Occasionally I have needed to explain myself in a public statement. These have come at critical junctures of new beginnings. I have just found the first two relating to my Ordination and my Induction to my first church. They reveal wrestling and conviction. Please forgive my introspection but reflecting on these has provoked some deep thankfulness to God. My Ordination was in Chatsworth Baptist Church, Carol's church which had become mine (see romance post!) on May 21st. 1972.
It is not easy to convey the sureness of my conviction that brings me to my Ordination, and yet do justice to the chequered course of events leading here. There have been periods of confusion doubt and of slipping backwards, and even as I declare here that I believe God wants me to be his minister there is still sheer disbelief that God wants me.
Today I give thanks for those powerful influences for God in my life - the most important of whom are my parents. Their saintly example gripped me as soon as I could think and the effectiveness of my Christian home began in my conversion and baptism by my father in 1959 and continues fittingly as my father ordains me. My younger brother, already a Baptist minister reinforces this testimony to my home.
But the thought of following in my father's footsteps as a 'clergyman' always horrified me, and still does. When I first went to university to read Geography I was determined to be a dedicated Christian, but a layman. However, towards the end of my three year course, as I was drifting into a probable teaching career, I suddenly felt acutely dissatisfied with the way I had decided my future with God, certainly no wrestling. In my indecision I was advised to wait, to take time to work and pray out my future. And in my waiting, quite out-of-the-blue I was asked to consider a new appointment at the Baptist Union Headquarters, working amongst students. This was a God-given opportunity to test my faith and future. Many events occurred within the first few months and throughout I prayed and thought hard.
It took nearly 14 months for me to accept the new direction towards which God was thrusting me. After hours of discussion with friends, of talking with my wife, a heaping up of experiences and sharing in student missions I found my devotional life was giving me less and less room for maneouvre. People prodded me, unawares but irritatingly on this sensitive spot - the full-time Christian ministry. The Holy Spirit was compelling me to think again and again, as the needling persistent conviction grew that I could never be happy outside the full-time Christian ministry.