Part 1: Never Say Never . . .
"Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own it is not for them to direct their steps."
I've been preaching a series over the last several weeks on God's Guidance. Seeking God's Guidance. Trusting God's Guidance. Testing God's Guidance. You get the idea. But it has me thinking a lot about this topic obviously.
I'm new to preaching. I've been at it about eighteen months in total. I started on Sunday mornings once a quarter and "as needed" when our senior pastor was out of town. The church approved for me to start a mid-week service, and I deliver a message every Wednesday night at what we call "The ReCharge." We've been doing that weekly service for about nine months now. Coming up soon, I'm going to be providing a Sunday message for a Chinese church ministry each month--this church wants to have one message in English each month. I'm looking forward to that!
I got the call to ministry late. About the time I was contemplating retiring from my professional career, the call came loud and clear, and off I went to seminary--that was about three years ago. The call was clear enough, but the destination was not clear at all, and still isn't very clear.
Instinctively we all know what our gifts are. I thought my ministry would revolve around those gifts that I have that I know about--organization, management, music, writing. I had no desire to explore pastoral ministry. There was one big hurdle there. I have (or I guess I should say had) a debilitating fear of public speaking.
I've avoided public speaking my entire life, and when I've been unable to avoid it those occasions hadn't gone very well. I was often physically ill prior (including on my wedding day when all I had to do was say "I do"). And my public speaking no matter how well I prepared was never stellar. My hands would shake. I'd sweat profusely. I'd fumble over my notes, or lose where I was. As time went on, I found ways to hide my nervousness and get through it, but it was always an ordeal for me.
So when my pastor and mentor suggested I at least keep the door open to pastoral ministry, I polite nodded but didn't really think that was an option. I couldn't imagine going through that ordeal every week!
When we let God guide our lives, it often leads us in unexpected directions. Sometimes it will take us places that make us uncomfortable. Often we'll resist thinking we know better where we should go. But we don't. God has a plan for all of us. Sometimes it has everything to do with the gifts He's given us, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it involves discovering something about yourself that He knew and you didn't.
Next week, I'll tell you the rest of this story . . .