I'd rather not write this post. It would be easier to blissfully ignore the experiences of the past week, at least in this little corner of the web. I would rather write about tomatoes than the struggles of the soul.
Some of you have walked through the last week with us. Some of you have faced similar experiences. Some will read this post and say "You did what?" For you I'll try to give some insight into Mennonite practice.
Our church, like many Mennonite churches, does not have a paid career pastor. We have a leadership team consisting of bishops, ministers, and deacons that serve together in the church. As leaders grow older and there is a need for more help, new leaders are found within the congregation.
When the ministry of our church asked several months ago that the congregation ordain a new minister, there was a certain amount of anxiety. Knowing that a man from our congregation would be called, also meant it could be my husband. Much prayer was offered as our church sought the Lord's will in choosing the right man to carry a leadership role.
Last week, our church gathered to take nominations for a new minister. Each man in the congregation voted for the man the Lord had laid on his heart to be the new minister. Tension in the room was high as the ministry announced the names of the three men who received enough votes to be considered nominated for minister. My husband was one of the three.
During the next several days, each man and his wife was interviewed by the ministry to examine their qualification as a minister. It was a time of bonding, not only as a husband and wife, but also with the other two couples as we shared the stress of soul searching and surrender.
Never have days crawled by so slowly. I wanted to be willing to serve, if the Lord was calling. I felt so young and unworthy. I feared the change and the impact on our family. I longed for God's call to go to one of the other men and not my husband.
Since all three men were willing and qualified to serve, to discern God's will, the church used a "lot" as in Acts 1. On Sunday evening, three identical Bibles were placed in front of the church. In one Bible the lot, a slip of paper with Provers 16:33, was placed inside. The Bibles were thoroughly shuffled so that no one knew in which Bible the lot was placed. We earnestly prayed that God's will would be revealed by the man who received the lot.
I'm not sure how many times in that week I prayed that I would accept whoever the Lord called to the ministry. I thought I had fully surrendered. But I'm not sure that anything can prepare you to watch the lot be found in your husband's Bible. Or to be asked to join your husband in the front of the church to be given the charge as minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I never desired to be a minister's wife. My first reaction is flail on the floor like a bratty two year old and scream "Not me!"
(Being honest here. Maybe I should have stuck to writing about tomatoes?)
But I also know that this is no surprise to God. He knew before I was born that I'd come to this place of decision and commitment. Is it possible that all the experiences of my life for the past 35 years have been preparing for this day? Can I see the past expressions of His faithfulness as a preview of His faithfulness in the future?
The responsibility looks big, even overwhelming. But our God looks even bigger. The last couple months have been stressful, soul searching, but most of all faith strengthening as we realize the power and love of a God who wants us to call Him Father.
I'm not sure why I'm sharing this. Maybe because many of you have become friends through your emails. Maybe to ask you to pray for Ed and I as we enter this work. Maybe because, though your circumstances may differ, you too may be struggling to say "Yes, Lord, Your will be done." Maybe to encourage you to find the peace that only comes through surrendering to God.
Psalm 29:11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.