9. Calling

To know God’s will in my life has been the hardest, yet ironically, one the most exciting parts of the journey of life. (Leaving marriage aside for the moment.) As far as vocation is concerned the pull between pastor and teacher has been relentless. Both seem to have a claim on my life.

In my early teenage years many people urged me to study to be a minister. Somehow, with the theological college so close this didn’t seem exciting or appealing enough. A few years later my pastor encouraged me to get involved in Christian education. This was the option I pursued via a stint with the education department.

In the meantime, as a part of a group of similarly minded Christians, we set up the Geelong Association for Parent Controlled Christian Education – an association of people who believed that parents had the responsibility to train their children  upon the foundation of Scripture.

In my third year of teaching in the state system I was forced to teach a course called MACOS – “Man a Course of Study” which was based on an evolutionary view of man. It forced me to chose a new direction. In August of 1976 I applied for a position at Calvin School at Tasmania. I was accepted and commenced teaching there at the start of 1977.

However, while teaching in Tasmania there was still this lurking suspicion that I had disobeyed and that God really wanted me to study for the ministry. During the third year in Tasmania the sense of call was so strong I applied to enter the RTC. I was accepted and my studies started in 1980. It was a tough time having to look after a family of three as well as study full time. I came to realise how little I knew about the Bible, despite having been taught consistently and well as a young person in the church. There was so much to know and understand.

Stories from the ministry days:

My first funeral
We had spent the day in Toowoomba with my aunt and mother. It had only been 4 days since my ordination and I had shown them a bit of Queensland before they went back to Victoria. At 7:30 in the evening the phone rang. A lady, in a very a matter of fact voice said, “My husband died in the supermarket this afternoon.”

Dutifully I made my way to the suburb where she lived. All the way I was practising what I would say and how I would react and respond. I was flying on my own. Nothing prepared me for the reception I received.

The lady, accompanied by her daughter were not sad at all. They seemed quite upbeat. The widow saw the look of surprise on my face. She then narrated a story of abuse. One that the church leaders had hidden for many years. She could not help it that the source of the family abuse was now gone.

Foolishly I asked for a text for the funeral. She requested 2Cor 12:7 regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh. I don’t remember what I said in the sermon at the funeral. It is good that people are always in a gracious mood at weddings and funerals because it was like tip toeing through a mine field.

The other good thing was, after this funeral, funerals could only get easier … or so I thought until I had to bury a two year old child.


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