Second Time Around

In retrospect, I do not remember exactly when we made the choice. But, early on in ministry, the partnership mindset became the heart of our marriage and ministry. What that translated into was my participation in both worship hours on a given Sunday morning. For some pastors’ wives, that choice seems too close to a martyr mindset or at the very least not manageable for logistical reasons. What is interesting is that this ‘double duty’ has not been a burden for me, but rather a great blessing for over 20 years.
 
Undoubtedly, there are many Sundays where I need – yes, need – to participate in two worship hours to truly absorb what God has for me. There are even days when God knows that I will not have time for personal reflection during the worship service as the demands of ministry may distract me or call for my attention. On these days, the Holy Spirit actually prompts my heart and mind while in the shower preparing to go to church. With my spiritual preparation underway, I now have the freedom to invest in others more freely during times of prayer at the altar or when other ministry opportunities present themselves. Apparently, experiencing the worship service a second time around is what I need - and my presence blesses my husband as well!
 
As life would have it, the ‘shower revelation’ doesn’t always happen, and there are some Sundays when a heavy cloud of burden weighs me down. Psalm 55:22 gives great counsel when life seems overwhelming when it challenges us toCast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Wow! What a great prescription for health – if we give our burdens to God, He will keep us from being rattled. That is easier said than done!

I remember one particular Sunday morning when I fought back tears throughout the time of congregational worship. Despite my valiant attempt for composure, a few tears did escape. Taking a deep breath, while discretely wiping the tears from my cheeks, I got myself together and sent a cry heavenward for grace. God graciously replaced my heartache and fears with the assurance that He was truly in control. The first worship hour ended, and Sunday School flew by as usual. As I entered the second worship hour, the turmoil began to boil within me. The unwelcomed feelings of ‘panic’ started rising up again. This time, however, I quickly recognized the spiritual attack plaguing me and gave the unhealthy dread and fear back to God before it had a chance to escalate. I sensed God’s sustaining hand of peace on my life as I joined in the time of worship.
 
Still feeling a bit vulnerable, I was soon surprised to feel a tap on my right shoulder. Turning to the aisle to see what was needed, I found no one there. Instinctively, I looked to the left and saw a sweet gentleman - who is a bit of a tease - sitting innocently behind me. At that moment, I knew without a doubt that God had “tapped” me on the shoulder. I grinned with delight! I have no doubt that this dear friend was acting on an impulse to tease me, but what he didn’t know was that God was using him to bring joy, laughter and peace into my life. God used that unexpected shoulder tap as a tangible reminder in my life. He saw me, He heard my cries and this Almighty God of Creation was right beside of me - taking care of the enemy’s attacks. That moment of confirmation sealed my confidence and gave me the courage I needed to face the week before me.
 
My husband had no clue what God was doing in my life that morning – in either worship hour - but He did know that I was there supporting him and working beside of him. That partnership in ministry is a blessing to each of us even when it takes me a second time to take it all in and rest in God’s glory. May you sense God's presence the first time around and ‘cast your cares’ on Him each day so that you can find great peace and joy serving together.

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