The Path Not Taken

I grew up attending a Nazarene church in Indiana. I was saved at seven, baptized at fourteen, and early in life felt called into ministry. I was set to go to Olivet Nazarene College, with my life wide open before me. My trust in God felt unshakeable and I was chomping at the bit to pursue the ministry.

A dark day came, however, when a visit to an Air Forcerecruiter’s office set my life into motion down a much different path. I thought I knew better than G o d ,
s o I took my life out of His hands and into my own. The next five years were lived in the Air Force, where my life of sin would make the Prodigal Son seem tame by comparison. Those years had to nearly destroy me, before I became willing to turn back to God.

The second five years of my life in the Air Force were very different from the first five. I returned to God, joined the Baptist church, rededicated my life to God and was re-baptized. As I look back on that second five years, I remember serving God by being instrumental in saving a marriage, leading people to Jesus, and being a “counselor” of sorts to my co-workers, as well. O n c e again, I began to s e n s e a call into the ministry. When I left the Air Force after t e n years, I enrolled in t he Baptist College of Graceville, Florida, where I earned a B.A. in Theology. I was then issued a minister’s license from the First Baptist Church of Panama City, Florida.

During my college years, I can look back and see that God was using me to counsel young people who were away from home for the first time. Many of these

students wanted to quit, but I was able to speak in to their lives and encourage them to stay the course and not give up. Many of them did stay and continued on into the ministry.

The college discovered that I was an “old man” of 30-something, making me insurable to drive campus vehicles. So through my college years, I drove countless ministry teams throughout the south, bringing the gospel message to thousands of teens.

Since graduation, I have yet to find a position in conventional ministry. With the assorted jobs that I have worked, however, I have been given several opportunities to build relationships. I always speak positively into people’s lives, and when the opportunity arises, I even share the story of Jesus with them. Without realizing it, I have, indeed, had a ministry.

Then, when I heard Pastor Steve speaking of finding the “work” in your job, I realized that all of our work is to be an ambassador for Jesus in whatever ” foreign country” we might find ourselves.

I do often wonder, however, about the path not taken. If I could say just one thing to the teens in the church, it would be this: Give your first and best to Jesus and leave your life in His hands. T h e n , you will never have to look back on your life and ask the unanswerable question, “What if . . . ?”