The youth group of Parkwood Baptist Church went every year to Fort Caswell, an old Confederate Civil War fort that had been purchased by Southern Baptists earlier in the 20th century and converted to a camp/retreat. I went three times during my high school years. It was the summer after my Junior year that I sensed, during that week, a leading from God -- it was unlike any sensation or contact I'd ever experienced.
It seemed God was saying to me, "I've got a work for you to do -- wait." By nature I am very impatient. But, what else could I do? So, from the time I was "saved" throughout high school, I lived like a high school student. I dated, I did things high school students do -- some good, some not -- and I generally lived like everyone else around me.
My experience in the church at that time was generally what I would see in churches ever since. I saw a great deal of emotion within my peer group. I saw the whole confession, the "forgiveness," I saw kids getting baptized...I'm not sure very much of it was real. The next week they'd be out doing far worse that I ever did -- and I wasn't an angel. It was all emotion -- which meant that vast majority of it, from my perspective, was hypocrisy.
Perhaps that's too harsh. After all, I can't know the hearts of my peers at the time. The fact is, a few of them were very sincere, and truly, I believe, followers of Christ. But many just played the game. Still, I won't sit in judgment. I do claim myself to have truly believed -- yet I did things after my salvation that were certainly not right.
But this "calling," if that's what it should be dubbed, was different than anything else I'd experienced. I knew something was coming -- I just didn't know what.
At the point of this experience at Fort Caswell, I'd never really considered that God did anything more for me than take me to heaven when I died. I didn't even think about Him being interested in my life -- or in my service to Him. I didn't even believe that the Bible was real or true beyond what it said about salvation and living a good life. And the Holy Spirit? Exactly what, or who, was that?...