Can I still be effective in ministry as a married man?
You started out great, but after that third comma, you made a critical shift in pronouns. If the emphasis is on us, the fear can be almost paralyzing, as it should be. But put the emphasis in its proper place, and the burden is immediately lifted.
Your first thought was, “the Lord seems to be calling ….” Before we get to what it is He’s doing and with whom He’s doing it, let’s feel the weight of the noun of that statement.
This is the uncreated, self-existent God who created all that there is out of nothing, and who is Sovereign Lord of every sub-atomic particle to every galaxy. He laughs at the kings of the earth who take their stand against Him. He raises the dead. He rebukes the wind. He is all-powerful. He knows no boundaries. He is all-knowing. He is all-loving. He never changes. He is adorned with glory and splendor and clothed with honor and majesty. This God, who has promised to equip you with everything good for doing His will, actually and miraculously dwells inside you and has said He will never leave nor forsake you.
The one being called, however, is weak, fearful, worried, self-centered and quite frankly incapable of doing anything for the glory of the One doing the calling.
“I can’t lead a family; I can’t provide for a family; I can’t work a 40 hour week; I can’t socialize; I’ll have problems; I won’t be able to minister.” Does anyone see a pronoun problem here?
Paralyzing fear is the result of magnifying the one being called and shrinking the One doing the calling.
Of course you’re worried and afraid. You have every reason to be — if you’re the one responsible for running your show. If life is about you and your capabilities, then you’ve assessed the future correctly.
But, thank God, life is not about you and your capabilities, or me and my capabilities, or any other human and his or her capabilities.
When we look at the future through our own fallible, clouded vision, we tend to see all that we fear, and if we don’t have God’s help, we should fear it all. But when we see the future through the eyes of God, we have nothing to fear. With God, even death has not even the slightest sting.
When our eyes are on us, marriage and parenting looks daunting. It is a task that — to steal a phrase from Dobson — is absolutely not for cowards. Yet, God calls cowards like us to that which requires unimaginable courage. That tells me that He has a plan to infuse us with all we need to answer that call — and I rely on that every hour of my marriage.
And at the end of the day when I finally fall into bed, the images that roll through my mind are not those of bills, job demands and family responsibilities. They are of smiles, bear hugs around my neck, bedtime prayers, laughter, soccer scores and ballerina twirls; and I think, “It’s going too fast.”
My wife and I look at each other, exhausted from the day, and say, “God did it again.” And we thank Him one more time for His faithfulness and the privilege of The Call.
Practically speaking (as if everything I’ve said up to this point isn’t practical) I believe I’ve matured in my faith at a faster pace, had greater impact for the Gospel, and grown in greater intimacy with Jesus because of being a husband and father, not in spite of it. Biographies of Christian history bear me out: marriage and parenting need not be sacrificed to have an impact for the kingdom of God; on the contrary, it will enhance it if we let it.
In the end, nobody is naturally ready for marriage and parenting. But don’t worry. Get your pronouns straightened out and you’ll do just fine.
Copyright 2007 John Thomas. All rights reserved.