The last thing I thought I would ever be – A Pastor`s wife

I am a Pastor’s wife, one thing that I had neither imagined nor had asked for. Yet here I was married to a passionate pastor who loves his people and has a great desire to see a transformation in their lives.

Well, yes I am a Pastor’s wife. It is exactly that one thing that happened to me which I had neither imagined nor had asked for. I had no clue what it means to be one so I was neither fascinated with it nor repelled towards it. But it did happen and here I was married to a passionate pastor who loves his people and has a great desire to see a transformation in their lives.

Having said that, I also want to thank my husband for being extremely gracious towards me and letting this be my personal journey rather than the one he thought was ideal. His love helped me dwell in freedom of, “its ok to do mistakes” and learn from them. He covered my insufficiencies, weaknesses, stubbornness and goof ups with kindness. He worked on them with me (and he still does) instead of setting standards and then leaving me alone to fulfill them.

So this is what little bit I have learnt when I look at my journey of last one year. Hope it blesses you.

1. You are Chosen Out of God’s Purpose rather than your eligibility.
Initially, I considered myself not a suitable candidate for this role. Especially because of not being raised in a christian household,enemy deceived me into believing that I was going to fail and that God made a mistake by assigning me this role. This didn’t change until the Holy Spirit convicted me from the scriptures (1 Samuel 15:17 CEV, Isaiah 55:8-9 and Psalm 138:8 ESV). These verses when put together in front of me by the Lord compelled me to change the way I was dealing with this struggle. We, as pastors`s wives need to know and be assured that our low opinion of self will not convince God to unchoose us and definitely that we cannot figure out that why did he specifically choose us. While I was failing to find good in myself, He was calling me to rest in the truth that purposes are HIS and He is the one who will fulfill them through me. So I relaxed because I knew it did not depend on my awesomeness, but on my surrender. I have been chosen now. Either I could pick up the mantle passionately or run away!! It was my choice but there is nothing I can do that would make me feel qualified.

2. Beware of Human Praise.
Being married to a pastor had kind of put me in the limelight and good books of people without even doing anything. This constant acceptance did make me feel great without feeling any need of self assessment or God’s discipline for my personal life. My suggestion? Please not let this approval get to your head (John 12:43) This role is not our identity and only being a daughter of God is. Pastor`s wives also will be called out for their character and obedience on the last day just like anybody else who is not in ministry (Luke 8:17). I have learnt to be more genuine in front of God with my struggles with people, situations and have learnt to let HIM guide me everyday instead of just putting up a show on Sundays!!

3. My First Ministry is My Household
A pastor’s wife can be a great counsellor, listener, awesome host, fantastic cook, but if she is not intentionally working towards bringing God’s kingdom of love, honour, forgiveness, peace, grace and so on in her family and household, she is not truly serving the Lord.We cannot skip our families and say Well, I am doing great in church so I am sure I am doing great. And I will let a secret out – It is easier to be a good pastor’s wife than a good wife, mother, daughter in law because our interaction is lesser with the church than your own family. You will be really tested and bear real fruits in your character with family and not just the congregation. You are family to God and see if you really know how HE treats you, and check if that is how you treat or intend to treat your family? (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)

4. Reverse the Equation
Accept it or not,congregation is not our fan following group.The state of people should subtly challenge us to pursue a heart like God`s. I realised my calling is to reachout to the unreached, love the least lovable, honour the most rejected, stand up for the ones who have been given up on, encourage the discouraged, pray for the rebels and a lot more. It is comforting to see the 100 who are coming to church, 50 that are growing, 10 that look upto you but do not forget that one person who is hurting and does not have hope, whose discouragement is overcoming him or her. Leave the 99 and go after one (Luke 15:4 NIV) Jesus had 12 of his disciples glued to HIM but HE never stopped reaching out to the ones dejected, sick, hopeless and needy (Matthew 4:23)

