September 18, 2003
He Came for My Vow
Attending an annual camp meeting in the summer of 1951 the seventeen-year-old sat under the open-air tabernacle wondering what she was supposed to do with her life. Her dreams of going to college had been dashed. Unbelief and disappointment cascaded over her, fueling the flame of resentment. It never occurred to her that her dad considered college completely unnecessary for girls.
The missionary who was speaking that afternoon caught her attention, and she listened with an interest that surprised her. Gradually the speaker’s voice faded, and the hundreds of people evaporated leaving her all alone in a secret place with a God she feared.
To her dismay God called her to the ministry, and she assumed that she would have to be a missionary in far and distant lands. Believing that He was punishing her, she looked for a way of escape. She tried to keep His laws, but it was impossible –she had failed miserably. How could she possibly go to the mission fields? The fear of sailing across oceans to live among witch doctors and snake charmers overshadowed any desire to please Him.
Southern tradition and religious doctrines had formulated her concept of women ministers. It was an unspoken law that women were subservient – “real ministry” belonged to men. Generally, women were relegated to teaching children and holding bake sales or dinners. The one well respected, licensed female minister that she knew was a missionary.
I was that young girl. Scriptures tell us that we perish for a lack of knowledge — I didn’t know God. My perception of Him was flawed – I saw Him as a cruel, unbending and demanding Father.
Unaware that God’s callings are irrevocable and without repentance, I made my conditional vow. I promised to obey Him if He would allow me to get married and have a family before sending me to the jungles of Africa or India.
At the close of the service I walked the long aisle along with many others, gave God my most prized possession – a watch I had received for my birthday. This noble offering sealed our agreement – an agreement that I soon forgot.
In January of 1968 after the birth of our fourth child God came for my vow. On that bleak day I was trying to figure everything out and all I got was a splitting headache. The fog of depression grew denser; everyone said that everything would be all right, but I didn’t even know what was wrong. If only I could fly away on the wings of a dove to a place of peace and rest. There was no one to turn to so I called upon God to rescue me.
Suddenly there was a Heavenly light directing me across a threshold where I fathomed knowledge that was beyond my human intellect. The chronic emotional atrophy that had reduced my soul to a wasteland dissipated. As beams of Light drew me into a place of warmth and safety, I recoiled from the skepticism that had betrayed me. Behold old things passed away and all things became new. The world inside and out was bathed in purity, and I sat mesmerized while my fragmented, crippled emotions were sucked up into a beautiful, cosmic kaleidoscope.
The kaleidoscope gave way to a field of hardened, brown, fallow ground stretched out across the spacious brilliancy. Gazing upon the landscape, I watched the Farmer plow the earth as geysers of hot liquid exploded from the depths of my soul. Furrow after furrow yielded moist, fertile soil, and the aroma of newly well-irrigated dirt transported me into the secret place with God. Tears flowed freely as He prepared the ground for the planting of His Word. This I discovered – GOD IS LOVE!!!
The Father has graciously included each of us in His plan of redemption. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God loves you and He will come for your vow at the appropriate time – He is never early, nor is He ever late. He is an awesome God who has foreordained your pathways and called you with a Holy Calling. Faithful is He who called, who will also fulfill it.
Copyright © Germaine Copeland 2003
Germaine Copeland is the author of the best selling book series, Prayers That Avail Much. She has written scriptural prayers for the family. Read your Bible, pray and attend church where you can soak up the love and faith of God. You will receive emotional healing, experience spiritual growth and become more intimately acquainted with your Heavenly Father, and your relationships will grow stronger.