CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (BP) — Everyone is given a name from birth. Often the name is infused with some meaning, so it is special to us.
It was a slightly cold and rainy spring day in New England when Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary held its annual graduation ceremony in Wenham, Mass. Campus police and parking attendants were busy directing traffic for graduates and their family members and friends who were in high spirits as they filled the stands May 12.
It was a special day for my family because my wife Rebekah, the Southern Baptist chaplain at Harvard University, was about to receive her doctor of ministry degree. All our church members from Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, along with several overseas missionary couples from our mission churches — around 300 of us — gathered for the momentous occasion.
As the name of each of the graduates was called in alphabetical order, sounds of shouting and applause were in the air. Finally, the name “Rebekah Kim” was announced and we all stood to cheer. The deafening noise went on for a good 40 seconds, probably a record for a Gordon-Conwell graduation. It was an unforgettable moment for the family of God, made all the more memorable by the presence of our special missionary families from the Republic of Georgia, Armenia and Korea.
Certainly in the Bible, God called many people by name.
He called Moses from the burning bush at Mt. Horeb (Exodus 3) with a mission to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt. God called Samuel out of bed in the night when he was a young boy (1 Samuel 3:1-10). God called a youth named Jeremiah to boldly proclaim the judgments of God (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
As the Lord Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho, He saw a chief tax collector up on a sycamore tree. Jesus called Zacchaeus by name (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus’ life was transformed by this seemingly chance encounter. The risen Lord Jesus called Saul’s name while he was on the road to Damascus to arrest and persecute Christians (Acts 9:3-9). The calling stopped Saul in his tracks and he became Paul and changed the course of history.
God’s unforgettable calling continues from the beginning of human history to this day. He calls His disciples to do His will in each and every generation. He calls us to a loving relationship with Him when He invites us to come unto Him (Matthew 11:28-30). And whenever we hear His calling, we are to reply, “Here I am, Lord. Speak to me….”
I heard His calling into the Gospel ministry when I was a senior in college in Hilo, Hawaii, in the spring of 1973. His call was a still, small voice, but as I searched the will of God through the Scriptures, His voice became louder and clearer to me. I knew I had to surrender to His will in obedience, so I enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in the fall of that year.
Since then, my life has been changed by the power of His Spirit. It is my life testimony that His call is an unforgettable one. After new birth, following His will is the most important experience in a person’s life. As it has been 45 years since my Christian pilgrimage began, I want to keep running the race until He calls me back to Him, so that I can join with the apostle Paul in saying: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).