“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.” – Jeremiah 1:5 MSG
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.” – Psalm 139:13-16 MSG
“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10
The noise of the over-sized box fans was overwhelmed by “We Exalt Thee” being played over the loudspeakers by the worship band. Monday had been a night for re-dedication, Tuesday for Baptism in the Holy Spirit, but tonight. . . Wednesday night was focused on calling, on service, on what we, as 11 and 12-year-olds, would “do” for God. I felt a strong urge, stronger than I had ever felt, to go forward to that physical place at the front of the meeting hall of both sacrifice and commitment. It wasn’t the speaker’s influence but rather something very external turned incredibly internal. In that moment I felt a gentle, yet powerful nudge by my loving Father to be one of the first, lead by example, and approach the six-foot-tall stage in that open camp pavilion – full intentions unknown.
Unlike the previous two nights, there were no counselors urging, helping, encouraging, praying. It was just me and God. . . But now that I think about it there might have been camp counselors, pastors, priests, popes there! I simply do not remember. All I know is that in that time, in that hot Georgia, mid-June, summer-camp night when all I seemingly cared about was our cabin winning the team award for the week, I was simply rocked by God. And it only took five quiet and simple words – “You work for me now” – none of them more than four letters; the Speaker more powerful than the spoken. Even as I sit here and type those unassuming words, I become emotional. They have taken on so many different facets over the years, but it all started at that Assemblies of God camp in Forsyth, GA almost 30 years ago.
The following is not written this as a success or failure story, but rather as a continuing journey through life one experience at a time. In my life, I haven’t been overtly successful. I have had successes, but I have also had terrible failures. What matters is those five words. That is the litmus test for everything that I do. It seems really simple – it seemed really simple at the time. It seemed as though, when that 12 year old boy heard God speaking, the path was set – a path of lifetime dedication in the local church to a profession of pastor.