Have you ever had the awareness of God calling you into following Jesus, somehow, somewhere, but you are not really sure what it was or how you were going to get there?
It is the common experience of Christians the world over to feel nudges or leadings from the Holy Spirit into following Him.
This leading may come as a childhood dream. I used to have daydreams of being a missionary in China or following Livingstone into the jungles of Africa.
Or it may come in midlife when our children grow up and leave the nest.
Many of us find a great restlessness in our souls of “Lord what is next? What do you want me to do with my life?” That restlessness may be the beginnings of a call.
How does that call take shape? How do you actually move into being equipped and then engaged in the work in the Kingdom of God into which the Lord is taking you?
Lessons from my life
Going back to those daydreams of being a missionary in China – I now find myself involved with ministry in China.
How did I get here?
I can look back and see that step by step I have been in a river of the Holy Spirit that has been carrying me to where I am now with a particular work in the Kingdom of God.
It was God’s work, but it also involved intentional seeking on my part and making decisions to put myself in the contexts where I could grow.
For instance, deciding to go to seminary, saying yes to the call to be a missionary to Taiwan where I had to learn Chinese, and on and on.
Looking back I can see that the Holy Spirit did a wonderful job of putting together a preparatory course of instruction for me.
It included some elements of formal education as well as others that were not required by any academic institution.
All were needed to prepare me for my calling.
It was almost like a stream that I have been in that has brought me into my present role of ministry and service.
After receiving the call to follow Jesus I decided to go to seminary. I did not especially feel the call to pastoral ministry but I knew that I needed to be equipped somehow for engagement in advancing the Kingdom of God and a seminary education was the only pathway offered to me.
It took years of my life, but I am thankful that I received an excellent theological education at Union Seminary in Richmond, VA. It gave me a very good basis in bible and theology.
But there was another course of education that went way beyond my formal training. This curriculum was put together by the Holy Spirit.
He led me into different contexts in which I was brought into a dynamic living relationship with Jesus Christ and learned how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit (fully expressed now in the Dunamis Project teaching)
It was essential equipping that prepared me for a sphere of activity in the Kingdom of God that fits my personality and gifting and has enabled me to actually see the calling given me fulfilled.
Some of the components of this equipping process that the Holy Spirit put together were as follows:
- A mentoring relationship with Archer Torrey of Jesus Abbey in Korea. He stepped aside and invited me to teach and yet was right there praying for me and encouraging me. This was not part of my academic seminary education but was part of the equipping stream prepared by the Holy Spirit to equip me for working with Jesus Christ to advance the Kingdom of God.
- Being given careful systemic biblical teaching by Archer on how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Intense study with the help of master teachers, such as my Old and New Testament professors, who showed me the foundational concepts to help me understand the Bible.
- Being called into various Kingdom projects where I practically learned how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit (serving a small country congregation in the tobacco country of North Carolina and then going to Taiwan as a missionary, for example).
- Reading a number of books that brought me into the teaching of the Holy Spirit as well as first-hand reports from those who had been Jesus’ friends who modeled the life of following and working with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As I look back I realize that each of these were part of a stream of learning that led to particular educational goals.
From this Holy Spirit-directed education I did not get an academic degree, instead I was anointed by the Holy Spirit for power ministry and grew in my relationship with God.
I also leaned various practical tools, like how to listen to God, how to discern what was from the Holy Spirit and what was from evil spirits. I grew in the authority that Jesus Christ provides us to be His witnesses.
I also grew in being able to establish works of the Kingdom.
When we look at equipping as a Holy Spirit-led process that is intended to enable us to take part in the Holy Spirit’s Kingdom building work, our question is no longer what must I do to earn a degree, but what course of instruction is the Holy Spirit calling me to follow that will equip me to take part in His work of growing the Church and advancing the Gospel?