I still remember the first sermon I heard after deciding to quit my job and enter the ministry.
When I went to work that Thursday morning, I had no intention of walking away from my job until I heard God’s voice telling me to leave that day. There was no two weeks notice. I simply told my manager that I quit. I tidied up my desk and walked through the door. I’m sure everyone who saw me probably thought I looked like a deer caught in the headlights. I was dazed, confused and unsure of my next step. I got in my car and drove like I was lost. I kept thinking about how I was going to pay my bills.
I went to my church to talk to my pastor, but he wasn’t there. I decided to go home. When I pulled into my driveway, I saw my neighbor across the street. He waved at me and asked me what I was doing at home in the middle of the day. I was embarrassed to say that I had just quit my job and didn’t know what to do next.
I decided to say that I didn’t feel very well. Now, looking back, it seems strange, but my neighbor didn’t ask me if I needed medicine, soup, or even to go to bed. He asked me if I wanted to go to church with him that night. Who asks a sick person to go to church with him? Who is my neighbor? And guess what? I went.
The subject of the sermon that evening was “Pick Up Your Cross” from Chapter 9 of the Book of Luke. The message was about how Jesus called his followers to leave behind everything they knew, owned and loved to follow him. I still remember the preacher saying that our crosses would not be easy to bear.
Like Jesus, the disciples were deceived, despised and persecuted. The preacher also said that our load would be heavy and difficult at times, but we must keep going until we have finished exactly what God has called us to do. It was as if the Lord was speaking directly to me through this preacher.
I was blown away when he spoke of Peter, James and John casting their nets and leaving their fishing boats to become Disciples of Christ. I kept wondering how did this man know that God had called me to leave my job earlier in the day? I hadn’t told anyone what I had done, so I was just impressed that God had ordained my steps to hear that exact message that day.
It was almost 20 years ago. I still replay this sermon in my head all the time when I need a pep talk, when things get tough and I want to throw in the towel. I also meditate on the fact that in Luke chapter 9, it is said that we must pick up our cross “every day”. This means that the challenges, obstacles and enemies we face are not just a one-time thing that goes away.
We, as followers of Christ, face trials every day. I’ll be honest: it’s absolutely exhausting to carry a cross every day, but I have no regrets that I answered Jesus’ call. If God speaks to you, be sure to respond!
Heather Boone is pastor of Oaks of Righteousness Christian Ministries and Oaks Village in Monroe. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.