“I NEED YOU TO PRAY!” my husband said to me one cold January evening after supper. I could not have been more surprised by his urgent statement. I thought I was being a good and supportive Christian wife. After all, we were at Andrews University, far away from friends and family, to fulfill his dreams. Hadn’t I followed him north and endured the
bitter cold so he could achieve his goals? But his request made me I realize I was missing something.
As pastors’ spouses know, moving is a significant part of our lives. We have all moved, or will likely move, several times during the course of our ministry. Until my husband attended seminary, however, I had not experienced such difficulty adjusting to not-so-responsible past financial decisions. It was hard. I didn’t like having to leave my two young children, even though they were being cared for by a person I trusted in our own home. I was resentful, depressed, and angry, in spite of realizing that God had provided me with a very flexible and well-paying job. Thankfully, that first year went by quickly, and my husband started his second year as a full-time student. But I still felt as if we were missing something in our relationship, and that something was missing within me. For some time, before my husband said, “I need you to pray,” I had been refusing to think and pray about some future decisions we needed to make. I did not want this kind of lifestyle—however short it might be. I did not want to be unified in the decisions we could have made together. I did not want to accept the life we had. I was kicking and screaming all the way through.
It was the night my husband asked me to pray that I realized what was missing. I was missing a closeness that comes from praying and trusting God in my life and in my marriage. My husband needed me to be his partner in prayer. He said, “I want us to be together not only physically and emotionally, but spiritually.” I thought, How could that not already
be? I believe in the Bible and all the doctrines like he does! But I was choosing not to trust our Maker. I was choosing to go my own way and to allow strife into our home. I had to ask myself, What needs to happen now?
I came up with two possibilities, which I struggled with. Should I continue to damage my marriage by my resentfulness and have an unhappy home for as long as we both could stand it, or should I trust God, pray for His guidance, and ask Him to change me? It sounds like an easy choice, but for me it wasn’t. I realized that I needed to surrender. I needed
to let go and tell God, “Your will be done, not mine.” Why is it so hard to surrender pride and stubbornness and release control of one’s life?
I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit calling me to surrender, to make peace with my Redeemer. Once I did, I was amazed at how carefree and less stressed I was about our future. All the doubts and barriers I had experienced vanished, and God provided for all our needs. I began to appreciate the value of living with less and being happy. I also learned to trust God to open and close doors as He saw fit while guiding our lives. I began to trust God with my kids and my marriage and my finances. And I discovered what it truly meant to depend on God to provide and not to use the credit card!
These lessons were meant to be learned at the seminary, and I’m grateful that I listened before it was too late. God puts people where they need to be in order to shape their character. Am I allowing Him to do that?
I still don’t know what lies ahead for my family and me, but oh! what relief and joy it is to give my life to Him! How liberating it is! One of my favorite Bible passages is Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).
How can we, as pastors’ spouses, forget that Jesus can carry our burdens? He wants us to be close to Him, to trust Him, because He is the only one who knows us better than we know ourselves. He wants to make our marriages whole. He longs to unify our families. Make no mistake, I believe learning to trust God is an ongoing, lifelong process. I’ve
taken just my first step. But I praise God for never giving up on us, His daughters and sons who are all sinners. He loves you! Will you surrender to Him? May God bless you in your marriage, family, and ministry together. the seminary because of our