5. Look at the bigger picture
This one is funny and my greatest challenge. I have been and still a proud introvert, so not a fan of small talks, and get exhausted of having people in my space. Initially, I felt like this role of a pastor’s wife is forcing me to change who I was. Well, please allow me to tell you that this is not a change but growth. Let me ask you the same question that once the Holy Spirit had asked me – “Is protecting your space more important than seeing transformed lives?” I knew I was being challenged once again. I slowly started putting the walls around my heart and fears down. The process of being vulnerable is not over yet. God has been giving me the courage to lose my life for my brothers and sisters and dying to myself (Luke 9:23 NIV; Luke 17:33 NIV). Now, I do not try to protect my introvert life but instead focus on being available to people like Jesus is available for me. Not been easy, will not be easy but hey I am growing !!! In the middle of all that I have never stopped respecting my inclination towards introversion and I have my days and moments when I enjoy it.

CONCLUSION
I know that this role can be overwhelming and challenging. On micro-observation, I have also realised that a lot of times it is not difficult because of people, but our lack of confidence in what God can do through us once we decide to trust HIM to take us through this. Once we muster up the courage to start believing who we are in Christ as women and keep that going in every new season of our lives, including becoming a minister’s wife, we will only go uphill. Trust me, we have nothing to prove to God and only handle HIS business on this earth faithfully for which HE trains us sharply if we agree to surrender.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Walking With Jesus

The most vital and indispensable path of my faith, on pursuing an intimate walk with Jesus. Faith for me hinges on INTIMACY WITH GOD.

Disclaimer- “This article is not a formula of doing what I want to address here.” I am sharing the journey of my personal pursuit hoping it blesses you.

I am sharing the most vital and indispensable path of my faith, which if I would not have walked upon would determined whether I would have been alive today or just existed like the walking dead. I am talking about pursuing an intimate walk with Jesus. Faith for me hinges on a word which for many is a pretty far and distant thought but is the fulcrum of what I want talk about today- INTIMACY WITH GOD.

I think it is my duty to inform you, that being disciple of Jesus is not easy and definitely not a painless walk at all (when has learning to die to yourself daily been easy?). Yet full of satisfaction and peace knowing even though you are crossing the valley of shadow of death you are headed towards the right direction!!)

Here are some very important lessons i have learnt during my personal walk with God and reflecting on my pursuit to Godly INtimacy and on HIS unfailing faithfulness towards me.
 
1.DESIRE
This is the precursor of every healthy sustainable relationship to attain intimacy. Unless you really desire to walk intimately with Jesus, there is no way you will pursue it. After all, has not our Creator created us to be people of passion and love. Anything we are passionate about we run after it like our life depends on it !! It is incorrectly said a lot of times that we are naturally selfish. I beg to differ, as i think people have this innate and this wonderful capacity to love unconditionally and pursue the object of their affection even though it rejects or refuses to reciprocate. I want to tell you that when you pursue Jesus you can have the surety and confidence of finding HIM because HE wants to be found by you, yes “you” (Jeremiah 29:13).
 
2.TRUTH OR REFERENCE POINT
This aspect of my walk pushes me to look for the truth,

  • The truth about who really God is.
  • What are HIS ways, what are not HIS ways
  • His clear perspective over a specific situation,
  • who you are to HIM and who you are not and so on.

Lord is so extravagantly good and desiring of us that HE accepts us they way we are, adopts us as HIS legal heir without changing anything in us!! In the middle of all of this we cannot negate that though God loves us unconditionally, we do carry mindsets, baggage, lies, hurts, disappointment, fear and a lot of stuff that keep us from fully experiencing the love of our Father. Do not be afraid because God completely understands, is aware of and can clearly see all this even before we remotely come into the awareness of them in us. I learnt that in order to deny lies I need to recognize them, and I cannot recognize the lie until I pursue the truth (John 8:32).

I want to give an example here, I grew up in a home with thin emotional support where words like anxiety, depression, feeling lost, grieving were banned. In my parents’ defense, they were not really depriving me of something but they did not consider this to be an important need because I was just a kid. So, automatically I learnt that I do not need help during emotionally messed up days! I needed to act like I am fine and carry on. Did that stop God from loving me? Nope, but it did make me stop myself from running towards HIM, especially when I was anxious, hurting or grieving. I had to lay down my understanding of relationship and accept HIS. I had to humble myself and pray my way (1 Peter 5:6) into this new way of life (2 Corinthians 5:17) where He is closest to me when I am hurting (Psalm 27:10; Psalm 34:18).
 
