13 Years In The Call

It was the end of the Jesus First meeting at Middle Tennessee Baptist Church November 9, 2008. The service had been saturated with the manifestation of the the Lord. Pastor Tony Hutson sounded the alarm, “It’s Preaching Time!” He called the late great brother Roger Henson to the stand to bring the message for the night. As the battle scarred warrior of the Word made his way to the pulpit he began to shuffle pages in his King James bible, comment on the hospitality of the church and the sweet presence of the Lord thus far. Then he paused, closed his bible and turned to say, “Preacher, I’m not sure what is supposed to happen but I’m not supposed to preach right now. Somebody else needs to do something.” He seated himself on the platform pew in perfect peace and waited to see what would happen next. Bro Tony called the pianist to the platform and called for a song. “Alright, we are going to give whoever it is the opportunity to obey the Lord.” The Holy Spirit of God climbed on top of my shoulder and shouted in my ear, “IT’S YOU! IT’S TIME!”

Since late December of 1994 I had been running away from the call to preach, all the while justifying my activity in gospel music as an honorable exercise of my talents and abilities in the service of the Lord. Good works but completely against the perfect will of God. His permissive will had allowed me go my selfish disobedient way, keep me safe, give me a bride and children, as He set my barley fields on fire, dismantled my childhood dreams, and kept my life in a perpetual state of turmoil hidden behind a placid persona of false peace. INDEED, IT WAS TIME. My running shoes were worn out, my spirit was spent, my excuses were exhausted, my facade was failing. I gathered my bride from the nursery and approached the altar where bro Tony met me.

“It’s me. I believe the Lord is calling me to preach.” “I thought so!” he said. Bro Tony called me to the pulpit and advised the audience that I had something to say. As I blubbered out my official surrender, bro Ken Elkins sitting on the front row not so quietly agreed, “It’s about time.” Though many offered their inclinations to the same effect that night, none of them had so much as hinted at my possible call. They allowed the Lord to do the work in me.

Bro Henson came to me after everything had settled down and asked me how all this had come about. As I explained the chain of events he asked me how old I was. 36. He said, “Don’t ever feel like you are behind. God has you right on time. Always be yourself. Don’t try to be just like any other preacher. God will make you the preacher He wants you to be.” I have pondered upon that wisdom all of my preaching life. And though I ran like I knew what I wanted for almost 14 years, I have known peace in the midst of the hardest trials of my life knowing that not only is God in control, I am under His control. In all humility, I bless the Lord for the call to preach.