Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Funny How God Works

This Saturday night, April Fools Day, is the Bob Nelson comedy show at the Little River high school gym. Free tickets are available by request at Congregational Church website.

God works in funny ways. How I became a pastor illustrates the point.

Back in the late 80’s I lived in Athens, Ohio. I was a happy Christian, happy to serve the Lord. I worked as “salt” and “light” in a music store. I taught junior high Sunday School. A friend and me hosted a Christian rock show on a local radio station.

But apparently, God didn’t think that was enough.

One late summer, my church was holding its annual revival, which usually meant just going to extra church services. This particular year’s revival speaker was a man from South Carolina. He had a deep voice and an unmistakable southern accent.

On the revival’s last evening, Tuesday, the preacher stood up and gave the shortest sermon I’ve ever heard: “Tonight, I really don’t have much to say. But I do have two questions for you. Do you love Jesus? If so, will you do what he says?”

That was literally all he said. But that was enough.

If I ever heard the audible voice of THE LORD, it was that night. The message was clear. I was to go to seminary. I went to the front of the church, kneeled at the altar, and cried like a baby.

Went I got home, I called my Aunite Ann, a charismatic lady and the most outspoken believer in my extended family. I said to her, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that God called me seminary.” Auntie said, “Praise the Lord! That’s wonderful! What’s the bad news?” I replied, “The bad news is I don’t want to go.”

What Auntie said next I’ve never forgotten: “But Ted, you know you don’t have a choice. You have to go.”

For the next year, I tried to convince God that He called the wrong guy. But stubborn God, He didn’t change his mind. On the outside, I continued with the same activities—work, Sunday School, and radio show. But on the inside, I was angry and bitter that God had ordered my world turned upside down.

During this time, my Sunday routine was this: I did my radio show from 3:00am-6:00am. At home, I’d sleep from 6:30-8:30am. I taught junior high Sunday School at 9:30am. Worshipped at 10:30 am. Opened the music store fro my employees at noon. Went home and slept till 4:30pm. Closed the store at 5:00pm. Went back home and slept. Woke up, ate, and watched the following three shows back-to-back: America’s Most Wanted, The Simpsons, and Charles Stanley’s “In Touch.”

On this particular night, Rev. Stanley talked about procrastination. If you’ve seen him, you know how he likes to wag his finger at the TV. He said, “Some of you are procrastinating and not doing what God has called you to do.”

I was cornered.

A few months later, I enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was pretty mad at God for the next couple of years—pulling me out of a situation I enjoyed so much in Ohio. But meeting my wife had a way of changing my attitude.

The rest, they say, is history. But it’s funny how history gets made.

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