More from Sharon Capron
I have been a goal-setter all my life. As a ten-year-old, I made learning how to ride a bicycle and how to crochet my two goals to be accomplished by the end of summer. Both interests continue to be significant in my life. Many of my goals have been met and forgotten; a few others never completed. The discipline of setting a goal, working out a plan, and celebrating success has enriched my life immeasurably.
At 17, I experienced an unmistakable call to ministry, but my parents were adamantly opposed to such a future. Father said I could go to the state college or stay at home and wait tables. Mother said I could study to be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary—the only occupations she considered appropriate for a woman. At the time, the legal age of adulthood was 21. That night I cried and prayed to God. In the fall, I entered the state university, eventually became a teacher, married, and raised a family.
The spring our youngest graduated from college, my husband and I attended the Oklahoma United Methodist Annual Conference. There, as we viewed the divinity schools’ displays, my heart grieved deeply once again. I knew I had missed my calling, and I thought I was too old to go back to school. Even if I was successful in graduate school, I would receive my first social security check before I could be ordained! My husband’s instant response was, “And how old will you be if you do not go back to school?” That day, I revived and revised my old goal. I was determined to finish the several-years-long path to ordination in time to serve a full decade in the Lord’s work before reaching the obligatory retirement age of 72. Within the next week, I began the process, enrolled in seminary the following spring, and was ordained a United Methodist deacon in 2008.
My work as a deacon is everything I ever hoped it to be. I preach at the prison twice a month and facilitate a weekly sign language class there. Last May, I rode my bicycle a hundred miles in one day to raise funds for a new prison chapel, and our church collected well over our goal of $5000. I visit homebound folks every week and enjoy many mutually delightful and meaningful conversations. I lead the children in worship and teach them sign language at our midweek program during the school year and am refreshed by their youth, energy, and faith. I know I served God when I was a teacher, but what joy it has been these last few years to serve as the Lord intended. Life has never been so good. I thank God for the wonderful husband given me, the joy of a second chance, and the health to take it.
Next May at Annual Conference, I will be 72 and retiring, having completed exactly ten years of full time service. While my formal retirement will meet the church’s requirements, my ordained deacon status remains, and I am at liberty, as I am willing and able, to continue the same work. Of course, I still regularly ride my bicycle and crochet afghans for my grandchildren and their babies! It is never too late to change the course of your life and serve as called. We serve an awesome God.
- Sharon Capron