Smooth sailing…sorta!

Selfishly, I was glad to leave the “mean” church.  I thought my husband’s spirits would be lifted, if we left there.  I thought my husband’s drive and thirst for the Lord would be revived.  When my husband said we were leaving, I said a silent HALLELUJAH and gave the Lord an imaginary high  five.  I told my husband that I supported him 100% in whatever decisions he makes for our family.

Consider this…Jonah’s ships sailed fine until it was far enough from shore, where the waters are deep enough for a great fish to linger below.  This is where we were. Resting comfortably in the calm before the storm, still not too far from shore.  Just like the sailors on Jonah’s ship, I was content that we were moving to a new destination and unaware of what lay ahead – in a blissful state of ignorance.  We left the country church!  Yay! Right? I celebrated no longer enduring the stench of chicken coops on the way to church. I did not miss the sight of cotton fields or the unusually large mosquitoes that greeted me at the church door.  I boarded the ship with trusting my husband’s leadership as my guide.  I believed in his strong faith and his commitment to his call.  I sort of idolized his anointing which made me a bit blind to reality.  Time passed without a dark cloud in sight.  Our conversations were less tense.  We were smiling and laughing more.  We focused on the kids and developing our financial service business. There seemed to be a beautiful  blue sky above with melodious birds all around us. But as the time grew, we got farther away from land.  The sea grew deeper below us.  More time was spent  without a church home, without my husband seeking ministry opportunities, and without family bible studies or prayer.  I started to question my confidence in his leadership.  None of this seemed right.  His insecurities about ministry were getting the best of him! I didn’t want to ask how he was really feeling because I just didn’t want to make him feel worse.  I knew he was hurting and still questioning himself.  But I was uncertain how to approach the subject without sounding like I was doubting him.  So one Sunday morning the kids barged into our room announcing that church would begin in five minutes.  They came in properly prepared with their bibles and hearts open to worship.  My daughter sang a few songs, my son read the bible and told us what the verse meant to him.  They prayed and then urged us, “We need to go to church somewhere.”  Out of the mouths of babes!  Thankfully, God has a way of getting your attention!  Even while traveling in the wrong the direction (for my husband traveling this way on purpose), God’s love and mercy has not bounds.  His desire to help us get is right is so GREAT!  He nudged my husband then to snap out of it!  When the kids left the room, my husband explained that we were taking a break from ministry for a while.  He said that we’d find a church and be anonymous.  He said that we were going to sit back and be fed.  A period of restoration is how he described it. This new church was bigger than any we’d been a part of.  Our amen’s were just one of many in a pool of boisterous voices.  There was no pressure here to be in the Pastor and wife spotlight.  No worry about what to wear, what not to say or do.  Anonymous was a temporary pleasure.  Though “period of restoration” sounded good it didn’t feel right.  As a very critical thinker, I think in equations. I wondered what is the recipe for a period of restoration? If you are called to Pastor and/or preach, is it ok with God to do NOTHING?  Even if we take a break for a while, how long is this suppose to last?  What had God told him to do?  Those questions were bubbling inside of me but I tried to stay caught up in the laziness of just showing up and leaving church in one and a half hours.  I was cruising on the “restoration ship” with my husband but being pestered by these questions in my head made me UNEASY. Let’s spend a little time picking apart uneasiness.  That uneasiness was the Holy Spirit prompting me to be weary of this new phase of life and to be expectant of something big coming on the horizon.  When you do not feel right about something, you need to respond to it and not ignore it.  Question number one: is this pleasing to God?  If your answer is, I am not sure, go to the Word.  What does the Word say about your situation?  Proverbs 3:5-6 advises us  “…lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”  The nervousness that I felt, the uneasiness that ruled my days constantly even in smooth sailing on Jonah’s ship was because God needed me to stop being naive.  I knew we weren’t following the Lord. It became more and more clear that my husband was running from the Lord. Though my husband is called to lead the family, he was leading us into a storm.  The Lord hadn’t made these travel plans, we were on the wrong ship. 

