Becoming a medical doctor was the logical choice: My father was a doctor and my older brother was in medical school. Sally Jo knew I planned to be a doctor.
A week before the Christmas vacation of my junior year of college, I asked Sally Jo if she would become my wife. She said “yes”! The next week she headed to Alaska where her brother was in the military. She had a great trip…including skiing at Alyeska. She skied! I drove a USPS truck delivering packages!
While Sally Jo was on her trip I made the tentative decision to switch from going into medicine to going into the ministry. This was a huge shift for me…and I really did not know how I should tell her about the change in my thinking – or how she would respond!
When she returned we had dinner together at an excellent restaurant, and somewhere during the evening, with knots in my stomach, I asked “What would you think if I decided to go into the ministry instead of medicine? Sally Jo quickly came back with:
- “What caused the sudden change?”
- “Do you think you are tactful enough?”
- “Didn’t you know…I have always wanted to be a minister’s wife?”
My heart came out of my throat…my heart started beating – fast!
“Let’s go back to the question: “What caused the sudden change?”
Such decisions are seldom sudden. Three factors led to my somewhat tentative decision.
- For two years I was the paid tenor soloist for the First Presbyterian Church in Oak Park, IL. The beautiful stone church had stained glass windows, a great pipe organ…and good music. The minister, Dr. Watermulder, spoke each Sunday morning for 20 minutes. When he was finished, I got his point! At the end of the service he stood at the door in his black robe and, looking each person in the eye, he shook their hand firmly. One night a week he played basketball with men from the church. I was impressed. The ministers I knew generally spoke for 30 minutes…and to me, either did not make a clear point or what they said seemed irrelevant to my life. Their hand shake was anything but firm…and if they had tried to play basketball? Out of the question! Dr. Watermulder was a minister with whom I could identify.
- While delivering USPS packages with my crew of peers, who had not grown up in the Christian faith, over our bag lunches we would talk. One young man in particular asked me the most basic questions about the Christian faith/life. One evening he asked if I would tell his girl friend what we had talked about. The story of Jesus Christ was totally new to them. This was a thrilling challenge for me.
- The pivotal point for me occurred when Mr. Garret Groen, a lawyer I knew, said he would like to talk with me. We set up a time, and I walked the two blocks to the beautiful Groen home. The living room ceiling went up like the front of a ship…perhaps 15-20 feet, and the sides of the “bow” were glass. It was in this setting Mr. Groen said ”Chuck, I cannot get it out of my mind: I think you belong in the ministry, not medicine. I would like to challenge you to bring to people the best product in the finest packaging. So often Christ is presented to the world in shabby packaging.”
God had been preparing me for my meeting with Mr. Groen, just as He had prepared Sally Jo’s heart for my question. Sally Jo’s response finalized my decision: I would go into the ministry.
Are you open to having God change your plans? To become a Sunday School Teacher, change your work patterns, change job, become a foreign missionary, change giving pattern, to present Jesus Christ in better packaging?
Remember: If we desire to live In Partnership With God, we must follow His written instructions and His leading.