Having trusted God to reveal His will for my life on His own terms, I felt free to resume my own plans. I envisioned going to law school, making a lot of money, giving a lot to missions, and being very active in a local church. God needs dedicated lay people to keep the church going. Life could be great.
The following week some Lee students were conducting a revival at a church in Chattanooga. On Monday I decided to drive down and support the cause. I arrived just as the service was beginning and had no time to talk with anyone. I sat by myself on the right hand side, six or eight rows from the front. There was no one seated close to me. The choir was singing when I heard the voice of God, “Now is the time; go preach my Word.” I knew it was God. The words were, for me, audible, spoken into my right ear. It was so real; I knew no one was near me but I instinctively turned to my right to see if I saw anything. I didn’t.
I was seated and outwardly non-responsive. I prayed a silent prayer. “Thank you Father. I know you have just now called me to preach. But You know me and You know the Devil. Tomorrow he will try to make me doubt it. Can You give me something so I will never doubt you have called me to preach?”
I then witnessed something I have never seen before or since. There was a message in tongues and interpretation that interrupted the choir. Right in the middle of the interpretation were these words, “I have called you into this ministry; Go preach my Word to your people.” I don’t know what else was in the interpretation, but the congregation was shouting the victory. I was overflowing with joy but outwardly sedate.
I prayed another silent prayer, “Thank you Lord, I will never doubt You have called me to preach, but if I am going to preach I will need a burden and an anointing. Will you give me a burden and an anointing?” There was another message in tongues and interpretation. In the middle of the interpretation were these words, “If you will take up the burden, I will anoint you.” I wasn’t expecting Him to put that ball back in my court. A heavy sense of responsibility settled in on me.
I left that service with questions bouncing through my head. Who are my “people?” How does one “take up a burden?” I am not certain I have fully answered those questions. I resolved a few years into this that “my people” are whoever I am with at the time, i.e., the people of the community where I live. The “burden” part is a little more elusive; I know it requires looking closely at the needs of others and time in prayer about those needs.
I also left that service with an unwavering knowledge of God’s call on my life. That certainty has been an anchor in times of storm. There have been seasons when I have doubted myself, my abilities, my faithfulness, but I have never doubted my call. I must preach the Word of God. I am not a great preacher; I try hard to be a faithful one. I love God; I love the Word of God; I love people. My desire is to honor the integrity of each and bring God and the people together in the Word. I feel God’s pleasure and presence when I preach. From this I draw strength to press through the challenges of life. I thank God for my call to preach.
January 16, 2010