As I was waiting to teach a Bible study, one of the attenders was sharing with the group. She was reminiscing about my husband’s ministry and what it meant to her family. She expressed how much she appreciated his preaching, explaining that she had numerous notations in her Bible from his messages. She went on to say, “and it wasn’t just his fabulous preaching, he was the guy everyone wanted to hang around with”. I’m sure she meant the conversation to be encouraging to me, but as I listened, it only made me more discontented with our situation.
After 17 years of active ministry, my husband suffered a horrible accident in which he suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as several physical injuries. He spent many months going through intense therapy and then attempted to resume some of his duties. He spent three frustrating years trying to return to the ministry he loved so much. In the end, we had to face the brutal reality that he did not have the mental or physical strength to continue pastoring our beloved congregation.
What do you do when your heart is in ministry, but you are not able to continue? How do you handle the fact that your ministry has come to an end through no choice of your own? I have to say, I didn’t always handle it well. I played the “what if” game. I felt like we had given up too easily.
I now have benefit of the perspective that time can give. I have seen God work in our lives in ways far different from traditional church ministry. We have been able to serve in supporting roles for younger pastors. We have cherished the flexible schedule we have to enjoy our children and grandchildren. I have developed my teaching and speaking ministry that I did not pursue while supporting my husband’s ministry.
I, too, have notations in my Bible from my husband’s preaching. Philippians 4 is a precious text that has many comments in the margin, it is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Verse 11 reminds me that I have to learn to be content with whatever circumstances God has given me. Verse 13 reassures me that God provides all the strength I need to do whatever He asks; and verse 19 reinforces the fact that God will supply all my needs.
So, no mater what direction our lives take, whether in official ministry or not, I know that God has a special purpose for us and He gives contentment and strength for whatever He asks.