It's Sabbath. What a marvelous opportunity for a minister's wife to scatter His love. Let's see how she does it.
She awakes at 6:00 a.m. and drags herself out of bed. She had stayed up until midnight finishing her Sabbath School program for the children's department.
She hurries to the kitchen. It's a bring-and-share lunch today, and she needs to put the finishing touches to her contributions. She also needs to thumb through several story books and find a children's story for the divine service. She knows she should have done it before, but this week has been so busy.
It's now 8:00 a.m. The family needs to leave in a half hour, as their church is quite a distance from their home.
She is stressed. The soup she took out of the freezer last night didn't defrost properly, so she struggled with blending pieces of ice. On the kitchen counter she stacks the six dishes she has made and wonders why she does most of the "bringing-andsharing."
She grabs a bowl of cereal and a hot drink to take to her bedroom. She'll gobble them down while getting dressed and fixing her children's hair.
lt's now 8:20 a.m. Her breakfast is sitting on the dressing table. Her hair is a total mess, and the children are arguing.
She is nearly ready, only her stockings to put on. Just then her husband walks in. He tells her of the article he has read in dealing with the importance of "in-depth" conversations in the pastoral marriage. Since he is ready and has seven minutes to spare, he wonders if there is anything she would like to share?
She glares at him—all week long she had been trying to have an "in-depth" conversation with her husband. But every time she tried, he was either immersed in a thick theological book or on the phone or out! In annoyance she tugs extra hard at one of her stockings and puts runs in them! They were the only ones that match her dress.
In a frenzy of panic she rips off her clothes and rummages through her wardrobe. Her other two Sabbath outfits are at the cleaners. She has no choice but to wear what she wore last week and hope no one will notice. She couldn't find the shoes to match her outfit. The children had used them several days earlier to play hide-and-seek and had forgotten where they hid them!
At 8:45 a.m. they are finally in the car. Her husband, who hates to be late for church, is no longer in the mood for an "in-depth" conversation; the children are arguing yet again. Her breakfast is still sitting on the dressing table.
It's 11:15, Sabbath School is over, and she is exhausted! Twenty-five children to battle with on her own, and they won the battle! Just as she is about to tell the children to go to divine service, a concerned mother takes her aside. She is worried that the pastor's wife is teaching the children "new theology" when she asks them to pretend that they are part of the Bible story. While the pastor's wife affirms her belief in the "old theology," the kids run riot.
Divine service becomes yet another fight. She and her four children sit in the front row. All eyes watch as her eldest daughter suddenly develops a runny nose, and, of course, has no tissues. The middle, children erupt into a fit of giggles, and the youngest starts to cry because he has left his favorite Sabbath book at home. She has a headache and thinks of her breakfast sitting on the dressing table.
During the service the organist suddenly declares she cannot play the second hymn. Not to be daunted, her husband volunteers her expertise on the organ. Struggling with the four sharps and three different time signatures, she thinks of the "in-depth" conversation she will have with her husband at the first possible opportunity.
Lunch is a whirlwind of noise and confusion. Her youngest declares in the loudest voice he can muster that the eider's wife's food is "disgusting" (his favorite phrase at the moment!); her eldest is still blowing her nose; and the middle children have now progressed to a fighting match. Ten church members come to have "in-depth" conversations with her, and all she wants to do is eat.
It is now 3:30 p.m., time for AYS. Her children are restless, and her head still hurts. She decides to take refuge in the vestry before going to the program. However, the other parents think she is holding a separate program for the younger children. Before she can protest, 12 youngsters are left with her.
It is now time to go home. She and the children pile into the car for the long journey home. However, they all scramble out again when her husband appears with two church members who need a lift home. Of course, they live in opposite directions. Squeezed into the back seat with two children balancing on her knees (one with an elbow stuck in her ear and the other tugging on her neck), she wonders if this is what "scattering His Jove" is all about?
Finally at 11:00p.m. she crawls into bed. Just as she is about to greet the "land of oblivion" her husband stomps into the bedroom and thumps on the light. He has just had an "in-depth" conversation with the elder who questions his calling to the ministry! Knowing that the peace of sleep has been swiped out of her grasp, she pulls herself up into a sitting position and acts as counselor to an agitated husband! Some time later her head touches the pillow once again. Closing her eyes, she spies her breakfast still sitting on the dressing table!
Is that what "scattering His love" represents to you—endless giving? If so, you are on the road to spiritual weariness, resentment, and bitterness.
Jesus shows the way
Jesus spent every day of His life scattering His Father's love. He too struggled with endless giving, and yet He handled it a lot better than we do. Jesus put three principles into action from which we too can benefit.
1. Find rest in God's love.
Matthew 14 describes a typical day in the life of Jesus. Read it and jot down the stresses and strains He contended with. Note in particular verse 23, where it says Jesus sent everyone away and spent time alone with God. That was Jesus' first place of rest—quiet time with His Father. "No other life was ever so crowded with labor and responsibility as was that of Jesus; yet how often He was found in prayer! How constant was His communion with God."'
