The beginning of January marked six months in our new home. Life and ministry in our small, unincorporated town has been everything we prayed and hoped it would be. And the last thing I'd want is for this wonderful (and huge!) part of our lives to get lost in the shuffle of blog posts filled with photographs and creative pursuits.
I'm married to a baptist preacher. It's fun and funny to write that. (You should say that first sentence with a deep, southern accent.) (wink) And today, I wanted to share two decisions, commitments really, that Steve and I made when we first moved here. I realize that I hardly am qualified to give ministry advice, but on the other hand, I've learned over the last couple of years that a good word spoken at any time is just that-- good. And I believe, with my whole heart, that what I am about to write is valuable, not because I am writing it but because God impressed it on our hearts.
First, we committed to ask the Spirit's help in not speaking ill of any person in our body of believers. This is a lesson that we've learned the hard way in previous years and I'm sure we've fallen already in our first six months. But, somehow, having that commitment between ourselves in front of God has felt like a safeguard in so many ways. Second, we decided when faced with overwhelming advice, whether good or bad, to wait until the next day to discuss the conversation again. Somehow, and thankfully!, suggested changes don't seem as overwhelming when a good night's sleep has been thrown in.
Last, (and let me just set up my microphone and get my soap box adjusted just right) (smiling wildly) I'd like to banish the idea that ministry, or marriage, or life, has a honeymoon stage. If we are honest, we know, we absolutely know that life will have its difficulties. And if we believe in the sovereignty of God, we also know that those deserts, those difficult times, are for our good and the glory of God as much as the mountain-top experiences. And so, if I could say one last thing, it would be this-- don't tell people, who are headed into ministry and thrilled to be doing so, to expect a honeymoon stage followed by belly-of-the-whale moments. Instead, tell them of the grace and goodness of God that is there for the taking "in the land that is plentiful where Your streams of abundance flow" and there "when I'm found in the desert place though I walk through the wilderness." Blessed be your name.
*There is hardly a time that I can sing through Matt Redman's beautiful song Blessed Be Your Name without tears streaming down my face. It was the song that God gave to us when we lost so much, when we felt so many things being pulled away from our lives, only to reveal the greatest Joy for our lives.