By Sally Illman, Connections Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL
What an adventure this life can be! And I think that being a church planter’s wife means that regarding the spirit of adventure, we say, “Bring it on!”, even if in reality, we have no idea what that means. In the beginning, we tell God that we understand that this is a calling - something that He has chosen us for by virtue of being the wife of a man who feels called to be a church planter. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We also know, by that same understanding, that our children are called to be “PKs” (preacher’s kids) with all the responsibilities and privileges that come with that calling.
But, there are a three other things that I have found need to be recognized. One is that we need to expect the unexpected. When the demographics of the people we expect to flock to our new church don’t work out the way we carefully planned (despite the fact that our husbands are the most gifted preachers and pastors the world has ever seen), when the church still doesn’t grow, and when we struggle financially even though we had it all figured out, we still need to remember Who is in charge. God says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
When we are able to remember that God does have a plan for us, and it may not be the same as what we planned, we can then recognize the second thing. We need to be flexible. Flexibility is definitely a heart issue because it involves trusting God for His ways, not ours. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6); "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).
In order to maintain flexibility, the third part comes. We need to stay in the Word. But also, there needs to be times for reflection. Amidst the busyness of life, there has to be time to get away and ponder God. For me it’s my Bible, a pen, and my journal - no phone with games and Facebook to distract, no book or Kindle to divert my attention, just God and me. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD (Psalm 27:1). While I’m pondering and pouring my heart out before the Lord – “God, I can’t do this anymore! It’s too hard, and You’re too far away! Do You have any idea what this is like?! This is NOT my idea of how I would have written my life’s script!” - I need to listen to Him as He assures me of His promises. I need to renew my understanding of His call on my life and the calling that He has given me.
It’s a cycle. I am sure of my calling. I understand that it may not be as we planned, so I need to be willing to change my plans to fit with God’s. Therefore, I need to have some time to reflect and get back on the path that God has defined, and to do what I need to remind myself of my calling. Then I can be assured that my attitude is back, so that I can call what might be deemed by some to be an ordeal, truly an ADVENTURE!