When our first child was born, H wondered how we would buy diapers. We lived in a small, rural community where my husband served a small, sweet congregation. His salary was small, too—like the community and that sweet congregation—and we squeaked in at the end of each month with barely two pennies to our name.
Adding diapers to the mix was more than a notion.
We tweaked our budget and our spending, and we held our breath and crossed our fingers. We wondered if this particular ministry was the job for us, or whether we should pursue a more lucrative endeavor. Every now and then, we considered moving on. And then, we’d look across the field to where our neighbor lived or H would spend some time in the community barber shop or we’d share Sunday dinner with a family from the church, and we knew we were exactly where we were meant to be—overflowing bank account or not.
One Sunday in church, not too long ago, H told the story about how he wondered if we’d be able to provide for our son when he was born. “We always had diapers,” my husband said. “We look back and wonder how we did it, and there really is no explanation, except to say that God took care of us.”
It’s been that way for all the years we’ve been married and all the years we raised our children to adulthood, and that’s the way it is now, as we work and rest and play from the home base of our empty nest. It hasn’t always been diapers we’ve worried about. Eventually, we did move from that small community, taking small pay increases as we went. But there have been other bills that came due and made us wonder all the old questions all over again: Is this particular ministry the job for us? Should we look for a different type of work?
And then we look back over our life together and at all the times we paid the bills or had the privilege of giving to others or helped our children go to college, and we don’t have any explanation except to say that God took care of us.
When we are faithless, even then, God is faithful toward us (II Timothy 2:13).
For some people, it takes many instances of trial and error to learn one simple truth about God. For me, this money thing is the lesson I have to keep relearning. I get confused and think I’m supposed to provide for my needs, forgetting God is the expert in things like that. I get wrapped up in thinking my salary is the goal of my work. I forget my work is a gift from God and that it can be an expression of worship and a catalyst for change in the world.
Last month, my full-time job—with its full-time salary and benefits—went away. When I learned my position was being eliminated, I knew I should have been feeling a deep-seated panic. But I didn’t. Instead, I felt the confidence that God cares for me, has cared for me, and will continue to care for me. I can’t take credit for that feeling of peace. And, in the days to come I may have moments of panic as the bills keep rolling in. But for now, I have this touchstone of all the ways God has provided for us over the years. It’s enough to give me hope, even when I can’t see what’s around the bend.
Some questions for you: Can you point to times in your life where it is clear God provided for you? What did that feel like? Where would you turn if your income were not enough for you to meet your obligations? What would be your first reaction? Is the work you’re doing every day (whether paid or not) an expression of worship? How might your daily work be a catalyst for change in the world?
I truly believe being a mom is an expression of worship. Whether a stay at home mom or a working mom, it is an act of love to God and those that you are caring for.
I also think motherhood is a service to humanity when you train your children to respect the rights and life of others.
Although I am not a perfect mother, I am a mom that did does and try to train and guide my children in paths of truth and righteousness. I say “did does and try” because three of my children are now adults. They are all productive and God loving young women.
Just like Jochabed trained Moses, I view the work of faithful mothers (training them to love God and serve others) as a catalyst to change the world.
Lisa Dye Norris
Tonya….. I pray that women read this and understand the significance of faithful mothers!
Amen. Amen, Tonya. I agree with you. Whether a mom at home or a mom who works outside the home, motherhood is indeed a beautiful act of worship.
Thank God for mothers!
Your story and mine are very alike, seeing God’s hand of provision in our lives through all of these decades of ministry. I am tempted to worry when I think about the future, but looking back and remembering His faithfulness always helps me.
I often wonder if these feelings are unique to ministry families. But, I know that isn’t the case. Somehow, though, knowing other ministry families can relate makes it feel less isolating.
I love this post so much and will forward to Jim. You remind me of David, here, going up against Goliath and saying no biggie: God was with you when you faced the lion and the bear, and he’ll be with you for the giant. And He will be; of course He will. I love you bunches and bunches!!!
I just read that story this morning! I hadn’t realized that David was actually running toward Goliath when he flung that stone at the giant. I mean, dude was confident! I want to be like that in the face of my concerns. Still praying for you and your family, friend. xoxo
I can point to several times when God has clearly provided for me and my family. Every time, something unexpected happens: a new job opportunity, a quick sale on a house, meeting someone with resources we didn’t know to look for, having someone give to us when they have no knowledge of our situation. When I was young and on my own, I looked for quick fixes and tried to do things on my own. I fell into a payday lending cycle, which was terrible. Thankfully, I got out of that and never looked back. Now, I always pray for provision first. And confess my need for prayer to those I trust so they can intercede on my behalf.
These days, I consider my work to be mothering and writing. I’ve personally never really thought about mothering as worship. However, I have moments that bring me to worship. Creativity through words–whether written, typed, or sung in a song–has always been my chosen form of worship. In any case, I think actively using and sharing your God-given talents and gifts in your work can be a catalyst for change.
This is beautiful, Claresa. Thank you for sharing these stories. I’ve had some of those same feelings lately—feelings of worship as I write. Those moments surprised me, right there in Starbucks. I’m so glad you’re exercising your gifts. We are the beneficiaries, sister.
Like I said on Facebook I’m blank as far as the answers go, though I have seen God provide when I was at the end of my rope a few times. My work is an offering of who I am, how I see things back to the world and to God. I don’t know if it’s a catalyst for change; I don’t know if it has to be. This is a wise and encouraging post. My Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides, provide for your every need. (I was sorry to hear about your job. That is a loss and a grief, even though, new, better things are waiting.)
Thank you for your kind words and well wishes.
