Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Because I Love You

Humbling moments. We all have them. Whether they come at the perfect time or couldn’t occur at a worse moment, it is in our most humble moments that we sometimes get the best perspective.

My latest humbling moment - and they DO happen frequently – took place this morning. This is going to be an extremely busy semester, and I’ve been trying to mentally prepare for it since around Thanksgiving. Frantically attempting to cram our crazy life into seven 24-hour days looked as jumbled in my planner as it felt in my mind.

Full-time job, pastor’s wife, seminary student, fitness coach…where does it all fit? Not to mention my husband’s insane schedule. James and I don’t even have kids in the mix (unless you count the 70+ in the college ministry), and we already feel time collapsing around us. I can hear the same advice I’ve heard from a million sources in my life echo in my head: “Your life will never be any easier than it is right now.”

That advice makes me sick to stomach.

I think I have equal respect and resentment for the women in my life who have modeled being a pastor’s wife well for me. How did they make it look effortless? As many times as I have seen this selfless life lived out through countless staff wives, (And as a pastor’s kid, I’ve even seen it in my own home), I never realized how challenging it is.

Most of them have full-time service-based jobs (teachers, nurses, secretaries, etc.), and come home to endless tasks including cooking, cleaning up after dinner, laundry, and helping kids with their homework. Maybe a couple in her husband’s ministry needs some counseling, so they might come over after the kids are asleep. Or she might cook a double recipe to take dinner to a church member who had a relative pass away. Finally, when her work is done, she lays down to sleep – only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

I never knew how exhausting it must have been for my mom to rush in from work, quickly change her clothes, and jump back in the car to take me wherever I needed to be next. I know there were a few times that I thanked her, but I know it wasn’t every time. Not even close.

I was sitting at my desk at work about to begin my next task when I saw I had a new email. It was from my mom, and the subject simply said: Because I love you! At the sight of my mom’s email address, I felt water form in my eyes. Speaking of incredible pastor’s wives, here’s the queen herself. I’m not sure that little girl in me will ever go away. My mother may have transitioned in my life to be one of my best friends, but she will still always be my mommy too.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the message and read:

My dear Michelle,

I know you and James are extremely busy right now. I wish I could just sneak in your house and clean it from top to bottom, get all the clothes washed and back in the closets and drawers, strip the bed and get fresh linens on it, go to the grocery store and get all your favorite foods and stock your refrigerator and pantry, gather up the trash and organize the garage, set the table and have the house filled with the aroma of a home cooked meal, fluff the pillows on the couch and have a bottled water sitting on the side table for both of you, have a few lamps lit and a candle burning and leave a note that reads, "Because I love you!"


My damp eyes turned to waterworks. Guilt washed over me as I realized the difference between me and the pastors’ wives I admire: Serving isn’t a responsibility to them. It’s not a task to be completed, a line to check off their to-do list. It’s a pleasure.

II Corinthians 9:6-15 says, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”

It isn’t my schedule that needs to change. It’s my heart. I am worthless on my own, but God can do all things through me. It’s not about people seeing what I am doing for others, or where I am serving or giving of my time – it’s about others giving recognition to the God I am serving.

My mom challenged me today to truly be Christ to those I am around – to serve as Jesus did. My prayer is that God will work through me, and no matter how big or small I am able to serve, rather than seeing a 24 year-old still seeking to grow in her faith, that a lost world will hear our Mighty God whisper, “Because I love you.”

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