Many people are called to the ministry—I was called away from it. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Megan and I had moved across the country so that she could attend graduate school and I could attend seminary. I was at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to obtain a M.Div., on my way to a Ph.D. in History—my goal was to teach church history. We had totally worked this out—she had scholarships for UNC, I had scholarships for Southeastern—all we had to do was go to school, work campus jobs, and our plans would pan out.
Things weren't right on Southeastern's campus. 1987 was a bad time to be a Baptist who wasn't a fundamentalist, and Southeastern was at the forefront of the fundamentalist takeover of SBC institutions. It was strange, to say the least. I remember driving home from class one day when the guy in the passenger seat next to me said to me (and I quote), "Get the hell out of there." The only problem was—there was no guy in the passenger seat. But the voice was audible—clear, and loud, and direct, and convincing. So much so that I didn't give it a second thought—the next day I withdrew from seminary and gave up my scholarships and my job. But I certainly didn't have a clue as to what was next—I was walking away from our plan, after all. We had moved across the country for this, and here was that guy in the passenger seat messing it all up.
In short order, I got a job cutting grass, and then got a job at Duke University, and then thought about and applied to law school—and here I am today.
Sometimes, God's intervention in our lives is so subtle we may not notice it, and sometimes God has to jump into the passenger seat and grab us by the collar. The lesson I learned is simple—if you think you might be hearing God speak to you—then listen.
Ed Menger grew up at South Main in the 1960s and 1970s and is married to Megan Ullman.