Since I was five years old, I have wanted to preach. I remember telling my mother that God told me that I was supposed to preach. She laughed at me and told me that God could not use girls to preach. For years, I believed her. I tried to run from the call that I thought He had placed in my life because I reasoned; it must not be from Him. Then I decided that perhaps, my call was to only teach other women and children. For years, I served in various capacities that allowed me to utilize a small part of my calling in those areas. I loved teaching scripture. I loved being used in the lives of children both as a Bible teacher and as a choir director. However, I knew that part of me was empty. There was a section of my soul that I was trying to stifle.
When I was finally able to finish my BA, I really wanted to pursue a Christian Studies degree but decided instead to get an Elementary education degree. I was still homeschooling my youngest son, and I have always loved those moments when teaching where the “lights go on” and the child gets it. Also, since life is so uncertain, I reasoned that if I ever needed to support our family that I could do so with a teaching certificate. However, those plans fell apart as our country's economy plummeted.
I began praying and seeking to discover what God’s plan and purpose was for me. I guess I thought that he had changed the call He gave me when I was five. I considered getting a Master in Education in Curriculum design. I even talked with the department head at my alma mater and he told me that I would be a great candidate for the program. However, my heart was unsettled. I hungered to get deeper into God’s Word. I longed to surround myself with theology books and pour over His Word. Nothing cleanses my soul more than burying myself in seeking God.
I shared with my husband that I really felt called (no other way to put it) to seek a seminary degree. I told Mark that I wasn’t sure why this desire was so strong or what I would do with the degree. He told me, “Debbie, I know that you listen to God. You are a gifted teacher and lover of Christ. God has a plan for you and you have to be faithful in preparing yourself to fulfill it.”
I considered several seminaries and really was unsettled about choosing Liberty; however, as I researched I felt Liberty was where God was directing me. I have been blessed by choosing this school. I feel that I have gotten an excellent education and I have enjoyed most of the time. I struggled with the semester when I was first diagnosed with Sjogren’s because I was in such pain and my eyesight was so impeded. But, with the amazing support of my husband, family, and friends, I was able to get through that semester.
Today, I wrote the last paper for my degree program. I wrote about Billy Graham and his devotion to follow God with all of his being. Reading and writing about Graham took me back in time to when I was nine years old. I had caught on fire that year, and I was often in my room alone with a small black and white television set as my only companion. One evening, I watched the Billy Graham Crusades. I grabbed hold of Billy’s teaching that it was faith not works that saved a man. This was not the teaching with which I had been raised. This was a radical idea and concept for me as a nine-year-old to grasp. I discussed this teaching with my father, who told me that Mr. Graham was wrong. Eleven years would pass before I finally had the courage, at age twenty, to tell my parents that Mr. Graham’s teachings were not his own words, but the Word of God. I have to wonder how many other children Billy Graham’s faithfulness influenced?
So, Saturday, May 12 is my official graduation date from Liberty. A new chapter in my life will begin as this old one ends. Today, I found myself remembering my husband’s word that God has a plan for me in ministry. Exactly how God will manifest that plan I do not know. But, I know one thing for certain—He is trustworthy. He knows the deep desires of my heart because He hid them in it when I was formed in the womb. I will trust Him now to complete a good work in me so that He may be glorified in my life and so that others will learn of Him and follow after Christ.
To God Be All Glory, Honor, and Praise.