Just As I Am
"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as He did those from beyond our nation?"
Acts 15:10-11 (The Message)
If you have ever read my biography, you know the very first advice I was given after my husband was called to ministry was to "learn to play the piano! Churches will be more likely to ask Luke to be their pastor if you can play the piano!"
That well-meaning man had no idea he was ordering up a Ruth Graham to be incarnated from a Roseanne Barr. I didn't play an instrument! I couldn't sing! I was a rough-around-the-edges, one-year-old babe in Christ who barely knew how to pray and yet this man was telling me my husband didn't have a chance unless I could become what I then considered to be a 'typical' pastor's wife.
I never learned to play the piano, but I did do my very best to mold myself into the Perfect Preacher's Wife in every other way. I tried to keep my loud mouth closed and become more reserved - demure even. (That is SO laughable to me now!) I said goodbye to my large, funky earrings and default black clothing. I was the only twenty-two year old I knew who was shopping in the Misses Department for elastic-waisted pants and birdhouse embroidered sweaters. I made sure to take casseroles to every church meal and volunteered for any available position. You can thank me now for sparing you the rest of this never-ending list.
I did all this because I desperately wanted to be an asset to Luke and a jewel in God's crown. In those early days, my understanding of being worthy had everything to do with meeting other's expectations. Externally, I suppose I was shaping up nicely but on the inside, I was miserable. The challenge to live up to an unwritten code of Preacher Wife conduct was exhilirating as I checked off another issue on my "To Re-Do" list. However, what began as a thrill quickly became a yoke and it wasn't long until I realized I was making everyone happy except me.
I imagine the feelings were similar for the early Gentile Christians who were overjoyed over receiving the salvation offered by Israel's Jehovah - The One True God of all heaven and earth. It wasn't long until the Judaizers came along and laid the burden of the Law upon their new found freedom. Undoubtedly, some of the Gentiles attempted to live up to this standard because they believed in order to please God, they must please His Chosen People. The Jewish Christians, though they believed salvation had been extended to the Gentiles, still thought the Greeks must become proselytes or what I call, 'little Jews', in order to inherit the Kingdom. Paul's ministry was revolutionary in proving Gentiles did not have to become Jewish in order to receive God's gift of grace. Salvation had been given directly to the Gentiles, free from any obligation to the Jewish way of life.
The Gentiles had to be so relieved to know by the blood of Jesus Christ, God accepted them as they were - with their own culture, their own customs, their own personalities. They did not have to look like someone else or adhere to the Mosaic Law in order to be loved and greatly used by God in the Kingdom. The Jews in turn had a hard pill to swallow - God had turned his affections to a foreign people in order to cause His chosen ones to be jealous again for their special relationship to the Father.
I have a few questions for you to consider. Have you embraced your life as a worthy one which God can use? Do you believe the only requirement in being useful to God is believing on the spilled blood of Jesus? Are you trying to live up to another's expectations and find yourself falling short? Has this resulted in a sense of inferiority which causes you to shrink back from opportunities to serve Christ through His church body?
If any of these are true for you, please know one thing: All God expects from you is your 'yes'. Your unwavering obedience. Your desire to know Him and His Word. He doesn't need you to waste time craving another woman's ministry - He desires for you to embrace your own. This truth was one I needed to hear, loudly and often. When I began asking God to make me want His will, He was very faithful in lining up my desires with His. He helped me to understand my personality and interests were given to me by Him. Most importanly, He made it clear He had never asked me to lay aside my uniqueness to become more like someone else. He wanted me, just as I am.
If you have no idea where to begin in finding your place in the body, ask yourself, "What do I like?" Love scrapbooking? Work on church bulletin boards. Like writing? Start a women's ministry newsletter. Hungry for God's word? Teach a kid's discipleship class. Children are so forgiving and God will not be mad if, with a sincere heart, you accidentally tell them Noah's ark was oak instead of gopher wood!
I recently heard a wise pastor say, "It's much easier to steer a moving car." God's word to you today?? Get going! You can adjust your ministry, but you won't know in which direction until you put it in 'Drive'. And whatever service He asks of you, I can promise on experience it will be as unique as the woman He created to do it.
He wants you, girls! Just like you are.
Please visit my personal blog, The Preacher's Wife.