Ok, so God answers prayer. Sometimes He does it in a way that knocks your socks off and then you have to live with the answer.
We have been in a period of calm for about a year. Our lives are busy, but comfortable and I think we manage our time well. We are coming out of a turbulent time and finding that God gave us a rest period we are so grateful for. There have been no deaths, court hearings, health crisis or moves for the last few months and I just traded in my 10 year old flannel sheets for a bargain priced superior thread count sheet set to go under my down comforter. My life is pretty great.
Within my relationships in real life and my contacts online, I know I am not alone in being frustrated at what I perceive to be the lack of spiritual motivation my husband has had. The last few years I have been learning that a wife’s role is called “helper” not “boss”. We have struggled in our marriage on this issue as I try to find ways to “encourage” my husband. Let’s be real, sometimes it’s been ugly. When I think about al those books I bought and “suggested”, the seminars I signed us up for, and the pouting and self-righteous indignation I have held onto, I feel foolish. I know deep in my heart that my husband’s relationship with God is between them, God works in His time, and the best thing I can do is to pray, pray, pray…while I continue to work out the speck in my own eye.
We have been in our new church for almost 9 months now, and on Sunday we had a guest speaker, a missionary. I knew we would see pictures of people in another country, likely starving and destitute and that familiar frustration with my husband reared it’s head. When I hear about these things I start to have a lot of feelings, and wonder what I can do to help the situation. My husband doesn’t respond in the same way, and when we try to discuss it, it goes nowhere. I began to discipline myself to pray when this happens, as sort of a release valve so that my frustration stays between me and God. I asked God to break my husband’s heart for the things that break God’s heart. I was praying out of obedience, without any expectation it would actually change anything. I was sincere but, I prayed that prayer as an effort to obey God in respecting my husband as the man God created him to be, I was not expecting an immediate answer.
Interestingly, my husband was moved by the presentation. The missionary work is centered around a medical clinic and my husband is a registered nurse. My husband made contacts with the people in charge to sign up on the interested list for the missions journey….to Africa. This whole situation was way out of my husband’s comfort zone and I was stunned. My husband told me later that day, something about this presentation was different than the other presentations he had seen. He told me God had moved in his heart to have a passion for those people and that he didn’t want to go for the sake of traveling to another country, or improving his image, but that it was on his heart to HELP those PEOPLE. Insert my pleased reaction at how God reached out and touched my husband, could our lives be going any more perfectly?!
I was so in awe of this man stepping out of his comfort zone in response to God and then he said, “but they asked me if I was interested in long term or short term missions”. Um, excuse me? This is about the time my stomach started to turn and my heart started to panic. He told me short term was two weeks and long term was months. Um, ok, what the heck just happened? My husband assured me he was only thinking short term for now, and that the two week trip was likely to occur early this fall.
It would be wonderful to say that I felt thankful, joyful and supportive, and on the outside I think I looked that way, but my insides were going crazy. Reality began to set in. This country is in the midst of Civil War, the northern portion just imprisoned a pregnant woman and sentenced her to death for being a Christian. My thoughts started to panic me a little when I followed the logical train of thought to what if my husband never returns? What if God wants me to give up my sheets and move to Africa? What about my children? Why did the suggested reading book for volunteers “happen” to be in my book order that arrived on Saturday?
The missionaries stayed at our church and we had the opportunity to hear them speak two more times. The mother said something that spoke to me; there was a chance something could happen to harm her family or her children, but that “there was no safer place to be, but in the center of God’s will”. This family follows God’s will in the manner God chooses. This reminds me that I have a lot to learn, I have so much room for growth and I am thankful that God patience with me when He answers my prayers and I get freaked out.
My husband’s work has a ban on vacations during the time period of this trip. It will take a miracle for him to get the time off and for everything to fall into place for him to go. I am excited to see how God works in my husband, and mostly in me, in the remainder of this year. I am still panicky, I am still uncomfortable about the whole thing, but I am also excited and committed to trusting God and falling into his plan in every way. I have been spiritually restless, and I thought I was prepared for whatever God called us to do. I also thought I knew what that may be. Surprise! God’s plans are better, bigger and stranger than you could ever imagine. I don’t have to be involved in the planning, I have enough work just being obedient. Whether or not my husband goes to Africa this year, my eyes and heart have been opened to face the question – how far are you willing to go to obey?