No, Harriet didn't marry a pastor. Today is our 48th anniversary and we'll reflect on our early years and the many ways she helped me discover my purpose in this here life. Yes, she married a young banker intent on a top floor office and keys to the executive wash-room. Five years later I was given the keys to the local 300 bed county general hospital as Assistant Administrator/Director of Finance. In that service oriented environment this calling from God became real, and there was Harriet, ready to sell our new dream house and move Elizabeth (age 4) and Brian (age 2) and I to the seminary campus in pursuit of that Master of Divinity graduate degree. It was a unique and blessed journey, learning the lessons of life with this wonderful partner.
Along the way I had to make some decisions about ministry. What exactly had God prepared me to do with the gifts and strengths he had provided? Harriet and I discussed it often, praying intensely for us to know the direction of our ministry. One day, in one of those lower moments I wandered into Binkley Chapel on the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary campus. The chapel was empty and I had a pity-party, whining a prayer for some clarity and direction as I wrestled with the 84 hour M. Div. curriculum.
After a few minutes Dr. Ben Johnson, organ professor in the music school, came in, settled at the pipe organ and began to play a glorious rendition of the hymn Be Thou My Vision. Just minutes later I was searching one of the pew Bibles and was stopped at Ephesians 3: 8-9 (NIV)---
Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to
preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,9 and to make plain to everyone
the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who
created all things.
There it was, what I now call my ministry verses. Yes, this text hangs on the wall beside the Life Verses and Passion Verse. My calling is to "make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery...". I'm not all that academic or scholarly, or eloquent for that matter. Making things plain is what I do. There's also a beautiful cross-stitch of this hymn on my wall too, a precious gift from dear friend Jean Boos.
Another yes! God has a purpose for your life too. The Apostle Paul wrote---"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8: 28, ESV). It affirms what the Prophet Jeremiah had written centuries earlier---"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).
Ask him to show you his purpose! And, get ready to obey. And, Happy 48th anniversary Harriet.