Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Week Twenty-Five - Disappointment

     Ever have a plan that just doesn’t work out?   I sometimes do. For example, this past weekend Tom and I planned to meet my siblings on the square in our hometown for what promised to be an evening of classic cars, country music, and loads of smoked meats.  When we arrived, the music was playing, the cars were lined up for examination, but there was little to no meat to be found.  Needless to say, we were not impressed.  After wandering around hoping things would start to look up, we lost hope and headed to Rib Crib for that smoky, barbeque taste.
     I faced a different sort of disappointment in our early missionary career that sent me on a three-year depression.  I am calling it a disappointment, but I think the word disillusionment might be a better choice of words.
     I went to the mission field with the romantic idea of giving the gospel to souls eager to hear and receive.  After years of watching slides from mission fields around the world containing pictures of large crowds singing and listening to the word and hearing stories of numbers of people coming to Christ at a single service, I guess I thought that if we did it right, we would have the same outcome.  Though I knew my mission field was considered difficult, I was resolved to win the world for Christ.
     After a few years, the truth of the hardness of our field began to sink in.  There were no large crowds, only the faithful few.  People were not walking the aisle to find Christ; they were coming privately, and the fruit was slow to ripen.  They didn’t need us, and they weren’t backward in letting us know.  Making friends had become the only way to witness and that was an arduous job requiring hours of time and effort.
    I remember the day when I could take no more.  In no uncertain way I let my husband know I was disappointed and disillusioned with the mission field and especially in the way he was doing ministry.  I saw it as his fault the crowds weren’t coming and the fruit was scarce, and I told him so.
   Being the wise and patient man that he is, he let me rant until I collapsed in tears.  And that was the beginning of God’s healing in my heart.
   I remember that day vividly, and the feelings of frustration.  I also remember God turning the tables and within the next five years we saw growth and more doors of ministry.  What did I learn through my disappointment and depression? 

1. God gives the increase.  It isn’t about what we do for the Lord, as much as it is about our leaning upon and trusting Him alone to bless His word in His time and in His way.

2. The ministry belongs to Him alone.  I, and my husband, are simply tools in His hand.  It is a privilege to serve and watch God at work.  We are but unprofitable servants doing what God has asked us to do.

3. I will not be called upon to give an answer for my husband’s service. (Which was not inadequate, by the way.)  I needed to understand that my husband has a relationship and a leading from the Lord that is personal.  It is not my job to be the Holy Spirit, but to be a loyal and supportive wife.

4. I will be called upon to give account of my own service, and that includes my attitude toward my husband.  I think I will have enough of my own things to answer for without trying to judge, motivate, and direct him as well! 
     Those great life/ministry lessons strengthened our marriage and made us a better ministry couple.
     Our field remains one for the long haul.  There are still no crowds pressing to hear the gospel, but the gospel is going forward and God is faithful in honoring His word!
     If you are facing a disappointment or a disillusionment in life or in ministry, let me encourage you to take it to the Lord, honestly bear your hurting soul, and let Him teach you lessons that will encourage your heart. 
     You won’t be disappointed!

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