Not Now, Maybe Later
I remember sitting nervously in church as a teenager because I was desperately trying to keep out of the eye range of the preacher. I frantically looked around for my nearest exit without drawing attention to myself.
He had gone into to final section of his sermon that made me extremely uncomfortable: Heaven and Hell. I needed to make a sharp exit, but if I walked out for a convenient toilet break it would be really obvious to everyone in the room that I was trying to escape another altar call again.
"Here we go again" I thought to myself. He continued to talk about God’s love for us but I didn't completely get it. Wasn't the love I received from my family enough? He went on to say that God had the plans for our lives in His hands and that we had a special purpose. "A special purpose? Yeah right!" I thought to myself.
But then, my heart prompted me to go up to the front but the thought of everyone glaring at me caused me to keep still. It felt as if my feet were glued to the ground. My head was saying: “You've got too much to sort out before you can commit to anything like this”. So I listened to my thoughts while I continued to keep as still as possible to make sure that no one would realise I was battling with my indecisiveness, but it didn't work. My plans of going undetected had failed miserably!
From experience, I’ve noticed there's always that one brother or sister in the church who manages to pick certain people out on their radar when it comes to time for an altar call. If you are unfamiliar to an altar call, this event usually takes place after a sermon is preached. It’s an opportunity for people to come to the front to receive prayers and it also gives those who haven’t made a commitment to follow God the chance to do so. Anyway, a sister from the congregation started to head towards me and there was absolutely nowhere to hide.
She took me by the hand and led me straight to the front. I knew her intentions were good, but at that point in time, I just didn't want to be there. There were too many things that were whizzing around in my mind. I could think of many reasons for saying no to the call of God and only one reason for saying yes, and even that reason seemed to a be little unclear. I felt I had to put my foot down before I ended up committing to something that I would regret later on.
The sister went on to tell me that Jesus died for me, but I didn't fully understand what she meant. I had heard this statement a million times before, but I still couldn't figure out why Jesus would want to die for someone who doesn’t even want to follow Him. Nothing seemed to make any sense.
The sister looked me straight in the eye and asked me where I would spend in eternity if I continued to reject God’s call, and because I didn't want to accept the truth by answering honestly, I just shrugged my shoulders as a sign to say that I was unsure. I didn't know where her question had come from because I didn't hear or feel that God was calling me, but if she was right about this, why was God calling me anyway? I took a glance at the people in the room dressed in their hats and Sunday best while they were praying and crying out to God and I quickly came to the conclusion that I was nothing like them.
I began to question God by asking: “Is this what you are calling me to become Lord? Is this really your plan for my life? To be honest with you, it doesn’t look very exciting. You can't be calling me, not now God; I’m just not ready for all of this. Can’t you see that I’m the type of person who starts a lot of things but never quite manages to finish them. I’m not like the other church people and I don’t even know how to pray properly. What will happen if I regret making the decision to follow you tomorrow; how will I get out of it? How would I explain this to everyone else? What about all of the things that I would have to give up? My life would be completely boring.”
At that point in time the sister started praying for me, which was nice, but then I started to cry! I needed to get a hold of myself! I blamed my emotional behaviour on the soft music and the typical church atmosphere. Looking back today, I realise that this was the work of the Holy Spirit.
I had a goal and this was to make it back to my seat as quickly as possible, so I fought against what I thought were my emotions, stopped crying and I dried my tears. I shut my eyes to make it look as if I was praying to avoid making eye contact, but she continued to pray so I had no other choice but to listen. I tried to block out her convincing words by thinking up more reasons to support my argument for saying no.
Eventually the room became quiet as the prayers ceased and the service drew to an end. The sister told me that she would continue to pray for me and gave me a hug. I then walked back to my seat to collect my things and I quickly said goodbye to everyone. As I walked towards the exit, I said to myself: “Not now Chantelle, maybe later.”
Today, I thank God for His patience and mercy, He did not give up on me. The question is can you afford to delay the call of God any further? How much time do you have left to start your walk with God?
A wealthy woman phoned a manager of a concert hall and asked, “Have you found a diamond pendant? I think I may have lost it somewhere in the building last night.” The manager replied, “No, we haven't but we will take a look now for you. Please hold the line.” After several minutes of searching, one of the members of staff found the pendant. The manager rushed back to the phone and said, “We have some very good news for you. We have found it! Hello…hello…hello…” The woman had hung up! She never called back and her diamond pendant was never claimed! Do not miss out on what God has in store for you! God is calling you today! How long have you got left to answer His call? Was this your final chance? Jesus is REAL! Get to know Him for yourself and experience a personal relationship with Him. Remember all you need to do to be saved is repent, believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess that Jesus is Lord and Saviour. Read Romans 10:9-11. Start your exciting new journey!
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6 KJV
Please note that the altar call described above is a combined account of my experiences during my teenage years.