This is both the easiest and hardest entry that I’ve written for IJSM. But as noted a week or so ago, I had direct contact with God four years ago on this date. Even more interestingly, I had a similar experience of being acutely aware of God’s presence last night. Because of both of those irrevocably life-changing experiences, this entry sees life in the ethereal pages of IJSM.

First, let’s go back four years. It was a Thursday night at Mission Fest, inside the sanctuary of Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, Miss. My friend Paul [yes, a lot has happened with Paul, whom I see a sum total of 10 days a year if I’m lucky, but I expect this to change now] and I were sitting in the back, watching over the sound board for the guitarist that was playing in the worship service we were having. Understand that sitting at sound boards is something that I do often at church, so it wasn’t unusual for me. I was really not paying the guitarist much attention; I was letting my mind drift.

To go back a couple years, I remember a lazy summer Sunday morning when I was working a sound board at my old church in Forest, Miss. Like most churches these days, we had a wireless microphone. Unfortunately, our frequency was too close to a trucker’s CB freq, and we heard some rather choice words before I woke up and muted out the preacher for a few seconds–long enough to put headphones in on that channel, monitor it, and realize the trucker was gone. So interruptions on the sound system were normal to me.

Flip back to that fateful Thursday night. I’m sitting there when I hear a crackle, then, “You know what you must do.”

That was it–in, out, probably three seconds long. “You know what you must do.”

Being the good sound tech I am, I freaked. I started looking around the board to see what was wrong. I positioned my finger above the mute switch for the guitarist’s wireless microphone…but wait, it was corded, wasn’t it? I looked all over the board–nothing wireless. Odd, these days.

I looked over at Paul. He hadn’t moved. It was a typical Mission Fest Thursday night–you’re full of God and completely devoid of any other energy, and you’re running on faith, gumption, adrenaline, and the obscene amounts of caffeine required to make it through a week of Mission Fest. Usually, you’re tired but jumpy as all get-out. I figured, “Surely, if that was something over the sound system, Paul would have heard it.” I don’t remember whether I asked Paul then or later, but he didn’t hear what I had heard.

I relaxed in my chair. Over the next half-hour, I examined everything it could have been while going through the motions of worship. In that time, I eliminated every possibility but one: God speaking directly to me.

“Why me? And I don’t know what ‘I must do’! Come on, God, you gotta gimme a little more than that!” was my general reaction.

After we filed out of the sanctuary to go have our traditionaly Mission Fest dance hour [I hate to dance], I grabbed Paul by the elbow and said, “Paul, I gotta talk to you.” Paul shrugged, and we walked to one of the fellowship rooms off of Galloway’s main fellowship hall. I told Paul what had just happened. He affirmed what I was thinking–I think God, having inspired him to accept a calling long ago, was able to work through him to convince me that yes, indeed, I had been called. He and I talked for a while, and unfortunately, the entire conversation is one I don’t much remember.

I don’t much remember that night after that, really, because I positively glowed in the reflection of God. That sounds all hokey, but when my friend Jessie grabbed me to dance, she asked me, “What’s with you, Geof? You can’t stop smiling.” I told her, and she hugged me as ferociously as any six-foot, 110-pound soaking wet girl can hug a guy my size. [Jerrod Partridge, you are one lucky man to have married that girl.]

So that’s the story of four years ago. Thinking on it, I’m going to stop it here, and continue this story tomorrow. I need more time to reflect on last night’s events, as well as those of the last four years. But I will revisit this topic tomorrow.