I rarely write just from this perspective because, for me, being a church planting pastor's wife is just part of the flow of my daily walk with the Lord. I would choose to work in the church in some capacity, whether I had the 'title' or not. I did before I became a pastor's wife over 30 years ago, and I continued even when we took 13 years off from the ministry. I never took a break from God's people, His Church, or the local body of believers.
I believe, as the Bible says, the 'Church' is the Bride of Christ and that the located ministry of the church is God's design to encourage one another in our daily walk with Him. As it says,
And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encourage each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25We, as the body of Christ, need a local body that will not only encourage us, but also be a place where we can go to encourage others. It should be a safe haven, a place of healing, but also a place where we are challenged to walk closer to God daily. A place that helps us learn to 'practice the presence of God' every single day of our lives.
We should leave each service ready to show the world in which we live…our homes, our workplace, our communities…the love of Christ. Not just with our words but with our actions.
That's how it should be and is for the most part. But the local body of believers...wherever it may be located is made up of many types of people. We are all in different places, or levels of maturity, in our walk with God and some have yet to choose the path that God has for them. We are all capable of falling away from the life God has called us to, even as far as falling into the traps set by the enemy.
|But he that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.|
Anne Bronte, The Narrow Way
As a pastor's wife, and particularly a church planting pastor's wife I have seen both sides of the same coin.
- The great reward of having front row seats to witnessing the amazing change that the Word of God and His Holy Spirit bring about in the hearts and yes, sometimes the circumstances of men and women's lives.
- The heartbreak of those who, instead of choosing God's way, try to figure out life on their own…even though their present circumstances resemble a bad train wreck. As the hubs likes to say, "How's that working for you?"
Let me break it down on a more personal level:
The reward:I personally love to meet with women and teach them how to look at their lives through the lens of the God's Word, the Bible.
It is so rewarding to see women grasp hold of the love that God offers as well as the wisdom from His word and begin walking it out in their day-to-day life. Living it out in their homes, their workplace, and their communities.
I am encouraged to see the joy that comes from applying the principles of the Bible to everyday living. To see a woman transition from a life of worry and misery to a life of peace and contentment, even in the midst of serious trials, is indeed a rewarding thing.
I love witnessing the transformation…seeing the light in their eyes as they begin to realize their true worth and beauty as a woman created in the image of their Creator. The realization that she is forgiven and redeemable and not forever broken and worthless transforms a woman like nothing else I have ever witnessed. The very countenance on her face changes as the reality of exactly who she is in Christ sets in…such a beautiful countenance as the Holy Spirit comes in to set up residence in her heart.
I feel like a proud spiritual mother when a woman begins to understand her own calling and watching her step out, as a baby bird leaves it's nest, and begin to serve other's in the way God intended. Not my definition of who she should be, but God's. Not pride in my part of this in any way, but so very proud of the way she has allowed God to direct her paths as she begins to grow into the woman she was created to be. A woman who finally understands her purpose in this life blooms into beauty; one who is confident, yet humble.
The heartbreak:One of my greatest sorrows…seeing a woman begin to understand her standing with Christ and walk toward Him…only to find the road, or her limited understanding of it, too difficult to travel. She turns back at the first trial in the new life available to her…she begins to long for the old ways and turns back to what she was familiar with. Slipping back on the old life like a pair of familiar, comfy, and worn out pajamas.
Witnessing the broken and fallen men and women coming into the church, as well as those who still refuse to test the Lord to see if He is good. My heart breaks when I hear some of their stories…stories that only the enemy of the soul could orchestrate with the intent to destroy the heart and soul. Yes we are all fallen…that's why we all need the redeeming work that Christ carried out on the cross so long ago. We need a savior and it is a privilege to lead others to my savior and see them embrace Him as their own. But still…the stories break my heart.
As a pastor's wife, my heart breaks when I encounter those who are within the church body, taking on the personal mission of tearing down the pastor and/or his wife. I have seen it and heard it told in the lives of many of my fellow pastor's wives, and heard the pain they carried from the attacks. But to be completely honest and open about this issue as it applies to me as a pastor's wife, I never really experienced the critical naysayers within the church directed at myself or one of my ministries, even of the hub's ministry, as I have, in recent years. At a time when I need the encouragement of fellow believer's most, I have been either attacked or just left as an orphan of sorts. And that is…well…heartbreaking.
I know that God's got my back. I rest in that. I try not to let the arrow's of critical naysayers affect my moving forward into this thing God has called me to. It is really hard not to respond to the latest nit-picking criticism with the facts that would prove them wrong. The ones that have a tendency to get under my skin are the personal attacks given in a self-righteous tone by those who tend to be mostly talkers of the Word rather than doers of the word. But I know that it really doesn't matter. They will believe lies until they turn to God for the source of Truth and not to gossips. It makes me want to cry out as the LORD did with His chosen people:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. ~Matthew 23:37
The real issue is not against those people…it is not against flesh and blood. It is against the enemy of my soul…Satan. He enters into the battle with a vengeance when we are about the business of bringing people into the Kingdom of God. He hates that! He hates us. And the harder he battles against this mission the harder we will fight for God. I will not be discouraged by the minority …the skeptics, the doubters, the naysayers, the gossips, the jealous, or even those who are just angry at everything…we just happen to be on their latest list of people to criticize. Even when I want to just quit and run away, I will not. God is in control.
The enemy still has battles, skirmishes, to fight in this world and he does win from time to time, but the WAR has already been won. The enemy knows he is already defeated and he wants to take down everyone else in his path to destruction. Misery loves company, as they say.
The promise and the hope:My choice will be to rest in the Lord. I will surrender into His arms, into His peace, and into His rest. He will be my sanctuary. I will rest in the promise of His word:
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. ~Exodus 14:14He will go before me and fight those battles, clearing the path. Only His path will bring about that 'peace that passes understanding'…that peace that does not make sense in the midst of tribulation and trial. When the world around me fails, He does not. And yes, even when we as individuals within the body of Christ fail to walk as He has called us to, HE does not. His love never fails.
The truth is that ALL of us have theses battles in our lives, whether we happen to be a pastor's wife, a church planting pastor's wife, or a woman (or man) whose heart it is to love the Lord and serve. If we are about the business of our heavenly Father, we will face trials of many kinds in this life on earth (John 16:33). But we have our Heavenly Father in the ring, fighting for us. As Paul says in Romans, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) We have His promise in the Word:
No, in all these things, we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! ~Romans 8:37-39What are you battling today? Are you ready to let go, and let God take over?