Called To Cross Lines

by Bill Martin, Towamencin congregation

On a snowy Saturday evening this past winter, my wife Sharon and I were leaving an almost empty Lowes store. I drove our car along the front of the store to avoid the speed bumps.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“What I am not supposed to,” came my reply.  After a brief pause, I turned to her and said, “It makes me feel alive.”

She broke into laughter. “I’ve never heard you say it so plainly.”

Honestly, though, that’s who I am. Sharon likes to draw an imaginary line with one hand, saying, “Here’s the line,” and then, extending her arm as far as she can, adding, “and here you are.  You always have to cross the line.”

I was the child that needed more discipline than my siblings; trouble seemed to find me. So imagine the impact, when I was about 10 years old, of my mom saying to me, “There was a Billy Sunday, a Billy Graham, and, I believe, one day there will be a Billy Martin.”

It was a moment at a young age when I realized there had been a path laid out for my life, not because my mom said I should, but because I knew she had spoken truth to me.

In high school, the line-crossing trends continued and I am certain there were not many teachers who wanted me in their classes. Yet a comment from Mr. Benner when he graded one of my speeches in speech class reaffirmed what my mom had told me. It was called a “Mini Chapel Speech” and he gave me a B grade with the comment, “Bill, I think you should consider becoming a pastor.” The note carried more weight because it was not based on the quality of the speech but rather on something else that he saw in me.

I have learned that God does not call us because we are perfect or because we are the best at something. God calls us out of His design and what He desires and what He is doing.

Several years ago, I was preaching at Spruce Lake Retreat. After the sermon, a friend came up to tell me about a comment a high school classmate made: “Of all the people I went to high school with, that’s the last guy I would have thought would become a pastor.”

That’s right, that’s me. Called by God, not because of who I am, but because of who He is.