Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Wake-up Call

Normally when traveling I don't trust myself to hear my alarm and wake up on time. In order to be sure I awaken at the correct time I call the desk and ask for a wake-up call. Thanks be to God that as of this date I have never had this convenience fail me. Usually when I am in my deepest and most pleasant arena of sleep the phone will begin ringing. It will ring noisily and incessantly until my sleep addled brain tells the rest of my body to get up and answer it. Of course no one is there on the other end of the line. However, it did its job, I am now awake. The trick is not to lay back down and go to sleep!

One early August morning in 1977 God sent me a wake-up call! This call came in the form of a very painful trip to the hospital emergency room around 3:00 AM. This time it was not a call to wake up for a meeting or training seminar, it was God reminding me that I had a call from Him and that I had been ignoring it for quite some time.

My walk of faith actually began on April 12th, 1972 at the United Baptist Church in San Jose, California. This was a large church that had begun in the early sixties when a few families swept out and cleaned up a horse stable on a rather large piece of property. This cleansing and subsequent make-over of this stable provided a small meeting place for a new church that had been put together by joining two small struggling churches in the Santa Clara Valley, now more popularly known as the Silicon Valley. Hence the name - United Baptist Church. Eventually Larry Chappell would become pastor of that little tiny church and turn it into a church of over 2500 people, placing it on TV and radio, and developing a bus ministry that brought kids in from all over the valley. On a Wednesday night in April after a rather enthusiastic and vivid description of hell and a plea "to  receive Christ" upon conviction by the Holy Spirit, I admitted my sinful condition, lost state, need of a redeemer, and asked Christ to save my soul. I thought that was that! Eternity secure, what is next on the agenda for me.

The next six years were very pivotal times for me. I dropped out of high school in October of that same year and I joined the United States Marine Corps. Viet Nam was winding down, although not all the troops were out of the country. I volunteered to be a door gunner on a Huey Helicopter. Thank God He knows better than me. Rather than becoming canon fodder with a life expectancy of about 21 seconds as a door gunner I was sent to Ft McClellan, Alabama where I became a Nuclear Biological and Chemical Warfare Specialist. I ran with the wrong crowd in the Corps and learned to party-hearty!

All the way through my three year enlistment, and subsequent active reserve duty I was plagued with this internal sensation that I belonged to God and He wanted me to preach His word and pastor His people. The more I tried to ignore this sensation the louder and more of a nuisance it became.

I thought a regular routine of a family life would take me off the hook, so in June of 1973 I married the former Irene Hernandez Torres of San Jose, California. She and I actually met and dated in high School at Andrew P. Hill High School  in San Jose. I was a freshman and she was a junior when we met. It was love at first sight. Right! Now that I am older and wiser it was really lust at first sight but I didn't know that at that time.

So, marriage and the Marine Corp occupied my life. Just after finding out Irene was pregnant with our first child I was shipped overseas to Japan and Okinawa for thirteen months. Shannon was born in September of 1974 with me being stuck in Iwakuni, Japan with the VMA-211 Avengers of MAG-12. (Marine Air Group 12)

I rotated back to the land of the big PX in 1974. Still routine family life and life as a Marine occupied my time. I was honorably discharged in October of 1975. Work was difficult to find around Bluffton, South Carolina and my wife was homesick for California. I wasn't making much money driving a "Roach-Coach" selling sandwiches and soda.We made a decision even with Irene being nine months pregnant to move back to San Jose. In February 1976 Sonja was born. I looked for work from February of 1976 until June of 1976. Finally I was hired by the County Clerk of Palo Alto County in Palo Alto, California to work in the Clerk's Office for the Superior Court.

Now life was really routine. I made a 45 mile one way trip to work each day on my new Honda 350CC motorcycle. I worked 8-5, Monday through Friday. Partied on the weekends, played with Shannon and Sonja and enjoyed Irene and marriage. That should have put that nagging sensation to rest once and for all.

But no, God had different plans for me. At around 3:00 AM give or take I woke up with the worst stomach pain that I had ever experienced. It was so bad that I knew I needed to go to the emergency room. Fortunately we rented the house next door to Irene's folks, and since Irene didn't drive she woke her mom up to sit with the kids while her dad took me to the hospital. The initial diagnosis was a severe stomach ulcer. Subsequent tests revealed that to be the case.

In the midst of this experience I truly thought if I didn't submit and surrender to God's call He was going to kill me. I know that was ignorance and panic talking but it was what I thought at the time. I did what any normal person who did not want to die, I made a deal with God. It went something like this, God if you don't kill me, I will preach your word and pastor your people. Of course it would years later before I learned you can't make deals with God. He is sovereign and does according to His good pleasure for His good pleasure. I didn't even know what I was agreeing to or getting into, but I decided to surrender and begin a walk of faith.

The Wake-Up Call is the first installment in the series The Metcalf's Walk of Faith. Stay tuned for the next installment entitled, "The Move"

"Walk of Faith..." Segments of Christian Testimony

Join us each Saturday as we take a look at back at the spiritual journey and blessings of the Metcalf's Walk of Faith


Patience said...

You mean we have to wait till a week to hear the next bit?! Hehehe that is so cruel.

Larri said...

LOVE this post! Thank you for sharing your heart today. :o)

PS...Bluffton is about 4 hours from where I reside. I can't imagine there was much to it back in the 70s. It's still seems to be just a pass-through to get to Hilton Head or Savannah. No wonder Irene was homesick! ;o)

Alice said...

I enjoyed that! I'll be anxious to read more:)


I enjoyed helps get to know you a wee bit better .

I had a wake up call of a different nature 3 yrs ago. I was staying over night at a bed and breakfast house at Heathrow airport as I was travelling to Calafornia next day, I arranged a wake up call at 5am next morning and ordered a continental breakfast. Being tired I went to bed at 7-30pm and was awakened by the "Early Morning call" got out of bed, showered and packed my case and waited for my breakfast,,
It didn't arrive so went to see what was the delay, I got a funny look from the receptionist who informed me it was only 10-30pm , I had only slept 3 hours, they phoned to make sure what time I wanted to be awakened,

Look forward to your next instalment.


Gregg I am awarding you with the "You Inspire Me award " it on my latest blog.

Anonymous said...

God will get our attention one way or another.

As C.S.Lewis one said, " God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world".

Persis said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Looking forward to more of how God has led you.

RaD said...

Ah, but even though you were naive at the time it definitely was something He used for His glory!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Gregg!

Arlee Bird said...

It's a wonder that some of us survived our early adult years. Praise to God for his protection.

Tossing It Out