Rev Canon Dr John Senyonyi
I had been married for two years, and although I had a wonderful family and a promising position at the Department of Mathematics, there was a persistent and inescapable nudge toward resigning my position at Makerere University to go into itinerant evangelism and the ordained ministry. But I had at least two drawbacks.
My wife, as she often says it these days, was a clergyman’s daughter who had vowed to steer clear of marrying a clergyman.
The girls in the family considered homes of clergy disagreeable because they were too open, public and labour intensive.
Clergy wives slaved endlessly to host the steady flow of visitors.
Secondly, resigning university employment meant loss of reliable and significant income, plus the status of a lecturer! Church then, as now, portended an uncertain future, the kind of thing commonly called ‘a step of faith’! In other words, you employ faith when you cannot see! Some brethren came to dissuade me from taking such a risky step.
The Lord worked on the first objection in his own time and way. All I had to offer was my prayers. He spoke to my wife palpably on two occasions without my insistence, showing her that He was calling us to lay aside my university work and to dedicate ourselves to evangelism and to ordained ministry.
I now know I needed a wife with such a background who knew the nature of life in ministry.
To the latter hesitation, God gave me one godly man, Canon Methuselah Bugimbi, the then dean of Namirembe Cathedral (later first Bishop of Luwero Diocese). He challenged me with a question, “Have you ever seen children of clergy failing to go to school for lack of fees, except when they have rebelled on their own?” I knew of none! That broke my objection.
God has far exceeded my expectations. I am a strong encourager of young people to consider God’s call upon their life, for both ordained and lay ministry. God wants to use you through your profession and beyond it.
However, I warn all to make sure they are doing what God has called them to do.
The gravest mistake is to offer for ordained ministry for status or job placement or some other base interest. Be sure the Lord is calling you before you step out into it.
So God called Isaiah. His encounter with the Lord defined his entire ministry. Throughout his Book, he speaks of the Lord in terms of the revelation he saw – he calls Him, “The Holy One of Israel.” Four instructive characteristics about God’s call stand out in his vision of God.
First, Isaiah got a vision of God’s glory; he saw the Lord. This is the more profound in light of his particular context, namely, the death of the long-reigning righteous King Uzziah. Israel’s king was dead, and Isaiah saw the living King of kings.
Stay with me on this some more. Uzziah was in the grave; the LORD reigns on His throne! Isaiah’s understanding of God and his regard for Uzziah were shattered before he could serve this God. Besides, he heard angels’ never-ending praise for God. Like us, he needed to know that all human glory ends; only the glory of God remains, perfect, transcendent and infinite.
Secondly, Isaiah saw his own inadequacy. This may sound like a contradiction but all of us need to feel inadequate before we become usable.
His inadequacy was complicated by Israel’s obstinate sinfulness. He was unable to help his people. Even sinless angels covered their faces and feet before God’s transcendence and perfection. Our inadequacy is our best and only qualification to be used by Him. We are fittest for His service when lowest in our eyes.
Thirdly, Isaiah was given a vision of the Saviour. He needed righteousness quite apart from his privileged Jewish heritage or his religious devotion. For only the forgiven can preach forgiveness. God sends us to preach a Saviour who is first our personal Saviour.
It is significant that when Isaiah confessed his sinfulness and that of his people, one seraph was dismissed from praising God for a time, to bring grace to this repentant sinner. Forgiveness is God’s priority so that grace can fit us for His work.
Finally, Isaiah had to be available to go! The Lord asked: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” God spoke as if He was at the mercy of Isaiah’s choice! It is God’s deference to us; we are free to make the decision to be available even when He has made His call clear.
Isaiah shows us the right response: “Here I am! Send me.”
The greatest indictment on the church are the saved and Sunday-active Christians but who are unavailable for the Lord’s mission! What about you? If God has given all Christians