Repeatedly the Bible tells us that Jesus retired to quiet, solitary places. There He found rest in sharing the burdens that emotionally drained Him, and there He let God minister to Him by listening to His voice.
Do we? For many of us our "quiet" times are far from silent. Amid the hustle and bustle of our noisy homes we skim over verses in our Bible, pray at the speed of an electric typewriter, and dash off before the Lord has a chance to say anything to us!
Rather, spend some quality time with God. Find a little "nook" in your home where you will be undisturbed. Open yourself to the voice of God. "Be still" and absorb the presence, the peace, the tranquillity, and the strength of God.
If you cannot do that in your home, seek out other places where you will be able to listen to God's voice. One of our church members always leaves for work earlier than she needs to. On the way she parks her car in a parking lot and sits with God in quietness. Listening to God as Jesus did will revitalize your life and soothe your weariness and tiredness.
2. Find rest with each other.
Finding rest or refreshment in our relationships with each other will also help us to scatter His love more effectively.
We all know how Jesus loved to go to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. They represented a group of people with whom He could shake off His sandals, curl up in an easy chair, and be Himself. As ministers' wives we too need a place where we do not fulfill any role or demands, but where we can be ourselves. We need to nurture a group of friends with whom we can laugh, share positive and negative experiences, be enriched, and challenged spiritually.
In his book Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, Gordon Macdonald 2 tells us that a spiritual support group is vital to keep afresh our desire to share Christ.
In the district where my husband and I minister now, the pastoral families come together on a regular basis, and it is great! Not only do we (including our children), enjoy the socializing, but we uplift one another in prayer. This is a great source of strength. If, perhaps there is no one in your area who you can relate to in this way, then ask God to provide for your need. He truly will!
3. Find rest within yourself Jesus also showed us how to "scatter His love" by taking time out for Himself.
In Matthew 14 we see Jesus dismissing the crowds. When I first read this I was shocked. Here Jesus had a group of people to whom He could have continued to minister and perhaps made more converts, but He sent them home! This teaches me that at times we need to learn to say No! Jesus did not urge upon us the necessity of ceaseless toil. "It is not wise to be always under the strain of work and excitement, even in ministering to men's spiritual needs; for in this way personal piety is neglected, and the powers of mind and soul and body are overtaxed."'
We cannot control many things in life, but we can control what we say yes and no to. It is probably the hardest thing for us as pastoral wives to do because we feel we "ought" to do so much. But it is essential to prevent spiritual weariness.
Because we as women tend to assume the role of nurturing, to give of ourselves to others, we need to learn how to be kind to ourselves. We should have a time each day when we can do something that we want—read, sew, exercise, learn a new craft, or meet a friend. I find that when I take time to do something I want for myself, I am better able to meet the needs of others.
Putting it into practice
It's Sabbath. What a marvelous opportunity for a typical minister's wife to scatter His love. Let's see how she does it using the principles we have talked about.
She awakes at 6:00 a.m. feeling refreshed because she went to bed at a reasonable hour. She goes to her "special place" and spends time with God. In the quietness of the early hours she listens for God to speak with hex. She shares with Him all her responsibilities as a pastor's wife. It has been a hectic week, but the Lord helped her find the materials she needed to make her Sabbath school class interesting. Her children helped with the preparations for the bring-andshare lunch. Yesterday they had fun together as one mixed a salad dip and the other chopped vegetables. During the week she had asked someone else to do the children's story.
By 7:45 a.m. her hair is washed and dried and she has eaten her breakfast. By 8:30 a.m. they are in the car and drive to church without the usual stress and strain.
Church is not such a drain on her emotionally and physically. She is learning to express her needs and kindly asks the church members to help with her responsibilities, Some do not like it, but in her quiet times with God she listens to the love and acceptance that He has for her and is less concerned about others' opinion of her.
She and her husband no longer try to squeeze in "in-depth" conversations. Knowing the importance of their relationship to each other and their children, one evening a week is set aside for them.
In church they sit in the front seat, but as she does not feel "drained," she can deal with the usual problems without too much hassle! At lunch she happily listens to the church members' problems. Regular "time-out" in the week means that she is better able to be responsive to the needs of others.
In the afternoon she takes her children for a walk. She finds it restful, and her youngsters enjoy it. Yes, there are some who criticize her for not being at the afternoon programs, but she is now confident enough to say no. Her spiritual group has been praying that she will be strong enough to do what is best for her family.
She and the children have a picnic supper in the park. When it's time to go home, her husband has only one church member in the car. After the last disaster they have discussed how impractical it is to chauffeur two extra people.
On reaching home, they alI eat together. After the pressure of a busy Sabbath, they try to have some fun together. She also phones a member of her si iritual support group. She has decided to phone a member once a month. As they share the day's events, laugh, and promise to pray for each other, she feels refreshed and rested.
She puts the children to bed. As usual, there is the late-night call from the elder, and she provides the "listening ear" for her husband. But she doesn't resent it as much as she used to. She has found "rest" in her friendship with God, she has found "rest" with her special friends, and she has found "rest" within herself. As she switches off the light to go to sleep she notices there is no breakfast sitting on the dressing table!