3.Nakedness
This is the toughest part to learn in our relationship with the Lord. Not because HE is hard on us but because it is easier to pretend than accept our weaknesses and shortcomings We use big words like merciful, gracious, savior, forever loving for HIM but we do not want to accept that these words are only useful if we accept that we can and do run short.

Grace and mercy are not required if you are perfect. God saved us so that we can run to HIM on our bad days even if we caused those bad days instead of running away from HIM (Hebrews:4:15-16). Do you take off your clothes of pretense and come to HIM naked? Greatest honour you can ever give to Jesus is to let HIM see your worst part, the part that does deserve to be rejected knowing Jesus won’t reject it but will take it and make it new. Do you trust God enough to bring your heart to HIM instead of just praising HIM with your lips (Isaiah 29:13)? And please give me a break if you are thinking that I am asking you to bring your love to HIM when I say heart. No, bring your deceit, bring your anger, bring your hurts, bring your weaknesses, bring your hatred, bring your wickedness, bring your sin, bring your unfaithfulness, bring your fears, bring your mistrust and you will receive grace and love because HE did not come for the perfect but for the sick (Mark 2:17). Stop singing – HE came for the sick and think that you are not sick . Yes, Jesus came for the wicked but am I wicked? No, I am godly. Just shut up!! Seriously, take off your clothes of self-righteousness because JESUS has already covered us with HIS righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Accept it as a lifetime journey and you are not damaged but highly favoured because you have been chosen to be confirmed into the image of Christ.
 
4.Ask and Pursue
What are you asking from God today? I am not against asking God for things and the generous King HE is , HIS hand is always open to fulfilling our natural needs but a lot of people in this world have it all and yet they commit suicide or spend half their lives in depression.This proves, things can never fully satisfy us. In the middle of all your seen needs do not forget that you need to ask Him for a greater understanding of Jesus, and yourself in HIM. Ask God to help you see you the way HE sees you or whatever that makes you more like Jesus the SON in your respective season. I am so thankful to Mr. Luke for recording the most important aspect of the ask, seek and knock deal which I do not know why Mr.Matthew did not.So yeah, Luke right after telling us to try asking and so on, quoted Jesus with this – “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Jesus clarified that the Holy Spirit is the real good gift and that HE wants you to keep that on the top of your asking, seeking and knocking list. For it is the Holy Spirit that will guide us into all truth and the truth will set us free (Luke 11:9-11; John 16:13).
 
5.Courage and Belief
God calls me to be courageous and I was so stuck because I wanted to understand what does it really mean to be courageous (Joshua 1:9) mean we have been taught courageous means brave, ability to stand against danger and fear right? Well, I wanted to be courageous for Jesus but did not know how? Do I build up a church? Start a ministry? Put myself in difficult situations to test my courage? I was so confused. After searching earnestly, I finally found the definition I was looking for, being courageous means – “Being able to walk according to your beliefs despite of fear and difficulties” and belief means – “accepting something as truth without any visible proofs.” So, I found a new mission for my life to fulfill everyday – “walking according to what I have accepted as truth despite of fear etc.” I knew I had to believe I am forgiven and cut off from the past despite of the guilt that attacked me. I knew that I was called to be courageous on the days I felt like I had squandered so many years of my life without Jesus, believing that HE is able to use it for a greater good (why? because HE says so). It is a choice we need to make everyday until it renews our mind and creates in us the new way of living compared to the usual way of living. Some seasons He teaches us to be bold because of who we are and in some HE teaches us to be meek despite of who we are. To be courageous and to work on our beliefs is worth it !! And yes, guess what when we decide to repent (change our mind) God himself supplies us with courage (Isaiah 57:15).

God’s grace has been given to us for so many things but more than anything else it has been given to us to draw closer to HIM and letting HIM renew us into the image of HIS son. USE GRACE WELL !!

This post was first published here on the author’s blog.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

When Your Service Overshadows Jesus

I would seek GOD and fail, rather than serve HIM all my life and live under an illusion that my service is what keeps HIS heart open for me and bless me.

