We also attended revivals once or twice a year, sometimes in a large tent. I remember Brother Burns in particular, one of our visiting evangelists. He was a hell fire and brimstone, fist-raising, slobber-slinging preacher who scared the living daylights out of me. We were all going to hell from what I could tell. Every single one of us had terrible sinful thoughts, God knew what they were because he could read your dirty, filthy mind, and we were all doomed. Doooomed.
One thing I figured out early, though, was that you sure didn't want to get "God's calling". My word, it was something you couldn't anticipate or guard yourself against. It was something that just came out of nowhere and boom! You had been called by God to do something - and most likely, it was something you didn't want to do.
So as a child I came up with a plan. Best I could tell, I needed to find a safe zone where I could stay out of eternal fire - and not have to go to Africa as a missionary, either. Those poor folks always looked tired and wore hand-me-down clothes that looked like they had gone out of style years ago. For sure, it was safer not to make eye contact with God, lest he see you and then call you to do something awful.
This plan worked pretty well until I was in my forties. I felt pretty sure God hadn't really noticed me, but I trusted him not to turn me away when I showed up at the pearly gates. Yep, I was a C-student Christian. Just enough to get by and I was in the safe zone.
Then the day came when God did call me. I knew, without a doubt, that he was asking me to put Blue Monarch together, just as he had revealed to me in a powerful dream years before. You've got to be kidding me. Despite all my efforts to fly under the radar, he found me anyway. Crap.
Clearly there had been a terrible mistake. I couldn't imagine, with all my mediocre spirituality, that he would ask me to put together a ministry like Blue Monarch. What was he thinking? My word, I hadn't even been to church in almost seven years. Surely lots of people must have turned him down, which was not a good sign.
Truth is, I felt enormously unworthy. Unequipped. Unqualified. And pretty scared. In fact, I cried about it for three whole days (my version of the belly of the fish) because I felt so totally incapable of such a mission - or yes, calling. I was really struggling. "Why me, Lord, why me? Please, no."
That's when Mary Susan, my seventeen-year-old daughter who had always been light years ahead of me spiritually, said something that changed everything. She said, "Mommy, you can tell God no. He won't love you any less than if you said yes." Really?
Well, this changed everything. I thought, how could I say no to a God like that?
So I gave up the struggle, prayed my heart out, cried with overwhelming humility, took an enormous leap of faith, and accepted his call - with one condition: that I would never, ever have to speak in public. (Two weeks later I was in front of a Rotary Club and thought I would die.)
Many times I have thought about what I would have missed if I had said no and gone my own way. Just this past week was a great example.
I saw a woman, who was addicted and living under a bridge just a year ago, burst into tears when she learned she had passed her high school equivalency exams and would be able to attend college.
I saw another woman, who never thought she'd have her precious son again, regain custody of him and weep with joy.
Truth is, the life I could have chosen for myself, would have fallen way short of what God allowed me to experience "from my front row seat" at the greatest show on earth. I see his miracles every single day in the lives of the courageous women and children we serve. And I see his mighty hand in the way he provides for our ministry because he loves them so much. His calling was not something to run from - it was a beautiful, beautiful gift! A privilege, and an honor.
This issue of God's calling has been on my mind a lot lately because of something my preacher said recently. We were studying the book of Jonah (with whom I can relate...) and he said, "Some callings are not transferable. Some things God will not get someone else to do."
Of course my first thought was, how do you know that, Pastor Frank? But it did cause me to start thinking back on God's calling for my own life. I think I always took great comfort in thinking that if I had turned God down he would have simply gone to the next name on the list. But what if there wasn't a next name on the list? What if that calling was not transferable? In Romans 11:29 it says, "for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."
God's call on my life made no sense to me at the time. But it does now. You see, I think I fit the job description perfectly. God has shown us over and over that he loves to call the unworthy, the unequipped, and the unqualified - and I happened to be all three. But the truth is, the only real qualification...is your answer. Yes.
"God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called." Henry T. Blackaby
Side note: Through the years, as I have told the story of Blue Monarch to many groups, it's often that individuals will come to me in tears afterwards and describe how they feel God wants them to do something but they are struggling with their decision. (They are in the belly of the fish.) If you are one of those, I'm afraid you're missing out on some tremendous blessings. Try saying yes.