Jonah 1:5 – …But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 

There we were, anonymous in a huge church with a personal storm brewing closely ahead.  I could see it coming.  In the distance there were ominous clouds, a faint sound of thunder and crashing furious waves.  And what was my husband doing?  Sleeping!  He’d sunk deeply into a spiritual numbness.  He kept his spiritual blinds shut.  Asleep in the sense that he wasn’t seeking a deeper knowledge of the Word.  This had been his daily mission before.  His spiritual life had come to a halt.  I hadn’t  seen his Bible move from its place on his desk for many months. In fact it had become dusty.  The study materials that he used to prepare a message were tucked away in bags.  His laptop was unused.  How was this part of “restoration”?  The facade cracked.  From the lens called reality, I looked long and hard at him.  His demeanor had changed. This is when I asked the question, “How long do you think this period will last and what can I do to help?”  His answer was resentful and terse.  “What? I don’t know and don’t ask me that again!” At this point, I realized even with a golf umbrella, the kids and I were still going to get soaked in the storm that inevitable was on the way.  And so we did…


Before Boarding, far from the shore..

Though Jonah’s ship was waiting for passengers at the far off shore, we could only catch a faint glimpse of it.  We were inland. Laboring for the Lord…

He began his sermon with a song.  The words of the hymn resonated through the church and quickly awakened the hearts of the listeners.  The Spirit of the Lord engendered shouting of amens and hallelujahs.   “Great is the Thy Faithfulness” was not a song that he sang because he liked to hear himself sing or enjoyed the compliments of the congregation.  It was song that ministered to him.  After the song, the Spirit guided him through a powerful message of hope.  People responded to the message passionately.  Hearts were softened.  Some came to the altar for prayer, rededication or the greatest victory – accepting Christ.  I was thankful that God was using him in such a mighty way.  I was proud of him!  I was astounded by how he humbly allowed God to use him.

Like Jonah, my husband is a church boy.  The epitome of a child who practically grew up living at the church.  The son of a truly great, godly man who founded a small church.  My late father in law pastored  for forty-five years.  He gave my husband the kind of example that one would expect from a pastor.  He consistently sought the Lord as his GPS for raising his seven children.  He showed my husband how to be a good husband, and a good father.  Growing up in the Word, my husband knows the Bible’s life principles. At a young age he showed a gift to minister in song. His anointing shone brilliantly when he sang solos. Many people told him he’d be a minister but he would not let their accolades determine his walk.  Though he felt the tugging to the preaching ministry, he prayed and waited for a confirmation God.

If your spouse, fiancee, boyfriend or girlfriend is seeking this confirmation, run!  No, I am kidding.  Pray!  Pray for the message to be clear.  Pray for a shield of protection around them because piercing arrows of discouragement are soon to come.  Pray for strength to know how to support him as the one true confidant.  The one who can listen, encourage and love hard in the midst of the rarely mentioned ugly moments of church leadership.

Jonah…Another Look

Most people know the biblical story of Jonah.  They know that Jonah was a man of God, who ran from God’s plan.  As a consequence he ended up in a big fish and then begrudgingly went ahead  and did what he was called to do. Most Christian studies of Jonah are intended to encourage the disobedient minister. This is not that kind of blog.  This blog recounts a modern story of Jonah from the point of view of a passenger on Jonah’s ship.  It’s from the perspective of one who knowingly traveled with a man who thought that he escaped God’s plan for his life.

My husband is Jonah!   I live on Jonah’s ship.  This blog resulted from knowing my journey on the ill-fated voyage with a man who lost passion to fulfill God’s plan for his life is not that uncommon.  But talking about it is.  Talking about anything that doesn’t make us look like saints is taboo in the church.  We do the famous Christian gloss over.  We try to sound spiritually deep to cover up our pain.  We keep quiet the true struggles because we fear embarrassment.  Yet we miss that our transparent, out loud walk through the storm is for God’s glory.  This blog is for His glory.  Though it will address the impact of a husband’s choices, it is written to give light to the OMNIPRESENCE of God.  In the very midst of the storm, on Jonah’s ship, there is GROWTH.  There is JOY in the midst of pain.  There is CLARITY in the cloud.  There is DELIVERANCE from the depths.

Travel with me as I recount an unabridged story from a sinking ship.  Please share your thoughts and testimonies.  It is from this transparent canvas that we can and will inspire those who need it the most – the seasick voyager in the ocean of despair.