The summer of 1988 took us to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a college recruitment weekend hosted by Oral Roberts University’s School of Theology and Missions. Could this be the seminary we’d been looking for?
Before we left home, and throughout each day of our trip, I had been asking—begging—God to confirm our steps. We were an east coast family. Our small children were growing up surrounded by grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins … you get the picture. Telling our families God had called us into ministry was one thing. But taking their grandbabies halfway across America was a whole different story.
Intuitively, I knew obstacles, criticisms, and doubt would be hurled in our direction. I boldly asked God to show us beyond any shadow of doubt that He had, indeed, called us to the seminary at ORU. In Tulsa. Fifteen hundred miles from home. I wanted more than a good feeling that weekend; I needed something to stand on. I needed something I could hold up as a shield when the opposition came.
We arrived in Tulsa on a balmy Friday afternoon and were quickly immersed in seminary life. Everything about the weekend felt right. We were impressed with the School of Theology. David and I were in agreement about everything the seminary stood for, but I still wanted something more for my confirmation, and I didn’t hesitate to remind the Lord of that.
Chapel was scheduled for Sunday morning. Afterward, we would board the plane for South Carolina. Time was running out. We dressed for the service. I fumbled around packing our belongings, totally distracted. This thing—this calling—was huge. I firmly believed that David and I had heard the Lord correctly, but our family? I couldn’t get past the dread of telling them we’d soon be packing up—
grandbabies and all—and moving to Tulsa. Once again, I prayed, Lord, everything about ORU feels right, but I can’t base this decision on what “feels right.” I need to know that I know this is what You want us to do.
David took my hand, and we hurried over to the auditorium. It was packed with four hundred other prospective students. We found an aisle seat on the fifteenth row. I looked around at the hopeful, eager faces wanting to hear from God. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest with anticipation. Time was short. Within a couple of hours, we would board a plane to Charleston. I needed confirmation—something tangible—I could take back home. The preacher spoke boldly from God’s Word. He charged us to walk in obedience to God’s call. As before, everything felt so right. But “so right” wasn’t what I needed. Lord, I prayed, please. I need something more than feelings.
At that moment—no, I’m not kidding—the preacher stopped mid-sentence. He crossed the stage, walked down four steps and strode up the aisle in our direction. I set my jaw so my mouth wouldn’t fly open as I watched him. He walked with determination, as if on a mission. When he got to the fifteenth row, he stopped. Pointing directly at David, he said, “You, sir, are a leader, and you are called to preach God’s Word.”
Whoa! I think that will do the trick, Lord. Honestly, I almost fell out of my seat. All along, I had been praying expectant prayers, but when God answered in such a profound way, I almost fainted.
Please know, not everyone has such a dramatic confirmation of God’s calling. Remember? He often speaks in a delicate, whispering voice.
Oftentimes, the husband is confident in his calling to pastoral ministry, but the wife is stumbling behind him, trying to keep up, trying to find her place. She may be ecstatic about the possibilities. She may be humbled by the responsibilities and apprehensive about the requirements. Or, she may be angry and resentful that God would require such a thing as this—this calling for her husband. This wife typically wants nothing to do with it.
Reflect on this: We’re all called. We’re all ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. Isn’t that amazing? As pastors’ wives, we have the privilege of holding our honey’s hand as we answer this call.
When your doubts assail you, think on these things. Awaken your heart to hear the voice of the Lord imploring you to be His ambassador. You have been chosen. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Walk in the knowledge that God completely approves of you and dwells richly within you. Once you recognize who has called you and for what purpose, you’ll realize you don’t need to play to the applause of anyone or anything else. You live only to receive the affirmation of Your Father who loved you before you even knew Him. His pleasure and embrace will override the battles that ensue.
(Excerpted from The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife by Nan Jones, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.)
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The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife
Nan Jones ministered alongside her husband for thirty-one years in small, rural churches across North Carolina. She enjoyed the rewards of pastoral service, endured its fiery trials, and learned to find the light and comfort of God’s presence when ministry gets ugly. Nan is a Bible study teacher, author, and speaker who delights in helping Christian women find God in their darkest hours.
As a Christian communicator, Nan realizes that with the gift comes the responsibility–the responsibility of representing the Lord correctly, and the responsibility of being transparent and vulnerable to her audience and readers. She believes it’s in the transparency of struggles and failings that she can connect best with women just like herself who stand amazed at God’s tender love in the midst of the pain. For those who feel abandoned by the Lord, Nan offers reassurance that when we are broken, that is when He is the closest to His child. She teaches how to open our eyes to see Him and open our ears to hear His sweet whispers of love.
Connect with Nan at her website, www.NanJones.com.