I was seven years old when I heard Bruce Porterfield speak at Pinehurst Bible Church in Pinehurst Idaho. Bruce was a young, strapping missionary in South America with New Tribes Mission and he had been invited to speak during Missions Week at the church. I remember listening with rapt attention as Bruce described the hardship and danger of taking the gospel to primitive tribes deep within the South American jungles. It was a special day for me because it was the day that I first sensed a call to the preaching ministry.
My parents had been married in the Pinehurst Bible Church a decade prior to my being there to hear Bruce speak. Mom and Dad were not Christians when they were married but my Grandmother (Dad’s mother) was – and she prayed daily for the salvation of her children and their spouses. Her prayers on behalf of my family were answered when my folks were in their early thirties. In fact, my parents, my sister and I were all born again the same week. I was six years old at the time.
As the years passed the excitement of that day when I heard Bruce Porterfield speak began to fade. I didn’t really understand the call to ministry anyway as a youngster and so it was easy to get caught up in the typical activities common to childhood and youth. By the time I was in high school my life revolved around sports and the arts. I gave little thought to the future and rarely gave a call to preaching ministry serious consideration.
By the time I was in my late twenties I was married to a beautiful woman, had four children, owned a moderately successful insurance agency and was tied to a mortgage payment on a five acre homestead (and a goat or two). In the eyes of the world I had it made. Yet, I was not at rest – and I knew why.
God had placed a call on my life and He was not going to relinquish that call. Over the years he reminded me of that purpose through the Word, the witness of other Christians and a stirring in my heart I could not ignore. Finally, against strong winds to the contrary, I sold my agency and house and moved my family to Denver Colorado in answer to a call from Mountain View Community Reformed Church.
In the ensuing twenty years, we have experienced our share of ups and downs. One thing I quickly found is that there are people who call themselves Christians who make it their mission in life to attack pastors and their families. At times I wonder why I left an industry wherein I was the respected expert in order to labor in a position open to ridicule from anyone with an axe to grind – theologically astute or not. Nonetheless, it is only in the pursuit of the call on my life that I find rest.
This is true for every believer. You may not be called to a preaching or pastoral ministry, but called you are. Sometimes (often times?), your calling will be different than your vocation but every member of God’s family has a job to do and until you do that job, you will not be at rest. You may know from childhood what your calling is. On the other hand, it may take years for you to understand what God has called you to do; that’s okay. Use those years to prepare. Study the word, be constant in prayer, serve where you are needed and be ready to join the Lord where He is at work when He calls.