One event was beyond my control and one was completely within my control. But both could have led to me absolutely chucking this call to ministry that I had freshly committed to. I mean, come on I had started Bible College and was loving my classes. I wasn't making ends meet but I was enjoying working at yet another bowling center. And then in September 1997 the first blow came from somewhere I would have never expected . . .
Let me back up a little bit. In June 1997 a member of my family had corrective surgery to increase blood flow to the brain. And it didn't take us long to figure out that all was not well following the procedure but they were maintaining so all questions were put on hold. In early September some of us vacationed in Panama City Beach, FL and had by all accounts a wonderful time. When we returned home it happened. I remember it like it was yesterday . . . I had come in from church for a little lunch before heading out to the bowling center for my shift and tensions were rising between two of the dearest people in my life. Let me simply say this . . . when the words were spoken my plate broke on the floor and uncertainty would not be an apt description of what ensued. I'm being vague because there are many in my family that have no clue that this event ever took place and because it quickly became water under the bridge. But the event shattered my faith in my call to ministry. None of what was said was true, but this individual was clearly suffering side effects which included impaired judgment (obviously).
So, I was not going back to school. I just stopped going to class and started working more hours at the bowling center. And a month later event two took place and I could officially classify myself as being on the bottom rung of the ladder. I don't know if I was looking for it, or if it found me but I managed to indulge my flesh in a most worldly manner. After our second encounter I drove away shaking my head and finally, finally, realized that this road led straight to hell. And I was resigning myself to that fact. How could God possibly still be interested in using someone like me? And yet . . .
David Cook, Dean of Students at Atlanta Christian College called me and asked me if I was returning in the Spring? I told him I didn't see how and I was sure that my professors had withdrawn me failing. He advised me to drop by school and check my mailbox. So I did. It was stuffed full of memos and announcements and the withdrawal slips from my four classes, all of which were WP or withdraw passing. :) I came home and told my grandparents that I was going back in January, this time for good. "Grace, grace, God's grace"
I immediately started looking for ministry opportunities. And it didn't take too long for me to find one. The Buffington Road Christian Church (Independent, not DoC) in College Park, GA was looking for a youth minister. I had one interview with the minister Les Shell and his wife, Doris. We talked for a while and I told them I could also help out in leading worship at which point Doris Shell laughed at me and said in essence, "yeah right."
Well, I got the job and within a couple of weeks I was leading worship too. Turns out God was in a very giving mood with me in the category of singing voice. Things were actually looking way up . . . but there's still a long road ahead. More to come . . .