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Maple Syrup and Perseverance

perseverance

In obedience to Christ, we are all called to minister to someone, somewhere, at some time. As a mother, I am called first to obedience to Christ, secondly to minister to my husband and children, and then to other women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-5

This is a rewarding thing to do, we reap the benefits surely in our homes and lives if we do it by the Spirit. But ministry is hard. It is tiring. No one really talks about the hurts and pains. Not just physical mind you, yeah getting kicked by a two-year-old is not pleasant, but the emotional strains. Yes, home life is hard, and ministry to other Jesus claiming women is rough. You will experience hurts that you never saw coming. There will be kicks in the teeth by other women. There will be stabs in the back, and even right in your face jabs. It takes perseverance. It takes endurance. Patience is a must. And prayer, oh let me tell you, you will be on your knees constantly. And if you’re not, well, you’re not doing it right!

I never dreamed I’d be a pastor’s wife. I didn’t desire it, choose it, or lobby for it. But God chose me, and my family. My husband received the call to shepherding, and away we went! God is never wrong, no matter how many times I think He might be or try to convince myself that He is. God is always challenging me to persevere. He is constantly reminding me of the things Jesus had to endure in ministry.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Encouragement outside of my prayer time and the Word comes in the most unlikely places. From the young women I am mentoring, from an Instagram post of a woman of faith I’ve never even met halfway across the country, from one of my children even. The rewards for ministering to others, taking care of their needs in any way God provides, and praying constantly may not come this side of heaven. We have to be ready for that. Pouring out my life, all my emotional energy and sometimes even my physical strength can be and is exhausting. I am often drained.

I want all of you women of faith, pastor’s wives, women of ministry, and mentors to know that you are not alone! If the Lord has called you to it, He will equip you, strengthen you, and walk the road with you every step. But, and here is where we often stumble and think God has abandoned us-you must do your part! You must ABIDE! Apart from Jesus you can do nothing. Absolutely nothing at all! All your pursuits will fail eventually. You will only get so far on your own strength, timing and wisdom.

A word of caution. As Christians, we expect the unsaved in our lives to disappoint us, fail us and even hurt us, intentionally and unintentionally. After all, they are not following Christ. They have not received the Spirit of the Living God. It is easy to forgive those that do not know Jesus. It is easier to shine the Light of Truth to those that are perishing, and do not know better. So what do we do with those that claim the name of Jesus, and hurt us?

Let me tell you something that is often overlooked. In the many years we have been involved in ministry, as interim pastor, as worship team member and leader, children’s ministry and even as head pastor and wife, we have been consistently wronged, taken advantage of and vilely hurt by none other than God’s own people more than any other “people group” in our lives. It has been surprising to us that the unsaved in our lives typically have more integrity, honesty and loyalty than the saved. That is not to say that there aren’t good, honest God-fearing and honoring people in our lives. There are. A few very close families come to mind that we consider not only friends, but family. But the majority of our hurts, conflicts and wrongs have come from “friendly fire”, people of God, members of our very own congregations.

What makes God’s people behave badly, stomp on people intentionally (and unintentionally) and act like it is no big deal? Do they not know better? They have been taught the Word. Do they not care? I’ve prayed with these women. I’ve hosted them in my home, cared for them when they were sick, held their babies, and brought them food. Yet consistently my children have observed God’s people acting badly, hurting our family, and tearing friendships and fellowships apart.

We’ve had elders, youth leaders, worship leaders, friends, and acquaintances disregard parental authority and encourage disobedience and sin in our family and congregation, to the point of disregarding the very Word of God. This has resulted in an entire fellowship of believers torn in two. People have left fellowship and have said horrible things about us and to us because we treasure God’s Word and the authority of scripture. Name calling and gossip have become the norm. I fear that my children will see this pattern and decide that God’s people are more hurtful than His enemies and leave the church. It is my hope and prayer that our faithfulness through these trials and God’s provision and hand on us at all times will be testimony to His goodness and keep them in the fold.

Why do we continue in ministry you may ask? Well, to be sure, we have prayed long and hard and asked if we have been released from ministry. God continues to answer our prayers in unique ways letting us know we are not done yet.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 11:29

We know we are called to minister to the believers in our community. We are called to preach repentance, Christ and Him crucified. Our church body may be small, but it doesn’t matter the number, only that there is work for us to do in God’s kingdom. God calls us daily to persevere. To endure.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

He calls you daily to persevere too! Women of ministry, working in the nursery, teaching Sunday school, pastor’s and elder’s wives, He sees you. Mother’s of crying babies or defiant teens, special needs mamas, empty nesters, or women that are praying for babies to come, He hears you. All of you who feel alone, forgotten, battered and bruised in this world, He is working His plan in you for your good. Have hope! He loves you! Keep going. Endure. Persevere.

The fruit you are bearing in enduring is so sweet.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5

… so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Colossians 1:10-11

Keep going. You are not alone. Persevere. Please comment below if you’d like prayer, or an ear to hear you, a friend in Christ to share with. I’ve been weary too. I’ve felt like quitting. I’d like to encourage you to continue on in your calling. To release bitterness, forgive, move forward and praise God in all things!

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