The Hound of Heaven
50 years ago, this past Sunday, God called me into ministry. I have never been able to fully convey my experience. My friend, Mike Higgs, and I were standing at the front porch of the church (Toone Baptist Church). Something like a dark cloud descended on my mind-it’s the only way I can explain it. I was really worked up, which as a 17 year old I never did.
I looked at Mike and said, I think God is calling me into ministry. It was the weirdest thing for me to say. I never considered it and I did not want to be a pastor. I wanted to be a doctor.
It happened just before the evening service and our pastor was out of town. We had two men from Union University, Jim Parker and Bobby Campbell one spoke in the morning and the other in the evening. I talked to them after church and both were very encouraging. I made it public the following Sunday.
It took me awhile to surrender to the call. I was a bit like Jonah, running in the opposite direction. But if you are familiar with the Poem, The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson, you know that God tirelessly pursues you until you surrender and he captures you. It took until we married in 1976 for me to settle down and pursue my calling. At that time I also had an intellectual awaking and I began to understand things and my grades went up. This is what a good wife does for you!
My call kept me from quitting many times. I tell young men if you can do anything else, do it. But if the Hound of Heaven pursues you, you have no choice but answer the call. You will be abused and betrayed in ways you could never imagine. Your whole ministry may be like Jeremiah, who cried out the Word of God, yet he never gained a convert. You do not go into pastoral ministry to be successful. You do it because one day God relentlessly called you and you must answer the call.