Once upon a time, there lived a professional working mother named Eve who had two Ph.T.'s (i.e., Putting Hubby Through), two children under three, and one on the way. Eve could hardly wait for the next four months to finish. She would resign from her current job and open a day care center already approved by the city, to be closer to home. Her husband Adam was to receive a Ph.D., search for a teaching post, and continue as pastor at a bilingual, innercity church.
Then on Sunday night, a call came for Adam from a Caribbean Search Committee Representative to serve on the mission field in Jamaica. Eve asked herself, "Who was this call really for — me, you, or us?"
Over the last 13 years, my husband and I have had to answer God's call and determine if His call was for one, or both of us. We've discovered that His call was for both of us!
In answering God's call as a couple, we have learned four major lessons about His faithfulness:
First, my husband and I prayed "separately" for an answer for three weeks — some days we included fasting. Then we came together to share what the Lord had impressed upon us individually. We received the "same" response, learning that our God is a God of unity, not of division, when He calls a couple to service. As God desires two individuals to become one in marriage, He knows that two can only walk together as they journey in marriage if they agree.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph are a good example of this. God acted in one accord concerning His call for Mary and Joseph to serve in the birth of Jesus Christ, even though they both learned of God's intentions for Mary at different times. (Matt.1: 18-24; Luke 1:26-38)
Obedience to God's call always requires the first step of faith. Being human, we become anxious about the temporal cares on the next steps to come. The prospect of relocating to a third-world country brought with it many cares: raising support, cost of living, children's education, health, parents, family and friends. Then, too, being involved in vibrant church ministry, we had concerns for our successors. Arranging these cares in a nice little "care package," we gave them to God in prayer — "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). He took care of them far beyond all that we could ask or think of in His time before deadlines placed upon us we were due.
Walking in obedience to God's call requires adjustment — some drastic, others moderate, or mild. Our adjustment was drastic — selling possessions, resigning from jobs and ministry involvement, leaving family, church, and friends. From a temporal perspective, it seemed as though we had lost all that we had gained in life at that point in our married life.
God's economic philosophy is quite different from the world's. It is in losing that you gain. The bottom line is not your gain or loss; but His glory. God gave His "all" for His Son's call to invest in the people of the world, to die for their sin. It is only reasonable for us to give all to obey His call to carry His message, investing our lives in others for his glory.
Our gain was doubled — in this life and in the eternal. First, we received an eternal reward for service to Him. Second, as we served, we received a house to live in without mortgage payments, a fulfilling ministry, a partnership with the body of Christ in another part of the world, and "family members" also involved in obeying the will of God.
God identifies with our every emotion. As God calls us into uncharted territory in our lives, He remembers we are human. He knows we get anxious at times and need to know that we have obeyed His direction, and that He is pleased with our decision.
We received major confirmations after we arrived on the mission field from the people we want to serve, and leaders back home. This provided us with encouragement, peace, and an increased motivation to do our jobs as unto the Lord with all our might.
God also gave His son, Jesus Christ, a major confirmation after He started walking in His call. When Jesus was being baptized in the Jordan River, God spoke from heaven affirming His pleasure in His son (Matt. 3:17). Immediately after this affirmation, Matthew further reported that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert phase of His call, which He went through victoriously (Matt. 4:1-11).
Next time God calls, say to your spouse: "This is not all about me. This is not all about you, but this is all about us as we respond to God's call to give Him glory and honor, and to provide Him with the opportunity to prove His faithfulness to us.
Conversations, letters and surveys tell us the concerns you wives in ministry have. About 45 percent of you fear physical, emotional and spiritual burnout. Nearly 60 percent of you work outside the home. Some 45 percent of you tell us you have no close friends. And more than half of you worry about raising your children.
At the basis of your ministry as a pastor and your relationship with Christ as a believer is His love for you.
Some changes of ministry strain the family more than others. Transitions tax people in any occupation, but vocational ministry, with its fuzzy boundaries between duties to church and family, can make a heavy burden even more unwieldy.