I’ve always known that God had a plan for my life. I have memories of striking deals with God while walking to primary school. On a very childish level I’d bargain with God; “If two red cars come together, I’ll be a minister when I grow up”. “If two buses come together, I’ll be a missionary”; “If three green cars come, I’ll go to Africa”. I would walk to school almost every day making these weird promises I could never keep, yet even then in my heart was this sincere desire to do whatever God wanted me to do.
I would attend careers interviews at secondary school and wonder what to say as I knew I would work for the church and all the careers teacher could offer me was either working at the Robinson’s Jam factory or Christie s Towels (two renowned manufacturing industries based in my back yard). Neither of the above offered any real prospects or held any interest whatsoever and so I would just humour her and leave feeling I had ticked that box.
People talk about calling, a call to ministry, a call to serve God. For me it was a growing awareness that this is what I would do; almost a growing into it, becoming comfortable with the fact that this was my destiny. So I got involved with things that would help me fulfil my vocation, and found myself teaching Sunday school at 15, preaching at other churches by 17 and taking on local church leadership by 18. Everyone who knew me predicted that I would be involved in the ministry. Some saw me as “too Holy”, and my future husband was warned off me because I was deemed as such.
Although it was a simply growing awareness that full time ministry was my future, there was one defining moment that I have often looked back on for reassurance; a moment when I truly encountered God and felt His Spirit and calling. It was during a production of a Christian Musical, very professionally directed and produced at the Renold Theatre in Manchester. I was not on stage at the time, but waiting in the wings for my next cue (I was only a bit part!). Those on stage were singing:
Not for myself, not the the sake of any man;
Myself, not Him, will I deny;
I’ll come; I’ll go, I’ll live; I’ll die – for Jesus sake.
In that moment time stood still, as I knew that God had placed his hand on me and I could do nothing more than obey.
There have been many days when I have wanted to be “normal”; when I have craved a 9 to 5 job; that at the end of the day you close the door and that’s it. A job where I could be seen as just Alison and not the Salvation Army officer/Baptist minister; but just me! And yet God chose just me years before I realised the implications of His choice and has used “just me” for His Kingdom sake – what an honour! In recent days I have shared the excitement of one of my church members realise his call to ministry, and its amazing to see how in the ordinary things if life, through everyday events and the most unusual choice of people, God continues to confirm his call for women and men to take up their cross and follow Him on what really is the greatest adventure of all.
Thank You Father for the joy and privilege of fulfilling your good, pleasing and perfect will – even when it doesn’t seem that good, I am not very pleased, and nothing really seems that perfect! Thank you Father that you always see the bigger picture.
Jesus – during this Lenten season – remind me that you had me in mind when you sorted out the universe, and that my gifts, skills, personality and talents are part of your amazing plan for the salvation of creation.
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!