Today’s Scripture: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

As I near my retirement in September, my mind is flooded with wonderful memories of the way my Heavenly Father has stood by my side. Within the next few devotionals, I want to share with you some of the experiences in which I saw God’s hand guiding, protecting and helping me. I hope that as you read about my past, you will be encouraged to serve the Lord with your future.

My service to the Lord began in a very unique way. My father was a Methodist preacher, and although I loved him dearly, I hated church. When it came time for me to go to college, I chose to study politics, and everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place. It was then that the District Superintendent of the Methodist Church asked me to be a preacher. My response to him was, “I can’t be a preacher. I live like the devil here at the university.” I quickly changed my mind when he offered me free living at the parsonage and a salary. Several months later, some of my friends from the University of Kentucky came to hear me preach. After they heard me stumble through my message, they decided to share the clear gospel with me. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was so excited that it felt as though the bed sheets hardly touched my body that night.

Despite my joy, I found myself feeling guilty for only preaching to earn a place to live and some extra spending money. It wasn’t until a family in that church, Jo and Bill Norris, invited me over for Sunday dinner that I felt peace. Before we ate, Jo Norris gathered everyone together to pray. It was as though her prayer entered straight into the courts of Heaven. When she finished, she looked at me and stated, “James, you are going to be a preacher.

“Oh no, Jo,” I responded. “I don’t think God wants me to be a preacher. He wants me to go into politics.” Six weeks later, I got in my car and drove with Jo’s words still echoing in my mind. I came to the edge of a stream but felt compelled that I had to cross it. Taking my shoes and socks off I waded to the other side. It was there that I saw a man in prayer on his knees.

He looked at me and asked, “Are you the preacher I’ve been praying for?”

Without hesitation, I answered with tears welling in my eyes, “Yes, I am.” Those three words changed my life forever. A few years later, God called me, my wife and two little children to start a church in Chicago. God had a plan far better than any I could have ever hoped for, and, friend, He has one for you, too. Choose today to be open to His will and get ready to watch Him work!

Devotional By Dr. James A. Scudder