|The summer after the
first year of high school something happened that changed the direction
of my life. My passion for reading led me, inexplicably, to a religious
book entitled Lambs among Wolves. I was reading lots of sports biographies
and novels at the time, not religious books, which I carefully avoided
in view of my anticipated departure from the church. But something
about this book attracted me. The book, in fact, seemed to compel
me to read it.
a shade tree in the front yard on a hot afternoon, I started reading
Lambs among Wolves. Our house, a two-storied, white frame structure,
nestled modestly among tall scrubs and oak trees, fronted a dusty
road. When cars drove by, dust wafted over the front lawn and seeped
into the open, screened windows, leaving a residue on the chairs
and tables. We had no air conditioning, so on hot summer afternoons
I often found a spot under one of the trees to indulge in reading.
Meade MacGuire, a popular writer, in this book
used the metaphor of sheep and wolves. The sheep, he declared, were
the Christians; the wolves, the unconverted. When one becomes a
Christian, he pointed out, he or she becomes a sheep. One acts like
a sheep. One lives like a sheep. One has the tastes of a sheep.
One does not continue to act like a wolf. If so, the person has
not really been converted. MacGuire’s metaphor struck me with deep
conviction. I suddenly, strangely, against all my natural desires,
wanted to be a sheep. I knew I was a wolf, although by most standards,
I was not excessively wicked. Inside, however, I knew I had been
going in the wrong direction. On that hot summer day, I no longer
wanted a "wolf" kind of life. Not really knowing what to do, I stammeringly
made a commitment to change. Wayne Oates remarks that some conversions
are constructive, and lead to reconciliation and positive change
in a person’s life, while others are fruitless, abrasive, and bring
misery to the individual and those around them. Mine was definitely
constructive, because my life changed for the good. I returned to
church, started reading the Bible and praying regularly. I became
more cooperative toward my parents, and began to treat my sister
and brother with respect, something I had not always done before!
One day, while I was talking with another high
school classmate. She paused, interrupting me in mid-sentence. Smiling,
looking me in the eye, she asked, "Jerry, what do you plan to be
when you graduate?"
It was a good question, one that high school students
often ask each other and themselves. I had thought about it, but
never expressed what I was beginning to feel, because I knew my
father had his heart set on my becoming a civil engineer. "A minister,"
I replied, surprising even myself.
Excerpt from Jerry's book: A Theologian's
Journey from Seventh-day Adventism to Mainstream Christianitypp.
Copyright Jerry Gladson 2000, used with permission.