God’s unchanging call
March 5th, 2020 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments
James 4:14: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” It is possible that James was thinking of Psalm 39 when he penned these words. The psalmist was cognizant of the brevity of life. He expressed it in very poignant words. I am not being melancholy when I acknowledge how fast my life has passed before me.
This April will be my 50th birthday. When you look at me, you might say the years have not been kind. I am referencing my spiritual birthday. Although I had a godly home, I did not receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior until I was a senior in high school. I walked down the aisle of the church a couple of times making professions that I wanted to be saved, but I was not in possession of saving faith. Two weeks before graduation, alone in my parent’s home, I came under the conviction of my lost state and cried out, “God save me.” This started a process that will end in heaven. I am not what I ought to be, and I thank God I am not what I will be.
After coming to Christ, I began to involve myself in every conceivable expression of my faith. I read Scripture, prayed like never before and witnessed to my friends. Three months later, I sensed a call to the ministry. Growing up in Louisiana you are never too far from a swamp. I drove out to Lafourche Swamp near my hometown and I spent the day fasting and praying. As the sun was setting, I was certain God wanted me to preach his Word. The call to preach is as inexplicable as the salvation experience. In Galatians 1:15, the apostle Paul says God set him apart from his mother’s womb to preach the gospel. Jeremiah 1:5 expresses a similar calling for the prophet. Like salvation, the call to preach is a supernatural act of a sovereign God.
God’s call on my life has never wavered. I started out as a youth evangelist. I served on church staff as a youth pastor, music worship leader and associate pastor. My wife and I started a church. All total, I pastored over 20 years. Prior to coming to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention I was a Director of Missions in Northwest Arkansas. It has been 22 blessed years serving the churches of the SBTC. Yet, the calling that remains is to preach the Word. The expression of ministry has varied, but the ultimate responsible has remained constant: “Preach the Word!”
My 50th year of salvation and service is a time of celebration. God has been gracious to keep me saved. I have failed him many times, but he has never failed me. God’s calling has been without change. He has allowed me to have preaching opportunities. I am not as good a preacher as I thought I was when I started out, but in God’s good favor he lets me serve him. By his grace I will continue until I see Jesus face to face.
Even if God gives me 20 more years to live and serve him, eventually my time will end. We need others to put their “yes” on the altar. Pastor, call out the called. There are men in your church that need to get into a position to hear the clear voice of God. Church member, the Spirit of God may be calling you to preach the Word. Listen, God is speaking!