Eschatology. Ecclesiology. Missiology. Soteriology. All the ‘ologies,’ but not all the time.
My husband and I moved to Kansas City a few short days after I graduated college so he could begin his Master of Divinity degree. Since I am from a small, rural town in the southern part of Arkansas, I was excited to get to this city. What would it be like? What would we be able to explore? How close would we live to a TJMaxx? Would we be able to find a healthy local church? Would we have friends—the friends that would stand by us in the lifelong journey of ministry? I didn’t know the answers to those questions, but one thing I did know—I would be doing all of it with my husband.
August arrived, and he was off to class. I could hardly wait to hear how his first day went. What’d you think of the professors? Did you meet any new friends? What did the Lord teach you? These questions swarmed out of my mouth as soon as he got home. And, just as I thought, he loved it. He mentioned names of guys he had met in class and how he wanted to have them and their wives over for dinner. He told me of book after book on his reading list that he couldn’t wait to read. He explained the various papers that he planned to write and how excited he was about the research. Joy flooded my soul. This was the start of his season of classroom preparation for the pastorate.
As the months went by, I began to sense an unfamiliar feeling in my heart when he would talk about school. Misdiagnosing it as a bad mood that was probably caused by lack of sleep or the moving blues, I tried not to pay it much attention. I was doing myself, and my husband, a favor—or so I thought. This small seed of “bad mood” rooted itself into my heart and sprouted up a black flower of bitterness. What? Bitter? About my husband pursuing a theological education so he can shepherd God’s sheep? No. I was bitter because theological education was stealing time I thought was due me. The Lord was gracious in showing me, time and again, that the truths I believe about mankind and about my marriage spur on the necessary change of heart that I needed in order to exhibit grace towards my husband during a season when our time together is limited.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:
His Time Is Not His Own
And it’s not mine, either. We often think the ring our husbands gave to us was not only a sign of committing his love to us, but also his time. While he did commit to loving me and sharing his time with me, he did not entrust his time to me—in fact, he cannot. From Genesis 2 we know that God himself is the giver of the very breath we breathe. He owns each second that we are alive. According to the Psalmist David, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). My husband’s time (and mine) has, and always will, belong to the Lord. If, like me, your husband is also in ministry or in seminary, as he spends time reading and writing, remind yourself of the beautiful work God is doing in him (and in you) and of the kindness God has shown your family in letting your husband continue education. After all, shepherding the flock is no easy task— a good shepherd must learn to steward his time, giftings, and life for the sake of the Gospel going forth.
A Call to Ministry Is a Call To Sacrifice
Those in ministry—whether a layperson sitting under the faithful word preached from week to week, a pastor preparing the preached Word, or a seminarian learning more about the Word—understand there is always some level of sacrifice to faithfully serve the church. Just as Jesus denied himself and took up His cross for The Church, He says to those who desire to follow Him, “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The denial of self and the taking up of the cross are essential in our understanding of rightly sacrificing for the sake of the Gospel. Paul is a prime example for us that gospel ministry often brings along with it sacrifice and suffering. He states in 2 Timothy 1:11-15 that he was “appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,” on account of the gospel, “which is why I suffer as I do.” Gospel ministry calls us to sacrifice. Pray for the Lord to train your heart to joyfully endure the sacrifices of the Christian life, knowing He is producing something in you far more precious than gold.
He Loves You through More than Just Time
One of my love languages is quality time, so I deeply cherish the weekly date night I get with my husband. Yet, I find myself being discontent when he doesn’t have multiple hours to give me each day; however, what I don’t see, is the time he spends interceding for me daily. As he watches me battle through sin and sadness, he is praying for God to keep me. To protect me. To make me more like Him. Though I feel most loved when he sets aside time for me, I should feel deeply loved when he is praying for me and when he spends multiple hours studying unto God’s glory. Great joy arises in our hearts when he helps me learn and understand truths about the Lord and when he leads our family according to the Scriptures.
Please understand, I am not justifying the actions of the husband who neglects his wife so that he may rise to greater heights in the theological world—he is out of step with the truth and needs to seek repentance and forgiveness. I am, however, pleading with you, wives, to ask God to rid the seed of bitterness in your heart and replace it with a seed of delight. I pray that we would delight in our God first and foremost, as it is out of that delight that we find joy in our husband’s sacrifice of time with us that he might pursue a theological education, a life in ministry, and kingdom expansion.
Editor's note: this originally published at ThinkingAndTheology.com