“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” Genesis 12:1
Abram likely had never heard of this God who spoke to him. He lived in familiar surroundings, with family and friends, and security. God told him to leave. And go where? God’s answer appears to have been something along the lines of “don’t worry about it. Just say yes.” Abram did.
Nearly 40 years ago I said yes to God. The question was something along the lines of “will you do whatever I ask of you?” That was “my call.” I did not know where it would take me, but I was excited to go.
Not for a moment would I say that I have been obedient at every turn to that simple question. I have had times of great clarity when the path before me was obvious. Other times have been quite murky. I have seen though a glass darkly, and not been able to discern a clear answer. Doubt and fear have plagued me. When I find the courage to follow, I walk by faith, falteringly, but with an honest desire to please God.
For a while now I have been at a turning point in my life. Alcoholism showed me how my will can run completely counter to God’s higher purpose for me. Recovery has helped me discover new ways the rhythm of my life and will can resonantly align with God’s gentle Providence. I think that only by falling far, could I realize how far down God would reach to lift me back. I am profoundly grateful.
So now after 35 years as a pastor I have made a decision to take a new path, one that leads me from the clear and familiar to a land that is excitingly new. Today I resigned as pastor to follow God’s call to help alcoholics, addicts and their families find hope.
My own battle with addiction was dark and lonely. God’s grace has given me a story to share with people who still live in the shadows. I hope to have a special outreach to addicted people of faith who struggle with doubts about God, fear of God, disappointment with God.
I know what it’s like to lose close contact with the God I love and make a new and deadly friend with a substance that drained my life and spirit. I also know what it’s like to come home. I can help people find their way home through treatment for their addictions.
So I have begun Chrysalis Interventions (www.chrysalisinterventions.com) as a way to educate people about addiction and help them find hope through recovery. People can recover. They can get well. I will reach out to churches and denominations to offer my story and my assistance to that end. I’m willing to go anywhere to share this hope. If you have someone struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, and you’re ready to take action, call me. I can help you. This is the new chapter in my calling.
Whenever I’ve read Abram’s call, I’ve thought about the thrill of faithful uncertainty. He didn’t know where he was going, but he did know who to follow.
That’s where I am in this new chapter of my life and ministry. I have to say, the thrill of this new chapter stirs my heart is ways I don’t believe I’ve ever felt. Without knowing the destination I know Who to follow.
A calling is simply the intersection of gifts, experiences, opportunity, and obedience. My calling at this stage of my life is not nearly as uncertain as Abram’s. I know without a shade of doubt what I am to do. Where this “yes” will take me, and the exact form it will take matters not one whit.
Anyone can say yes to God. A call is not reserved for a certain strata of believers. The ground around the cross is level, and the access to heaven available to us all. What binds me to Abram, to you, and anyone considering their call is a simple decision to trust. There is something profoundly right about trust.
I’m looking forward to this new journey. Please let me know of any way I can help.
Dr. Terry Ellis
October 25, 2015