Wednesday, September 17, 2008

UNFINISHED


....being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NIV

No one is more surprised than me that the Lord has called me to be a pastor's wife. It was number 2 on my "Top Ten Things I'm Definitely Not Called To Do" list, right after 'President of the United States', and before 'Sherpa'. All the pastor's wives I've ever known seem to possess character traits I don't see in myself. I imagine their days begin with several hours of fervent prayer and Bible study, followed by visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters. Then after sorting clothes for the needy and preparing meals for the homeless, they go to spin class, clean the house, help their perfect children with their algebra, prepare a gourmet meal, and end the day interceding for the nations. OK, so that's not a realistic picture of the life of a pastor's wife. But the actual calling seemed almost that far-fetched!

My husband, Gene, began to sense God's call to the ministry shortly after we both received Christ.  I was so relieved when it turned out we were called to music ministry rather than the pastorate.  The more we served, the more work we were given to do. Always in supportive roles, we led worship, we sang at retreats and schools and churches. We had opportunities to serve in men's, women's and children's ministry- from preschool to high school. We were involved with the homeless, the addicted, the battered, the broken. From VBS to Easter productions to choirs to youth bands. And then it happened: Gene was given an opportunity to speak. Uh-oh. Clearly, God had gifted him to share the Word. I was relieved again to discover he was called to preach to teenagers. Ohhhh, YOUTH ministry...good, good. Whew! That was a close one!

Then one night, when he was traveling for business, my husband sensed God calling him to pastor. And he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord did NOT want him to say a word about it to me. Smart move. So we continued to serve in youth and music, totally in our comfort zone (my favorite zone). Then about five years ago, Gene knew it was time to tell me about the call. I laughed out loud. I really did! (I've read about women in the Bible who laughed at something God said. It wasn't a good idea then, either.) I argued until I was out of breath that both Gene and the Lord were barking up the wrong tree. "I'm completely unfit!", I bellowed (see, I told you I wasn't cut out for this). "I don't have the desire, the patience, or the temperament to do that job!", I continued. Despite my insistence that there was no way I would ever be a pastor's wife, my patient husband was unmoved. "You don't have to be like any other pastor's wife", he said. "Be the pastor's wife I need".  Now why'd he have to go and say that?

I finally agreed to at least mention it in prayer, and see if that's really what the Lord had in mind. So I timidly asked Him to show me the right path. Sure enough. Pastor's wife. That was the plan. Scriptures like "you are not your own, you are bought with a price" began to fill my thoughts. I told my husband I had confirmed the plan with the Almighty. "But I am NOT happy", I told him. As the time of launching our church approached, I remembered some things I had learned along the way. God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He uses the foolish things to confound the wise. And the verse that finally won my heart....."He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6)....That means that even though He's not finished with me, even though I am spectacularly imperfect, He can use my life for His glory!

Every day at our church, God makes much of what little I offer Him: my love for His word, my passion to see the lost know Christ, my desire to do His will. The people of Crossroads are deep in my heart, always on my mind, and the subject of my daily prayers. What a privilege it is to share the journey with so many precious people and to watch as God transforms their lives. And...now here's the crazy part...I can't imagine doing anything else!

Kudos to Pastor Gene for steadfastly resisting the urge to say "I told you so"....

Prayer for today: Father, I'm thankful that I am a work in progress, and You are not finished with me yet. I long to do Your will, and to be all that You have called me to be. Change me, shape me, and use me to touch the lives of Your people. In Christ's Name I pray, Amen.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me just say that I for one am overwhelmingly (not sure about that spelling), thrilled that you opened your heart and received the calling. I love you and Pastor Gene...you both have had an impact on our lives more than you could know. Be encouraged, you're definately where the Lord has called you to be.
-HM

Leslie Oden said...

Thanks so much, HM! I can't imagine doing anything else. =) LO

Matt Mendenhall said...

Bravo Leslie, Bravo. This really touched me. My heart lately has been spinning around how our own individual santification in the Lord is a life long process. Sometimes I just want it now! Sometimes I just want to know more of His plan. Reading this reminded me that as long as I keep focused on Him, He will guide my path. God Bless you.
MM

Anonymous said...

Geez Leslie, were we separated at birth or something??? I see myself ALL THROUGHOUT this posting. You remember, the bus seat thing??? Knowing what you had been thinking makes me think there might be hope for me yet....Love you and love your blog!
Kelly