for captives! Jesus brought me a fullness of healing and liberation I had never experienced before. “Shackles off my feet so I can dance, I just wanna praise him!”… the song goes, can you hear it?!
This deliverance led to a passionate recommitment to call, a bursting forth fully onto my pastoral path, empowered by the Spirit to do it. God invited me into multiple places and platforms around our conference, nation and even globally — teaching, leading, speaking, preaching, then most recently, to the position of chair of our PacNW Executive Board. It was like a dam burst, and we were off! Let’s go!
Preaching at Cedarcreek Covenant Church
Leading worship at Pine Lake Covenant
And yet, as a wounded-healer, I carry with me my scars, and I have still some open wounds that I need to attentively tend to. During class that day, the Spirit showed a new place of healing to allow Jesus to enter into – the lie I still believed: “I don’t belong here.” That wound runs deep. “Don’t apologize for your presence,” Mary said, speaking right to that bruise. And God showed me how I do this – something like this:
Cringing yet? So am I. These apologetic answers reveal the “you don’t belong here” lie, and are an attempt to shrink myself…but it also shrinks the glory of God. Everything I am, all I have been given, all I am invited to, all that I have been gifted with and equipped for, is from God. He is the source, He is the light, He is the sun – I am the moon absorbing the radiance and reflecting it back to the world so that the world in darkness might know him and be drawn like a magnet to Divine light. If I hide, shrink, apologize for taking up space, how does that bring Glory to my Father in heaven? How does that magnify His name? How does that spotlight His redemptive work in the world? It doesn’t. Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m going to let it shine.
He is the source, He is the light, He is the sun – I am the moon absorbing the radiance and reflecting it back to the world so that the world in darkness might know him and be drawn like a magnet to Divine light.
God invites me to press fully into the space He has opened for me in this world. I belong in this space because He has asked me and called me to be here. I belong at this table because this is how God has chosen to refract his brilliant light back to the world. I was led to this verse that now serves as an anchor for this next journey: “God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit….Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!”(1 Cor 12:4-11 MSG).
Each person is given something to do that shows who God is. And then everyone benefits. Isn’t that a great reminder? What has God given me to do that shows who He is?
What has God given you? An ability to listen deeply? A nurturing soul? Strong leadership skills? A heart for prayer? Cultural sensitivity? A passion for justice? Are we apologizing for these places and spaces God has equipped and called us to? Let us not shrink back sisters, but press fully into the mission God has for us – He who calls us, is faithful. Let us FULLY, without apology reflect His radiance according to the gifts we’ve been given, so that everyone will benefit.
Posing on the “Friend’s” couch at Warner Brothers studio