I have to say, I’m quite certain your work is a catalyst for change. Your students are blessed by the same wisdom that blesses me when you send me notes, or point me toward just the right book or article. I don’t know that our work has to be a catalyst for change but, when we’re working from our passion—our deep and God-given desires and gifts—I think it’s probably inevitable.
Well, that’s quite a blessing. Thank you…Blessings back to you…
Lisa Dye Norris
Thank you for sharing your transparency! People need to know that God is faithful to perform what He has promised. How refreshing to shape our attitude of what we do as result of God gifting us and using it as an expression of worship.
Absolutely! Pastors and ministers don’t have a monopoly on work that matters to God. Teachers, architects, musicians, artists, accountants, politicians, and more each do work that matters to God. When we offer that work to him as worship, we are ministering…right where we work.
I love everything you write sweet friend, but THIS…I LOVE this. Yes, I can point to times when I know it was God who provided and not meeting my obligations gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Most recently, it was when I left my “regular” part-time job and the wonderful pay that came along with it. God has provided every step of the way with something I sold on ebay or extra pay in my husbands pay check or some other “god thing” to make the checkbook work. I continue to be amazed at his grace and goodness.
As for my everyday work being an act of worship…without a doubt! For the first time in a long time I feel like I am giving back in ways I haven’t in a long time whether it is working with someone to launch their book, proofing and editing an article for a writer friend and a number of other things I am doing now for little or no pay but I know it is what I am called to do – at least for now.
Thank you for this, Deidra. God always provides. It may not look like we envisioned, but he ALWAYS provides.
It’s so fun to see where the road is leading you, Mary! And…lucky me!…I got to be part of it! You’re doing amazing work and I have the utmost confidence that you’re just getting started!
Being the main breadwinner is not easy for me-the Lord has provided in the season of our lives. I thank God for the little things: warmth, shelter, health, family, His word–and books. Jehovah Jireh! Faithful King!
It’s a lot of pressure to be the main breadwinner—whether it’s for a family, or for yourself. Ultimately, however, God is the main breadwinner. I kept…keep…forgetting that. But, your list of things for which to be grateful point me right back to the truth. Jehovah Jireh! Amen!
Amen, Deidra. Thanks for turning that around for me. xo
I love this Deidra. Last Spring I decided to end my full time teaching career in order to pursue my book endeavor. It was scary and I wasn’t sure how my family was going to be able to do without the income, but He made it work! I can point to various times where I have felt completely lost or over my head and God stepped in and showed me the way. We’re so lucky to have such a loving God!
Somehow, it’s as if, giving up the things that matter so much to us—releasing our hold—makes way for what God intended all along. It’s both mysterious and miraculous.
Okay, you’re all in my business, now. (Smile) I am a therapeutic mental health counselor and yes, I am on the front lines doing God’s work, and yes it is an expression of worship to bless the mentally ill. Yet sometimes it doesn’t feel very good. I get mentally weary, and i wonder if its where I am supposed to be for several reasons. And my husband who does the same work, does too. Nonetheless, i keep moving forward and doing God’s work because I know I am called to do it. i can’t explain all the challenges with work, money and with God’s lessons of provision.. yet just the other day, a fiend called and asked me to pray with her because she was being thrown out of her home, and from the depths of my soul, what came out of my mouth, shocked me. we had a talk about El Shaddai, * ( The Breasted One, The Pourer forth of blessings) ; and I told her to just put on some praise music and worship Him in the beauty of holiness. She did and not within hours , or a day.. but within MINUTES she had a phone call & everything she needed. Again I cannot explain it, but then I have to remember too, that He is on the Throne. And as long as I do everything I can do, he will sustain me. Thanks for the reminder. ~ Jenn
This is a good word, right here, Jennifer. God’s love and provision really does defy explanation. And, we’re not talking “name it and claim it” or prosperity gospel. This is more about recognizing that everything, including each breath of every day, is a gift from God. I needed the reminder, too. And, I’m sure I’ll need the reminder again in just a few minutes. Peace to you!
And you, Deidra. Hurray to new beginnings!
Thanks Deidra. And I appreciate your words. I have resource Iv’e found.. even when I am not even fully spirtually aware of it. 😉 Peace be unto you as well! Excited about reading with you soon! 😉
I am kind of liking living on the edge, but you just don’t know what’s coming next. There’s a real joy in living in the Divine Surprise. Thanks for this reminder… to trust
The Divine Surprise. I like that, David. It’s definitely a mixture of joy and uncertainty. But, peace, too.
Wow, thank you for sharing this tough time, Deidra. I can really identify with it and find myself saying “haven’t I learned this lesson enough times!?” My husband and I are in a very sensitive time, waiting for him to get into a medical residency so we can stop living in limbo. Or what really feels like limbo because we’ve been here for 4 years. I don’t like my job for many reasons and 99% moments of the day struggle to see it as anything more than a paycheck helping us get through this limbo. While trying to help myself live in the present and stop calling it limbo 😉 I certainly fail in using my work as a form of worship, and worry instead that one day I’ll miss a step and set us farther back from our goal.
I’ve had a couple of jobs that I really, really hated. I mean, really. Terrible bosses. Not enough resources. Mean clients. You name it. I experienced it. When the job is difficult and it’s combined with feeling like all the pressure is on to make money to keep the family afloat and together, that is the perfect storm for all kinds of yuck. I’m so sorry you feel as if you’re in limbo. Something I’ve learned about living in limbo is that God is quite possibly at work, upstream. When the Israelites crossed through the Red Sea on dry ground, I imagine that water began receding miles away, out of the vision or earshot of anyone standing there at the edge of the sea with the Egyptian army pressing in behind them. But, God knew what was up, and he was getting things ready so that—at just the right time—dry ground! Praying for you today as you wait, Julie, and for all that is in the works…upstream.
I had never thought of that illustration! Thank you.