MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–What will be on your tombstone? asked Frank Page, president-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, speaking at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Northern California in Mill Valley.
Page, in his first speaking engagement at a Southern Baptist seminary since his election in June, told the story of how Louis Pasteur found the cure for rabies and saved the life of Joseph Meister, a young boy who was infected with the then-incurable infection.
“Of all that Pasteur could have written on his tombstone, he requested simply ‘Joseph Meister Lives,'” Page recounted. “What will be on your tombstone?” he asked the seminary audience. “I hope it will be ‘She or he followed the call of God.'”
Referring to 1 Samuel 3 in his Sept. 2 message, Page described how Samuel heard God’s call several times, yet at first he thought Eli was calling him. “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening,” Samuel eventually responded to God, Page said.
“God calls us so that we might say yes to salvation, and to come into a love relationship with Him,” Page said. “He also calls us to ministry, to service, just like he called Samuel.”
Page reminded the students, faculty and staff, “Even though Satan will attack you in your ministry, you will never walk alone. God will always be with you.” He said two-thirds of the men he went to seminary with are no longer in ministry. “Times are tough, for me as well as any other person, but this is a calling from God — it’s not something I can ignore,” he said, encouraging the audience to remember, “God has called you to ministry, and this will mitigate the difficulties that will come your way. You were called by God.
“Hear the call, heed the command,” Page said, calling the seminarians to ask God daily, “What do You want me to do today? Who do You want me to speak to today? May I hear the call, may I heed the command.”
“Do you hear God whisper a direction? Do not let the call of God go unheeded,” Page urged. “At age 4 I knew I was going to be a Baptist preacher. God’s call stayed clear for me.” He exhorted the audience to respond as Samuel did, “Speak Lord — Your servant is listening. Where do You want me to go, what do You want me to do?”
“What will be on your tombstone?” Page concluded. “I hope it will be, ‘He followed the call of God.'”
Page will succeed Morris H. Chapman, who is retiring as Executive Committee president at the end of September after 18 years in the position.
Phyllis Evans is director of communications for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (www.ggbts.edu).