Back when I was 16 years old, I experienced one of those abundant seasons of life. In my 16 year old mind and heart, God and I were BFFs, and I do mean “for realz.” While that might have been my lingo if I were 16 today, that was literally the depth of what I felt for God. He was real to me, and wherever He said to go, I would have gone! You have to understand that prior to that, I didn’t always feel so keen on going wherever He led me. I had just spent a couple of years arguing with Him about why He picked MY family to live in Venezuela as missionaries. At 16, in the States on a furlough, I came to know God in a way I had not previously known Him. It was real, raw and my heart was moldable. What did God say to me? I can remember it as if it were yesterday! I knew beyond any doubt that the calling on my life was to be the wife of a Pastor. Seeing as I had grown up a pastor’s kid, and at that time, a missionary’s kid, I wouldn’t say I was scared of that life, but anxious for what would lie ahead.
Fast forward about 4 years…Jeff and I were engaged and NEVER had the subject of him being a pastor come up! Never! We sat in a church service where a challenge was given to follow God, to answer His call. I look up and see Jeff heading to the front, the pastor later telling everyone that Jeff was answering a call to full-time ministry. I would like to say that I answered my own call with deep, loud faith to marry Jeff without him knowing he was called to be a Pastor, but for me, it was always a quiet, abiding faith. Knowing I would be the wife of a pastor was just IN me. No, I didn’t understand how that would flesh out in my life, but I did not doubt He would use me. Have I doubted since?
In 1998, Jeff served as a Pastor in the Pee Dee area of SC. I was content to be by his side, supporting him, loving him, listening to him…and I firmly believe that is so vital to my calling…but I began to hear God nudging me to be more up front…talking in front of others, being vulnerable. He began to speak to me about getting a group of ladies together and study His word together. I thought I would puke! Contrary to those of you who know me now, I was absolutely NOT a talker, nor did I have a desire to be! I fought God and gave Him a list of excuses a mile long as to why I could NOT do this, but He wouldn’t leave me alone. So, I prayed over who would be a part of this group and I wrote each name down…8 ladies in all. As I put the word out we would meet for Bible study, guess who came? Yep, those 8 ladies. They sat under my teaching week in and week out, of course hearing God’s word for them personally, but never really knowing how they were being used to shape my calling.
I look back on that time of my life in a such a profound way. I’ve never forgotten how something as simple as God leading me to sit in a little room with a bunch of ladies sharing how God’s word speaks to me and how it can speak to all of us was used to affirm God’s calling on my life. Today, Jeff and I speak of following His calling as “putting our ‘Yes’ on the table.” My “Yes” was on the table. I was scared. I still am scared.
I’ve been reading from Acts this week, and I’m so encouraged as I look back on knowing just what God had called me to. You see, it wasn’t to teach ladies a Bible study, or just do whatever I could do to support Jeff. It has simply been defined by loving others well. Here, 15 years later in ministry, I haven’t always loved others well. I get frustrated over being misunderstood because my life is so much in a fishbowl. I sometimes feel like people aren’t being genuine with me, and if I don’t become their BFF, they accuse me of not being genuine with them. It’s hard sometimes. How do we find that joy in our calling when things are tough, or we find it hard to muster the energy to do it all again the next day? I remember this…“You are to be a key witness to everyone you meet of what you’ve seen and heard.” Acts 22:15 MSG Everyone needs to know Jesus. Everyone is craving to be loved. I can get caught up with other’s opinions of me as a Pastor’s wife, but here, in this moment of my life, I’m 16 again. He’s real. He’s raw with me. I genuinely love my brother and my sister. Read Acts 22 in it’s entirety. You will see things like, “Someone else can do it better than me,” or “So and so is more qualified than me.” Sure, that will always be true, but what is God calling you, and only you to do…love only whom you can love. Romans 9:25 MSG “Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.” You are someone’s “somebody”. Someone is waiting on you to answer the call to love them.