Sometimes, no actually a lot of times I feel like I am making a choice to stay blind even though I am standing in the bright light called Jesus. I shut my eyes and live “my way or the way the experiences in past have taught me.” I deliberately choose my way over Jesus. Result? I am wearied and disillusioned.

No, do not get me wrong, I am not going to start preaching on “obedience and serving God is everything.” Actually I am against serving God. Surprised? Yes, I am not in for “serving God” if it makes me feel worthy in HIS eyes. If that service is not from an outflow of the revelation of HIS greatest love for me, then I am against it. I would rather seek GOD all my life and fail, rather than serve HIM all my life and live under an illusion that my service is what keeps HIS heart open for me and bless me.

Jesus, my friend fortunately is not like you and me, and thankfully He is exactly what HE says HE is. Why then do I say that I choose to stay blind? Because I replace what HE says about HIMSELF with what I feel is believable and what I deserve. Yes, I do let the enemy into my head when I believe that I hold real value in God’s eyes because I do things for HIM. If I were JESUS, I would say – “How offensive!!!!”

I know I sound rude and I am sorry that you had to hear it this way. It might crash your world because it did mine. It sure did!! My intention here is to give you clarity on the triangle of Jesus, relationship and service.

 

Here it is :

1. DO YOU BOTH KNOW EACH OTHER? (Matthew 7:22-23 and Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Jesus said this for me to hear and understand that it is not my ministerial work that will become my reason to dwell with HIM when my time comes, but it will be because HE “knew” me and not because of what I supposedly did for HIM. What I claim as intimacy with Christ is just what He repudiates, and with a certain scornful dignity (casted out demons, prophecy…tell you plainly). The word “knew” in this verse comes from the Hebrew word “yada”, the original meaning of which is the sexual intimacy in a marriage. In marriage, you are called to see through each other in your nakedness, exactly the way you are – You open your real self to your spouse and become vulnerable. Did you trust Jesus enough to let you see in your nakedness? Are you letting HIM see who you really are? Love you in your nothingness? Did you even accept the poverty of your soul at HIS feet? Did you know HIM as enough to take care of you in every season of your life just as a husband does to his wife? Or were you too busy casting out demons or always trying to be perfect holding onto it as a trophy that makes HIM love you. Put this trophy down, take off your garment of works and let JESUS see the burdens of your heart, the cares of your of mind, and everything you are.

 

2. WHAT AM I DOING FOR GOD? (John 6:29)
Heard that a lot, so many times from myself. So, you want to labor for GOD? Good! Jesus has answered – “Believe in the one GOD has sent.”

I have done the mistake of thinking that believing here means – “Jesus is the son of God and He has paid the price of my sin.” Nope, it does not. Listen to this – ‘believe’ comes from the German word ‘Belieben’ which means to – ‘hold dear, value highly.’ Your work for God is assessed on the basis of how much you hold HIM dear and value HIM, and let it direct your actions and not the other way round!!

“It is you remaining in HIM that will make you fruitful and not your fruits that will engraft you in HIM”.

After all, what did you even do for Jesus to accept you? Your relationship started with HIM because you believed (valued highly) in HIS love for you.

 

3. FAITH WITHOUT GOOD WORKS? (Romans 1:17)
Ah, the enemy has used this against me for so long. Faith without good works is dead. I used to keep trying to do work for God and feel better for a few days. It felt like always walking under the supervision of a tough boss. It started taking me away from Jesus. Until one day, when I realised I do not feel loved anymore. What is the difference between Jesus and this world if I feel that I have to constantly work to be in a place of favour?

I digged into the Word and found Romans 1:17. I was called to live (be alive) by faith and not by works. What is the original meaning of faith? The root word is ‘pistuo’, original meaning is ‘fidelity, I rest my heart upon, I am loyal to’. So what was my loyalty to Jesus calling me to do when I started feeling like I am loved and accepted because of my works? It called me to drop everything else, and fight and push out these lies from my life to replace them with the truth of GOD. Yes, in that season that was my service to Jesus. Pick up the sword and cut off all lies and submit my polluted mind to Jesus and let HIM renew it.

