Basically, I feel very strongly that God wants me to enter into Optimum for the year. I'm certain of it, actually.
This, quite frankly, scares me. Make no mistake, this is not a decision you just make. Especially in a situation like mine.
Optimum is a year-long opportunity to work alongside Viz-A-Viz, as I mentioned before, in one of 6 different tracks - Music, Theatre, Technical Solutions, Youth and Community Teams, School's Work, or working with one of three organisations such as Bar'N'Bus.
I feel like track 2 - Theatre - is the one God wants me to do.
Now, consider the facts from my situation. I have been out of work for over a year. My bank account - my readily-accessible money - is dwindling, and the rest is all in difficult-to-access places which is meant for things like buying a house, having a pension, and basically securities like that. All of which has been carefully saved up, with help from my parents (read: My parents did most of this work, really.)
The year costs £3000-odd, but it's not needed to pay it all in one go, and it's pretty much normal that the church will help fund it, from what I've seen of the two other people I know of who have done it.
My parents aren't Christian. They are, however, well-versed in the ways of money. That's a good thing from the point of view of having a secure future, which pretty much everybody wants, right? Note that I'm not pooh-poohing the idea of saving up money; that would be silly.
All of the above scares me. A lot.
And what have I got for me?
Yeah, my parents didn't think much of that either. I've explained to them both separately now about this conviction I have, and Mum rose up all the above points and more - like the fact that this may not be helping to get a job; if I wanted to go to university I would need to pay that too; and things like that. I'll be talking to them together later today. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but at the same time, this could well be a big step.
Okay, I've done with my share of pessimism. Let's get on to what I believe this would do for me positively.
Firstly, it's going to teach me a ton of valuable lessons. This first one is probably the biggest of them all, and that's to trust in God completely. I believe God can really work through me if I just let him. To do that, though, I need to throw myself out. I need to put my trust in Him alone, and not on anything this world can offer.
Taking part in this year-long programme is going to make me grow in a lot of ways; in my skills as well as spiritually. It's going to boost my independence from my parents. I'll get hands-on work with drama, one of my favourite things, which may help to get a job elsewhere, or at least to get a university position. I'm going to grow closer to God. I'll be helping to evangelise to other people and telling them what God's doing in my life.
God's giving me the opportunity to let him really shine through me, and for me to grow in Him.
Of course, this is hard to understand for my parents. On an initial talk, my Mum was pretty upset about all this. My Dad said I was living in a world divorced from reality. Presumably both of them were thinking, "Who in their right mind would want to give up security in life for something that they have no idea how it's going to work out, except through faith in this 'God'?"
It's a very good question.
I would really, really appreciate prayers right about now, if you haven't already been praying. If you have, thank you very much, but please keep doing so.
As Christians, we're called on all the time from the pulpit to get out of our comfort zone and work with God. I just didn't think I'd be one to take those words to heart.
If you read this far, thank you.
[edit: I'm making all my posts on this subject public, with the exception of the last post (containing the chat log) until I receive permission (or not, as the case may be) to do so from Selah.]
[edit 2: Selah gave permission, so here it is.]