The drop in centre closed in November 2010 and in the following months I spent much time seeking God for his future plans for my life. Once again I found myself in the position where I had to be still and wait on God. I had been there before and did not find it easy, I thought that it would be easier waiting this time round but it was not. As I said before, I am a doer by nature and God will often allow us to experience things again and again until we have been taught whatever lesson he wants to teach us.
One Sunday morning during church I felt particularly restless in my heart. I found myself questioning God as to why he had seemingly not answered my prayers concerning letting me know his future plans for my life. The Pastor was talking about the Lord sending Samuel to find the man who he had chosen to replace King Saul. Samuel was a powerful and faithful prophet of the Lord but he too still had lessons to learn in life.
When Samuel saw Eliab he thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord”. (1 Samuel 16:6-7). Samuel was basing his choice on what he saw in the physical appearance of Eliab, he looked the part as far as Samuel was concerned but the Lord was about to show Samuel that he is not impressed by outward appearances. The Lord told Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.
The future King was out in the fields working in obscurity, out of the lime light and looking after sheep. Humanly speaking he was off the radar but he was not of God’s radar. The Pastor went on to say that when God has a work planned for your life it does not matter where you are or what you are doing, he knows exactly where to find you when the time is right. He said that we don’t need to jump up and down to try and get the Lords attention; he sees exactly where we are and he knows exactly what we are doing.
That was the word that I needed to hear and God re-affirmed to me that delay is not denial, the fact that I could not see him working did not mean that he was not planning and working out my future. Seven or eight months after this I received a call on a Thursday from one of the board members of my previous church, he was a little desperate as he had found out that the person who was to speak in his church that Sunday was in Florida on holidays.
He was very honest and told me that he had tried everyone on a list of speakers that he had but due to the short notice none of them were available to help and I was not on his original list. He told me that another Pastor who he had contacted gave him my name because I had spoken recently at his church. When we moved on from the church we did not relinquish our membership and we had not become members of the new church that we had been attending for four and a half years. I agreed to come and take the morning and evening services.
I can honestly say that when my wife and I went back to the church there was no feeling of awkwardness or anything negative. It was good to renew old acquaintances and friendships that had been formed over thirty years. I mentioned earlier that when we left the church we did so very quietly and there was no animosity between us and the church. I found out that the Pastor of the church had moved on and the church was actively looking for a new Pastor. At this point I had no inclination of what would transpire a few months later.
A few weeks later the church contacted me again and asked if I could help out with some preaching dates and I gladly accepted. Even though I had been told twice over a two year period by two people who had no contact with each other that I would one day become the Pastor of the Lurgan Nazarene church I still had no real belief that it would actually come to pass. When I went to preach my belief was that I was just helping the church out until they found a replacement for the Pastor who had moved on.
Some may think that I must have had some sense of what God was doing but the truth is I did not at that time. I would say that I felt that way because I did not believe that I was qualified to become a Pastor of any church never mind the church that I had grown up in from the age of sixteen. I still carried with me the feelings of inadequacy, low self worth and low self esteem from my teenage years. I believed that I was just helping out the church until they found the right person.
Towards the end of the summer the church asked me if I would block book the whole month of October and preach for them which I did. I knew that there were people coming to preach with a view to a call but I still did not believe that I was one of those people being considered for the Position of Pastor. It was not until nearly the end of October that the church asked me if I would consider coming back to the church as their Pastor.
It was then that I began to take the two dreams seriously. I was genuinely surprised and shocked that the church would deem me suitable to be their new Pastor. I was trying to figure out in my mind how this could possibly be happening to me now. When I was in my late teens I was willing to go to college and study to become a Pastor but I was fifty two now and could not see how things could work out. I had lots of questions in my mind but very few if any answers.
I talked things over with my wife, my Pastor and trusted friends and the Lord of course and the feeling was that God had been preparing my life for ministry for over thirty years. It was not the conventional method of preparation for full time ministry but God does things his way and not our way. The Lord reminded me of the story in Samuel where he thought someone was suitable to fill a position but the Lord told him in effect that he was using the wrong criteria to make his choice. He was acting on what his visible sight was telling him but God was looking into the heart and acting on what he found there. In 1 Samuel 13:14 we read Samuel stating that, “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart”. It turned out that man was young David the shepherd boy. I doubt if David envisaged the day that he would stop being the shepherd of sheep and instead would become the King of Israel.
As I prayed to the Lord and reflected over the experiences that I had encountered in my life up till that time I believed that this call was of God and whatever lay ahead he would be with me to lead me and guide me. If I had not believed that whole heartedly I would not have accepted the call to be the Pastor of the Lurgan church of the Nazarene.