Monday, November 11, 2013

Damascus... er, Muncie... Road

Thirty-three years ago, I was riding my motorcycle (a '76 Gold Wing, if that matters to anyone) on Indiana State Highway 3. I was a student at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) in Indianapolis, near the end of my third year. I was student-pastor of the Springport Christian Church. I was returning from a hospital visit in Muncie.

Mine looked just like this one.
Picture from "Naked Gold Wings Club."
About a mile from the turn-off to Springport, I topped a hill overlooking farmland and forest, where one of the church members let me hunt. Suddenly, the bike's radio turned on. Strange, though, because I heard it in my helmet. Back in those days, a motorcycle radio was hung under the windshield, and there was no connection between it and the helmet. Unless you were rich. Which I certainly was not. So it wasn't the radio, but a whole other source. I brought that Wing to a halt!

This was my "Damascus Road Experience." If you're not familiar with that road, let me make reference for you. A young Jewish Pharisee named Saul was big on the literal law that kept people in line. He didn't care at all about the people themselves. His mission was to hunt down them Jesus people and get rid of'em, any way he could. Well, Saul was riding his horse on his way to Damascus, intent on having a big mass arrest, followed by a big mass execution.

"Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'
'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked.
'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'" (Acts 9.1-6)

Standing on the edge of the shoulder, I was trying to figure out what I was hearing in the helmet-- then in my ears once the helmet was off! I was hearing the Lord's voice. I don't think anybody else would have heard it, if they were with me. "You are finished at Springport and at CTS. Anderson will accept you. You are to be an evangelist more than a pastor."

And that was it. The gracious difference between my experience and Saul's was that I was not blinded and knocked off my steed. At 60 miles per hour.

That night, and the next two nights, I had a dream about it, telling me (by events, not dates) when the calling would truly come to life. In the meantime, I was to serve Him, however life would take me. Within two weeks, I was fired by the Springport church, because CTS told them that I had failed. Then I applied at the Church of God seminary in Anderson IN, and was accepted. I excelled there, but the falling economy pushed me elsewhere.

I accepted the call to ministry 36 years ago. After three years, the call was clarified on the road. I finished seminary (Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary) and was ordained. I was a pastor for 18 years. Then for 18 years I worked in regular-world jobs, serving the Lord however I could. My wife and I founded a world ministry for widows, still in its early stages. Then those events I had dreamed about? They happened.

This is long enough for today. Details in following articles. For now let's just say that God never forgets, and time belongs to Him. Ultimately, when we wonder what's going on, the best thing to do is "get up..., and you will be told what you must do."

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