 

4. SO WORK IS NOT IMPORTANT? (Luke 17:7-10)
Ummm, I think it is. It keeps you motivated and keeps you going. But I have to keep checking my heart and keep praying that I look at my works unto Lord the way HE looks at it. In the word HE asks you –  “Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Now, this servant if he knew how much HIS master loves HIM unconditionally – had his heart yearned for this small appreciation. In fact, he would have kept doing and doing and doing awed by how loved he is. I keep telling myself –  Sneha, do not make Jesus small in your eyes. He loves “you” and is not dependant on what you do for HIM. Check your understanding of HIM. Faith is always to be put in someone or something, it is always relational and it gives you an identity – out of which flows out your vision and hence your responses to life. So, faith navigates your service and not the other way round. Are you faithful to Jesus? Wow, go ahead and change the world for HIM.

 

My prayer for you is that you focus on what was done for you by Jesus and what has made you into more than what you can do and you will become out of it. You will find yourself at the place of serving lovingly !!

Judgement and Justice!!

Judgement is that stone that you are not entitled to throw because the only one who was entitled to throw it, refused to even pick it up.

I will be honest from the beginning – “Judgement is that stone that you are not entitled to throw – because the only one who was entitled to throw it, refused to even pick it up.”

Let me clarify before we move forward – judgement doesn’t include correcting with love or helping someone see their mistake to bring good to them. But with so much of “not so good” stuff happening around us and people closest to you leading lives that can be easily tagged as “EVIL”, it is hard not to judge. You know why? Because Judgement is more of a perspective than an action and changing the perspective is always a challenge.

Matthew 7 tells me when I judge (make an opinion or conclusion about someone of why they are whatever they are or what they do whatever they do negatively), I need more help than the person who is being judged by me. I cannot see things clearly but I think I do (John 9:41). What should I do then? How can I ever see someone clearly? The good news is that you do not have to see others clearly to not judge them. You need to see yourself clearly to not judge them.

There was a vision that God gave me when I was struggling in this area. HE showed me 5 vessels made of clay. All 5 of them slipped off from the table and broke into pieces. HE told me you are one of these vases, so now tell me which one is better broken or worse broken than you? I said – “God, what kind of question is it? How can brokenness be compared?” HE said – “Look again, some of them have broken into more pieces than you and look at that one which looks like beyond repair. Don’t you think they are worse and you are still ok.” I said – “But God, all of them need to be repaired and I cannot tell you which one is better or worse than me because I am broken too”. God replied – “Exactly, then don’t you realise when I hear my one daughter judging another – I see one broken vase telling the other broken vase, ‘hey I’m not in as many pieces as you’. When mankind fell from ME it broke and no one was lesser or more broken.”

That’s how judgement looks like to GOD. We need to completely stop categorising sin (result of separation from GOD) on the basis of how acceptable or unacceptable it is according to the culture or society. I gossip but at least I do not smoke like her!! I trust God in hard times but look at him, he never even comes to the church!! Well yes I once did try porn but I have never had sex outside marriage like you!! Yeah I have never done big sins apart from just lying sometimes!

Really? Are we serious? Do you know this is blindness when you cannot see your pieces but can count the pieces of others lives one by one. That is a different story if you think you do not have pieces – then you need Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:10. Since the beginning sinlessness has been a gift from God and not a human achievement so we need to get our facts right there.

In this world that already has so much of criticism we are called to model Jesus – not pick up the stone – get on our knees and intercede for the broken vessels of GOD . People say I can’t believe GOD loves me the way HE tells me – I have never seen anyone loving like that – then show them and love them like Jesus. We are called to do justice to our brothers and sisters by giving them mercy and compassion when they need it the most (Zec 7:9) and not judge them. You cannot be against people and then expect to see changes in their lives. You cannot sit on the judgement seat and expect them to evolve.You need to get down and stand with them and draw their hearts towards Father`s love and His unfailing kindness”

What is Righteousness and Sin Anyway?

