I got called to ministry when I was 15.
I’ve told this story countless times. There is a guarantee that the true weight of that experience will never lose its power in my life. When God calls you that directly, you don’t forget things like that. I think, however, there is a huge misconception about “God’s call on your life,” though. I’ve written about it before. I talk about it repeatedly to people. I always tell them the same thing: affirmation. As I write this, I’m sitting in the church office of the church I’m interning at this semester. It’s the church I also attend while at school. Let’s go way back to November to understand why in the world I’m even in this office typing this.
In November, I realized that I would graduate a semester early with my 4-year degree without doing anything extra, meaning, 15 hours or so a semester for my entire career at Presbyterian College, which is where I go to school. Essentially, I would graduate after my senior season of football. In November, I also realized I only needed 53 more hours to graduate and an estimated 4 semesters left. Immediately, and for some reason (but really not for “some” reason because the Bible doesn’t support coincidence), I had an idea: why don’t I try to graduate in three years?
Now, let’s assess the situation. Here is my train of thought around Thanksgiving 2018: I could graduate in three years by doing 18 hours per semester for three semesters straight (starting in January 2019, allowing my graduation date to be in May 2020). That doesn’t seem too bad. But, wait. I’m playing football. This would force me to forego my senior season. What will my coaches think about that? What about my family? They’ve invested a lot of resources in me to play college football. Would I be putting my team in a bind? What would I do if I graduate earlier than I planned? Should I go straight to seminary? How do I even go about getting the hours needed in classwork to do this? Could I handle that amount of work? I need affirmation.
Well, today, I sit in this church office, and I turn to look backward at the last few months. All I can see is Christ in my life. I’m in this church office because I’m supposed to be here. My parents said they wanted me to do what was best, and they supported the move. My coaches understood and even encouraged me to take this route. My little lady friend has given me great advice the whole way. My close friends either in or going to ministry all told me they thought this was a great idea. I only had 15 hours, and then a teammate casually mentioned doing an internship, to which Adam Powers, my school pastor, graciously allowed for me to do. Now, I’ve got 18 hours. Affirmation after affirmation has flooded my reality. “Cooper, are you sure you want to do all of this?” people would ask me. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life, other than my salvation, my call to ministry, and the reality of having to pay taxes.
What’s your point, Cooper?
My point is simple. This entire ordeal worked out perfectly. News flash: that is not by random chance. You call things random when you don’t know where they came from. I know exactly where this all came from. You who are in Christ will know when you are on the page He is on. Some people will say they can’t find God. Some people will say He doesn’t talk back. Some people will say they don’t know what to do. Ask yourself three questions:
- Do God and I have an intimate relationship, as in, have I responded to the Gospel?
- Do I pursue God on a daily basis through prayer and the study of God’s word?
- Do I actively seek affirmation for my own desires or do I actively seek open doors that Christ has created?
If you can’t say, “yes,” to all three, then it’s time to get the ball rolling. If you know Christ, you will know exactly what He looks like when He’s in the room. That is 1000% a hill I am willing to die on. God doesn’t talk out of burning bushes anymore. He does send the rainbows, though. He does send the doves. He does put a ram in the thicket. He does cry out in the wilderness. I don’t keep doing this thing because I can see God. I don’t have any idea what He looks like. I can, however, see what He’s doing. I can see where He’s been. And He will leave road signs letting us know that we are going to where He’s going.
Know Christ. See Christ. Reflect Christ.