It was late in the evening. Visiting hours at the hospital had long since finished. Our newborn daughter, whom I had traumatically delivered a few days earlier, was safe and snug in the care of the nursery staff. I walked, or waddled really, arm in arm with my husband to the after-hours exit door.
After a lingering kiss goodnight, I stood leaning against the door frame and watched as he disappeared into the night. I was overwhelmed with feelings of aloneness as tears trickled down my face.
I heard a cry rise from within, ‘God, I need my husband to be with me right now, but he can’t be. He can’t be here to hold me close; love me and tell me I’m going to be okay. He doesn’t understand my physical pain, or the jumble of my turmoiled emotions.’
Then, so crystal clear in the night’s stillness, I heard these words from my God, ‘I’m here, I will always be here.’ I don’t know whether they came audibly or from inside my mind somehow, but they were so real and so clear. The aloneness I had felt just moments before dissipated, and was replaced by a feeling of deep inner peace. It was as if I had been wrapped in a blanket of security.
As I paused in the doorway that night, God began to talk to me. He told me, ‘There are going to be times in your future when your husband, for any number of reasons, is not going to be able to be there with you, or for you. But remember, I always will be.’
I shut the door and waddled back down the long corridor pondering God’s words to me, ‘I will never leave you, I will always be with you.’
Over the span of all my years in ministry, I have found myself on multiple occasions, in a variety of different situations, when my husband, as deeply as he loves and cares for me, has not understood and has not been able to be there for me. But God always has been and always is.
To sustain effective ministry over many years it is essential for us to have God cemented in as our number one, in the place of priority in our lives. When God is first, though we live in a world of many, many, many things our natural, internal bias will always focus us back to the one thing. The one thing being God.
David says in Ps 27:4, ’One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty and delightfulness of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.’
Now I know there are times when church literally feels like we dwell there, but I think I can safely say David meant he wanted to continually be in a place where he was able to behold the beauty and delightfulness of the Lord. I would also add, the wonder, the awe, the magnitude, the outstandingness, and the sheer magnificence of the Lord.
David was king, so there were many, many, many things happening in his life, just as there is in yours and mine, but his one thing was his God.
When God is our one thing, when God holds first place of priority in our life, when everything is right between us and God, there is a contented peace that settles in our heart. We are less grumpy, tend to handle stress easier, pray our best prayers, are more focused and confident in what we are endeavoring to accomplish.
The way in which we keep God first can, and does, weave in and out of our various life situations and seasons. How do you keep God as your number one, or your first thing? What is one thing you do or one habit you have established to keep your relationship with God fresh and alive?
A group of pastors’ wives relaxed over coffee and discussed this exact topic. They shared together their God priority in both life situations and seasons.
No children or empty nest:
Loretta said, ‘I feel the closeness of God when I am reading or meditating in the Scriptures. I have become a student of the word and time just disappears when I am in the word.’
Rain said, ‘I am a young mum with three little children. I don’t have a whole lot of time for myself, let alone having time to spend with God or read my Bible. I am on call 24/7, sleep deprived, and I’m frustrated knowing so many things in a day just don’t get done. Then add to this, church.’
Jane said, ‘Rain, I encourage you to adjust your prayer life to simple, on the spot, right at this moment, prayers or chatting with God throughout the day. It’s perfectly okay if your Bible reading is from your children’s Bible as you read to your kids. I am convinced that God totally understands a mother’s world or He wouldn’t have said, ‘I will gently lead those who are with young.’ (Ish 40:11) He doesn’t push mums or drive them, but gently leads them.
How you are wired – a morning, arvo or night woman:
Anna said, ‘A friend told me recently how she had established the habit of spending an hour with God four evenings a week. I thought, ‘That’s good for you, but I’m definitely not a night person’. You know, I’m glad God doesn’t mind whether we talk to Him in the morning, or at night, during our lunch break, in the shower, while hanging out the washing, or driving in the car; just as long as we talk to and engage with Him.
Direct with God:
Michelle said, ‘So let me clarify. You girls are saying that God should come first before my husband. My husband hears from God and then tells me what He said.
Jane said, ‘I’m sure you won’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says that on her wedding day, a woman should abdicate her relationship with God. That all communication and guidance to her from God will now come through, or via, her husband. You have dwelling within you the exact same Holy Spirit who is dwelling in your husband. Paul says, God shows no partiality in relation to a person’s nationality, life status or gender. (Gal 3:28) We stand at the foot of the cross, as it were, on equal ground alongside our husband, not behind or beneath or in front of him.’
Every day awareness:
Alison said, ‘I couldn’t survive in ministry, or in life really, without God being first. He’s my go-to person and the solid Rock upon which I stand. Especially when my husband has so much going on in his own world that I sometimes feel shut out. I’ve found it works better for me to be strong in my own walk with God.’
On your own:
Josie said, ‘I had the revelation a few months back, that God needed to be first in my life. My husband has become more involved in overseas missions which requires him to travel regularly. It was while he was away, reality hit me that I had always gone to my husband first, before I went to God. Now I am so enjoying the closeness and bond which is developing between God and I as I am switching God into first place and my husband into second.’
Michelle looked at the clock, it was time to go.
God telling me all those years ago that He would always be with me and never leave me, sent a very clear message of the reality of the promise for all of us of Heb 13:5 which says, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will always be with you.’
As you place God first, you become more aware of Him being close to you. God is available every moment of your day and night, His eye is upon you and His ear is attuned to your voice. He takes the time to think about you and is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond anything which you can think or ask of Him.
(Ps 34:15; Jer 29:11; Eph 3:20)
(Excerpt taken from my book Conversations with a Pastor’s Wife. Available from Amazon)