Even though I have not been a full-time paid Christian minister for some years now by choice, over the next few Fridays I would like to tell you of some of my experiences beginning with God calling me to preach the Gospel. Although the person I’m writing about is me, the subject is our great God and how He has led my life in a way that myself, nor any script writer ever would, or could.
In 1974, I was a regular 22 year old guy already married with 2 young children. We were living like the average young bunch at the time. I was earning a living as a machinist at my dad’s automotive machine shop. One of my grandfathers, as well as my dad, had always owned and made their main living in the automobile engine rebuilding business. I followed in their footsteps starting at a very young age (5) sweeping the shop floors; eventually becoming a machinist and then running the shop.
At the time, we were regular church members where I was involved in teaching a Sunday school class for older elementary school age children. Beyond that my life was a normal one.
There was a particular service in that year that I sensed God dealing with me to preach the Gospel. At first I thought I was mistaken and didn’t mention it to a soul. But the feeling continued as I prayed about it secretly to The Lord. I read my Bible regularly, but to preach a sermon to mature adult Christians had never entered my mind. Honestly, I felt like Moses must have. I suffered the thoughts of Moses in Exodus 4:10-12:
“But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
I heeded God’s call because I could not run from Him any longer. I didn’t want to end up like a Jonah. At the time of my surrender there were only a few weeks before the Fall courses were starting in preparation for future ministry. I quit my job, we packed the Uhaul truck and off we moved. We had enough money to move 2 States away, rent a small house, and maybe have an extra $100 left over. By faith we heeded God’s call.
Over the next 4 years I studied all of the “ologies”, English, Greek, hermeneutics, psychology, counseling, administration courses, homiletics, you get the idea. The least course hours per semester I took during these years was 18. My last semester I took 21 hours. I went to Summer school every year as well to study extra subjects that weren’t offered in the normal college curriculum. This was done so that I could be as best prepared as possible.
All of this was done while supporting my family with a full-time 40 hour week as a machinist most of the time while there. God provided the strength and resources for this all to be able to occur. To fit the hours all in I worked the 11pm – 7am shift so I had the day free for the studies I was immersed in.
Looking back, these years formed me into a large part of the man I am today. They may not have been easy, in fact they were far from it; but God taught me endurance, faith, trust, dependence, and dedication to Him. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
During the years of study God prepared me and removed the fears that initially I had. As with Moses The Lord God prepared the way for me.
The date was July 1, 1979; a hot Summer night in Texas when I was ordained into the Gospel ministry. It was a night that I will hopefully never forget. The service was a special ordination ceremony. Hands were laid on me, special words of encouragement and exhortation were spoken by elders, prayers were prayed for God’s blessings and power to be in my life as a proclaimer of the Good News of Jesus Christ. A special Bible was presented to me at that time. I still retain this Bible in the original box that I’ve never used to keep as a reminder.
Through these seemingly difficult years The Lord God proved to me that He alone is the great Sustainer. When He calls, He also provides. My faith in Him was not questioned. My minute Red Sea experience proved God faithful. He provided for me to walk through it on dry ground in what appeared to be insurmountable circumstances.
Our God is more than able. He is mighty. He provides for His own in ways we would never dream of. And I’m not speaking just of physical needs.
I’ll continue on with some of the chain of events, Lord willing, next Friday
By His Grace alone,