A decision on a rooftop – So in 1983 I graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary up near Boston but was clueless as to what avenue of ministry to pursue. So Linda and I moved back to Raleigh and plugged into our home church, Providence Baptist, to wait on a clear sense of calling. A friend of mine gave me a job roofing houses, we were volunteering with Providence’s youth ministry, and we were trying to be patient as we waited for direction from God. It was on top of a roof one day that I sensed God calling me to student ministry. (He used my fierce dislike for being way up in the air in 90+ degree weather to make this clear to me). I approached our pastor about this. We began an internship at the church to seek confirmation. And I ended up spending 22 years as a youth pastor. I look back on that rooftop decision and realize that sometimes God will put us in places we don’t really want to be to get us ready for places that He does want us to be. I loved being a youth pastor and now I have the bonus skill of knowing how to roof a house.
March 3, 1986; October 27, 1987; August 22, 1990 – Yep, you guessed right – those are the days that my kids were born. VERY defining moments. It’s one thing to have your life changed by marriage and still another thing to have it changed by becoming a parent. Our kids are basically all grown up now. They make all their own choices and decisions now but allow us the opportunity to partially subsidize their lifestyle (not true for the married daughter). I am an incredibly blessed dad who has watched my kids grow into wonderful God-seeking young adults. Christy, Scott, Tucker – thanks for helping to define my life. You are each a treasure to me and you are very very loved.
A 10 day fast – In the Fall of 1998 I was in a spiritual stupor. I knew that I needed to do something to get back on track with God. I decided to do something I had never done before – fast for an extended period of time and use the time to seek God. I fasted from food and television for 10 days. My only nutrition was vegetable juice to keep from dehydrating. I spent 2 days at a retreat center just reading, thinking, and praying. It was during this time that I got introduced to the writing of John Piper. That week I read his book A Hunger For God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer. His writing has probably influenced me more than anyone’s over the last 20 years. Especially his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Highly recommended if you want a book that will challenge your thinking and feed your soul. My soul was fed during my time of fasting and I got back on track with God. By the way, it was only the first 3 days of the fast that were tough. The hunger went away after that but the habit of eating remained. It was the habit that I had to fight against.
June 14, 2008 – To some extent this was more of a BIG day than a defining moment but I can also make a case otherwise. This was the day that my daughter Christy got married to Chad Ferrell. This was also the day that I turned 50 years old. I joke and tell people that I threw myself a huge party for my birthday – inviting hundreds of guests to come and celebrate with me. But really the day was about Christy and Chad. And it was a great day. It was defining in the sense that the dynamics of our family changed on that day. In a good way. It was also defining in the sense that I was now eligible for AARP. This meant that I was officially classified as old. 50 was always the number that I defined as old. Not 40. Not 30. But 50. It was also the age that I had prayed that God would allow me to live to be. I started praying that prayer about 20 years ago. I called it my Hezekiah prayer. You see my dad had died when I was 13. I very much wanted to be around to influence my kids until they were grown and making their own decisions about life. 50 years old was the magic number. This was when Tucker, my youngest, turned 18, graduated high school and went off to college. My influence on their lives at this point was now going to be very diminished as they were all on their own and living away from home. So God answered my prayer and for that I am very very grateful. It doesn’t mean I don’t want more years to see my kids grow older and be around potential grandkids but it does mean that I have seen the faithfulness of God in my life and I am a extremely thankful. I am a blessed man!
I have no idea what defining moments wait for me in the future but I am excited about watching what God is up to and am thrilled to be a part of the great adventure of following Him. Whether I live to be 90 or die tomorrow I intend to live out my days serving the God who has rescued me, redeemed me, and entrusted me with a wonderful family, a great church, and a life worth living.