Please do pray…and please don’t… (Day Nine – His Purpose)
I am a dreamer. Always have been. As a little girl it was a way to escape the harsh reality of my life, and as I grew it was that and a way for me to have hope for the future. My husband is a realist. He’s a “right here in front of you” kind of guy which makes his life much simpler, I think. I have always been looking to the next thing and/or the next place; he’s great at living exactly where he’s at when he knows God has called him somewhere. You know how opposites attract and how differences can compliment one another? This is not usually the case with a dreamer and a live-er.
So many times I have been the source of discouragement for my husband and his calling because it’s not what I dreamed my life should be.
I don’t have this, I’m not here or there, I’m not serving in this way or that, it’s not at all what…I thought…it…would…be.
There is this amazing woman tucked away in my hometown. Her and her husband were/are my spiritual parents. I rarely have connection with them now, but in high school they were nearly everything to me! About 4 years ago, 6-7 months after my first daughter was born, I took a trip to NC to see my best friend’s first born. I stopped in one evening at Mt. Zion, my old church family, as they were having revival that week. (Revival…do any of you miss that? I do!) It just so happened that about five minutes after I sat down, she walked through the door. Our eyes met, we smiled huge, we hugged big, and we made the executive decision to revive each other that evening. So, off we went to her husband’s office.
When I say “revive,” I mean revive! There has never been any other person or circumstance that has made me feel more at renewed in body, heart, mind, and spirit than sitting and sharing with that lady that night. We shared joys, we shared harsh realities, we shared sorrows, we shared prayers we’ve been praying since before I left NC, and then I said, “You and Ken told me I was going into ministry, but you never told me how hard it was going to be.” To which she replied with a smile, something like, “We didn’t want to scare you off!” Truth is, I don’t know if I would have believed her even if she had told me the hard truths of ministry; I was so enamored with how her and Ken served the Lord – you know, with my outside-the-loop perspective. But what I found out that night was this: all the hard I was experiencing, was as Solomon put it, “nothing new under the sun.” Many of the situations are similar, it’s how men and women have dealt with them that are different. I am ashamed to say, I haven’t dealt well.
I was always told to follow my dreams; never once was I taught how to lay down my dreams in order to follow God. I was taught that God had placed these desires within me and so it was His responsibility to work them out. Never was I taught that giving up my dreams, trusting Him with them whether they came to fruition or not, may be the very thing He was asking of me. Never was I taught that supporting another’s calling would be my calling. Again, I am ashamed to say, I haven’t dealt well.
So, today I was reading Day Nine, His Purpose, and I got to this:
“His wife…also hears God’s call on his life and she supports it in every way she can”
“God has called you to something, too. But it will fit in with whatever your husband’s calling is, it will not be in conflict with it.”
And as I read that again, I responded to God the same way I did the first time I read this, “But I have nothing to do with Nathan’s ministry!” I can’t stand beside him on Sundays and sing, a longing I had to give up on a long time ago because y’all, I can’t sing – literally! I also have no interest in or desire to learn code or pixels or how to create images or how to enhance images for websites or publications. I sometimes give him my thoughts on a graphic – which he taught himself how to do, and I think that’s a truly amazing God thing – but I don’t have it in me to want to do that stuff myself. I don’t play an instrument and when it comes to Sunday mornings, I don’t even get to stand beside him and talk to people. I pretty much feel like he has his thing and I…I have our kids and home. (Okay, I can’t believe I’m actually sharing all this. This is real, but I’m not sure many would approve of me getting all this “out there.” I don’t even know that I approve…)
So, as I am reading over this chapter, I am still crying out to God, “Really, all you want me to do is pray?! That’s it!
“Your prayers can help cast away discouragement and keep it from taking hold. It can help your husband to hear and cling to God’s revelation. It can cause him to live his life on purpose.”
And here’s where I have the Peter conversation with Jesus. “But what about that couple? They are able to serve together here/there, in this way/that way, and they seem so effective.” And Jesus replies just as He did to Peter when he wanted to know what John’s call would be, “What is that to you…you follow me.”
Then, as I’m praying for him, the final sentences stop me once again,
“I pray that the desires of his heart will not be in conflict with the desires of Yours. May he seek You for direction, and hear when You speak to his soul.”
See, here’s what I know, Nathan does seek God’s desires. He has not always done this perfectly, but he knows how to lay down his own personal preferences in order to do God’s will. He also seeks God’s direction and voice. It’s me that seeks my own desires and direction and uses the excuse that God must have put them there, so surely He wants them to work out in my life. So, when I pray that desires would not be in conflict with God’s desires for Nathan’s life, it’s mine I’m praying will not be the conflict.
Ladies, this may or may not be every married woman’s story, but it is mine. It is not one I am proud of or even want to admit to. When I get overwhelmed with my selfish thoughts, I go back to Ruth’s biography. I read her prayers about the possibility of marrying Billy Graham. “Lord, if you’ll let me serve alongside him, it’ll be the greatest honor of my life.” (Or something like that.) I read these words and others from this amazing woman who also wanted to be a single missionary but instead became the wife of a traveling evangelist and the stay-at-home (mostly) mother of five while her husband was gone most days of the month. Her disposition, her life, her worth, and her love were founded in Jesus Christ and his glory. When she prayed for God to give her the desires of her heart, I think Ms. Ruth probably understood that He would actually give her – place within her – the desires that come from a life that delights in God. These desires aren’t found or fulfilled in the world, within a selfish heart, nor are they a one size fits all. The details will be different; the purpose will be the same. To honor and glorify God, to build His Kingdom, to live for His pleasure.
So, let me wrap this up with some truth. First, my husband has always encouraged me to find a way to work out my desires and passions where we are at. He has always told me how valuable I am to his ministry and life. He has even asked me what I think I would do when the kids are older (to which I usually get frustrated and weepy because I honestly have no idea…I have no dreams to turn to…yet). My life is not in any way shape or form bad or unfulfilling or less than – my feelings don’t always adequately express my reality. My so-called sacrifices are minimal but they are being used to draw me closer to the One I want to give everything for! Unlike how I sometimes feel, I do believe and know that I have a purpose and a hope and a future in Christ – He has prepared good works for me. And despite the fact that I won’t stand on stage with my husband or even beside him by the church doors any time soon, my prayers for him can be part of helping him to stand in both those places or anywhere else God calls him. Oh, and one BIG TRUTH – being called to be Nathan’s helper is not a lesser calling! This appointment was given to Eve in Eden when all was perfect and when there was no question about men and women being seen as equal before God. Yes people, we are seen as equals before God though our roles are different. And when we are called “helper,” it is not a demotion – Jesus Himself (the Holy Spirit) is called our Helper.
Ladies, pray for your men. Pray that their purposes will be fully fulfilled in the power of Christ Jesus! And please, don’t allow the enemy to have access to any part of your heart, mind, or motivations which will undoubtedly cause you to be a stumbling block to your husband. Instead, stay secure in Christ’s love, and let your prayers give your husband ground to stand on!