“I want Jesus to speak to me, to say many things to me, that I may speak for Him to others with real power. It is not knowing doctrine, but being with him which will give this.” – Frances Ridley Havergal 1873
She had me at that first sentence. Wow, somebody who understands that crazy passion inside me…that I’ve had since I was a child. God is good and He has given me opportunities to share with others even as a child. But I just kept looking for one more opportunity, one more Bible study to lead, one more event to plan, or even a way for God to provide for us financially while we worked for Him full-time. Did you catch that we? Eventually I married the man of my dreams. A man who would publicly speak and/or sing of his faith. I knew it! I had always known God was going to put me “in ministry”!
Early in our marriage I became a bit disappointed with our relationship. We didn’t have devotions together daily like I had dreamed. We prayed together but not every day. Mark began his career and children came along. We were active in our church. I participated in women’s and children’s ministry. We were in the choir, did special music, and were a part of an active small group. Mark was even on the leadership team of the church. Somehow, it was only enough for a short time. There was always another ministry opportunity that I believed we should participate in. Sometimes Mark was on board, sometimes he was not. When he wasn’t he suddenly got busy at work and spent less time at home. Did I notice? Sometimes, but often not till that season of life was over. These seasons did not strengthen our relationship. In fact, they caused harm. I allowed my grandiose ideas of my life’s ministry to dictate my happiness at times. My pushing at times made Mark feel like he was never quite good enough, that there was always something more he could or should be doing. At times just that thought caused him to do nothing at all or even act out in other ways. Neither of these responses helped our relationship and eventually there was a fork in the road time. But for many years I just kept bulldozing my way through. After all anything done for God had to be good and God’s will, right?
Well, you can probably see by now what my problem was. I believed that the most important thing in life was ministry and that ministry was done in public, usually as a vocation and that I belonged there. These were not conscious thoughts that I would have told you at the time. There had never been anything else I wanted to do except live for Jesus. How could that be a problem? The problem was it was all about Me, Me and God of course. I somehow put more importance on public teaching, preaching, and serving than loving, serving and providing for your family and neighbors in your own home. (Which I totally saw modeled in my home as I grew up.) I then pushed my agenda on my husband instead of supporting and encouraging him as he led us in ministry. With a noble intent and a whole-hearted gusto I limited God by trying to arrange our life.
Our ever patient, ever teaching and loving God never gave up on me. While I sometimes slip into old habits I have learned that letting Him lead in our life exactly fills that desire in my heart to serve Him. In fact it is even more than I could have imagined because I get to do it with my husband and our family is closer than ever. I didn’t have to give up my dreams. In fact, I needed to allow for them to grow, for God to be God and do them His way. Ephesians 3:20-21a says” Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…” (emphasis mine)
It is recorded that a week after that first quote Frances Ridley Havergal journaled this, “Why should we pare down the promises of God to the level of what we have hither to experienced of what God is “able to do” or even of what we have thought He might be able to do for us?” Why not receive God’s promises, nothing doubting, just as they stand?” I echo her words. Ms. Havergal is the author of the old hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be”.
1. Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
2. Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
3. Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
4. Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
5. Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
6. Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
I can so relate to this, Jody. It took me way too long to realize that the greatest ministry I will ever have in my life is the one of being a wife and a mom. All the other public ministries we’ve been involved with over the years are great but there are some roles that only we can fill…..the roles right under our very own roof. And one of the least public ministries of all is the ministry of intercessory prayer…..and yet, you and I both know the power of that! Thanks for sharing some great thoughts.,