Even after being born again I continued to wonder – what is righteousness and sin? Was I always supposed to do everything right and perfectly because I am under HIS radar? I knew HE loved me but did HIS pleasure in me fluctuate according to my performance?  

Even after being born again I continued to wonder – what is righteousness and sin? Was I always supposed to do everything right and perfectly because I am under HIS radar? I knew HE loved me but did HIS pleasure in me fluctuate according to my performance?  

For years I constantly strived to reach that one point in my life where God would or could say – “Finally, I am satisfied with her”. Well guess what I kept striving and trying but I could not reach that place in my head. I felt flawed and useless because I felt God saw me like that because of my failure to remain 100% righteous in my acts. This journey in the striving land continued for a long time.  I became extremely self righteous, looked like I knew God and loved HIM but was far far away from His heart for me.

Until one day when I decided to not carry this burden anymore and leave GOD. But a deepest part of my heart knew God loved me (even though He expects perfection). Many questions resonated in my heart like, “Why does this GOD whose love took HIM to grave, treat me so bad and harshly?” This God either did not die for me and if HE did then what happened to HIM?

So I decided to go to GOD the way I was and asked HIM – “Jesus do YOU love me unconditionally or not?”
I heard this appealing voice – “Yes I do love you unconditionally but you have not given me a chance to define it to you. Since I am love, freedom, righteousness and kindness, you have to let Me define these for you”

My eyes opened and I could see my blindness. Yes, I knew the cross, the death, the resurrection but I failed to see the gentle forgiving heart behind it. See when the world forgives you – it expects you to maintain either certain level of brilliance or would still keep talking about what you did. God doesn’t forgive like that! His forgiveness is just not a spot in heaven which you need to somehow manage to not lose. His forgiveness restores you to become who you were always supposed to be. HIS offspring who is righteous and has 100 percent bold access to HIS lap. His death paid your price but HIS resurrection gave you a new life – which is righteous by definition and not performance (ROMANS 5:10 – For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!) Does that mean – I don’t live a righteous life since God has done all the work already? Can I do whatever I want to?

No, I completely believe we are called to be righteous and not sin but today I want to re-define them for you. Righteousness is not an act. It is being and believing (Genesis 15:6 – Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness). It is not an earned title but a received gift through faith. When Adam was created by God, nowhere in the book of Genesis have I found Adam “striving” to please God for a happy fellowship. HIS source of righteousness was that HE was in GOD and HE believed GOD for who GOD is and what GOD said Adam was. It was his God given legal right to “BE” with GOD and dwell with HIM – that my friends is righteousness. Every good deed or a truthful stand you take -that flows out of you as a result of this relationship with GOD is not righteousness. Those are the fruit of operating as who you are (though that’s the banner people like to put on it) . God says, “Your righteous acts are like filthy rags for me” (Isaiah 64:6). God does not ask you to display your righteous acts but to demonstrate HIS righteousness (Isaiah 42:6 – “I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness). So righteousness is about and through GOD while fruits are through you if you believe in HIS righteousness that HE has given you to wear (Isaiah 61:10 – For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness; John 11:40 – Believe and you will see the glory of GOD).

Righteousness is running to HIM for help while fighting temptations, to love others when it’s hard and yourself when it is the hardest, to take refuge in HIM when you are in trouble, to call upon HIM for answers, it is to remove your daily fluctuating measure of self and replace it with GOD’s never changing love for you.

SIN on the other hand is not committing disgusting gossip stirring wrong acts (they are the fruit of Sin). Adam eating the apple was not sin – it was a fruit of SIN . His sin was when he did not run to GOD in the time of temptation. Or for that matter Eve did not stand strong on the truth of her power and authority. That was her sin! Lack of trust in what God has created her to be. She was the righteous one already and had  full time access to GOD – she could have made a choice to ask and receive. Sadly, she did not believe GOD and who she was through HIM. She fell into sin and committed the most talked about event ever.

On an honest note, we young people who love GOD need to focus more on what the cross has made them into rather than trying to become righteous by acting like we have everything together. This generation needs to stop focusing on doing first and should start relying on what has been done for them already. Then, the creation would witness no child of GOD losing a battle or giving up on GOD`s heart.