This article is part of the Help! series.
Expectation vs. Reality
Some people expect the pastor’s wife to have the most ideal and perfect relationship with God. After all, she lives with the pastor, sleeps next to him, has ready access to help for any questions or problems that arise, right?
Ah, now that’s a laugh! We all know that a pastor’s schedule, his energy level, and his own personal needs prevent a pastor’s wife from relying solely on her husband to feed her spiritually.
What should we—women married to men in ministry—do to stay spiritually radiant? How can God’s redeeming love fill our hearts in such a way that we begin to live outside our own needs, gladly giving ourselves to his eternal purposes in our marriage and family, our church and community?
Feeding Your Soul
One way—I believe the most important way—is to spend time daily with our Redeemer. Meeting regularly with Jesus is necessary if we want to enjoy and support vibrant spiritual health. Just as physical food feeds our bodies the Bible is food for our souls.
We need time every day in the word; otherwise, our souls will stagnate and settle into a malnourished subsistence that slowly starts to feel normal. If we are not feeding our hearts and minds with eternal, heavenly food, our souls will shrink for lack of nourishment.
Think of all we feed our bodies and minds. Think of the time you spent just this past week on food shopping and meal prepping, on eating and cleaning up, on working, on housekeeping and child minding, on reading and surfing the Internet, on exercising and watching TV and playing games on your phone. Now compare that to the time you spent in nearness to God through prayer and Bible study, meditation and memorization. It’s not easy, is it? There is so much we must do in this life, along with all we want to do!
But in order to support our husband in meaningful ways, we need to be supported ourselves with an all-powerful heavenly support. We need daily refreshment and encouragement from which we can draw as we seek to love our pastor well. The best and most satisfying way to get that refreshment is by going deep into God’s word in study and meditation and spending regular time in prayer. We need to feast on the abundance of his house and let him give us drink from his river of delights (Psalm 36:8).
What things are precious to you? Is God’s love precious to you? Can you say with David, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God!” (Psalm 36:7)? Maybe you feel far from God’s love these days. Ask him to reignite and increase your love for him as you read this chapter. “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).
David tells us that God’s love is steadfast. What does that mean? It means that God’s precious love is constant and steady. It can be depended upon. It is unfailing. His love never falters. He fixes his love upon us with clear, unchangeable intent. We can count on God’s love. Human love is very fragile, as many of us know from personal experience. Some of us have been deeply hurt by people we thought we could love and trust who in the end proved unfaithful. But God’s love will never falter or waver.
The Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22–23)
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)
What do you abound in? Complaints? Fatigue? Fears? Housework? Bills?
Snuggle in Close to His Heart
Life can be scary. Ministry can be scary. But there is a place where those who know God through Christ can find shelter and relief from anything that this world assaults them with, a place where God’s precious, steadfast love is abundant.
Where is that place? David describes it as in the shadow of God’s wings:
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
To be in the shadow of someone’s wings means coming near; it hints at snuggling in close to the heart. There is a sanctuary that God opens up to anyone who dares to draw near to him. He spreads out his wings and invites us to nestle in close to his heart. It is there that God offers you a love that will never let you go. He secures within your soul an eternal love, and nothing can ever wrench you out of his loving embrace.
In the New Testament Paul puts it this way: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39).
He fixes his love upon us with clear, unchangeable intent. We can count on God’s love.
It’s as if Paul is saying, “Imagine the worst scenario possible. Do you think God’s love can remain credible even there?” Dear sister, nothing can separate you from the love of God through Christ Jesus. Not problems at church or your failures or your husband’s failures, not your sins or someone else’s sins against you, and not even your indifferent or dry spirit. Nothing will ever be able to separate you from his love. That is his promise, and we serve the God who always keeps his promises.
The Most Fulfilling Romance of All
What God wants us to see through his holy word to us is that our lives are a love story. Our sufferings and our failings do not define us; the precious, steadfast love of God defines us. Our redemption is the most beautiful love story ever told. Relish it. Live your life out of an inner fullness. Don’t live from the outside in—live from the inside out. Always start with God and his fullness. You are loved with a love so vast that it will take all eternity to experience it.
God made the human heart. He created your heart for worship. Worship is more than going to church or singing hymns or praying. To worship means to give your heart away to something. Will you give your heart away in deeper abandon to God even today as you read?
You are engaged to Christ now. Your earthly death will be your wedding day. He is courting you now—winning your heart through his precious steadfast love. Keep responding to him in these courtship days as you wait for that glorious heavenly wedding. Open your heart again to Christ right now. He knows you best and loves you most. Let the precious, steadfast love of God flood your life with a deep beauty and a new spiritual radiance.
We often come to God thinking we’re making a covenant with him. That is part of it, but your salvation is much larger than that. Within the triune Godhead, God made a decision with Christ about you—about me. Christ effected it on the cross, and the Holy Spirit sealed it with his very presence in your innermost heart.
Relish your redemption. Make your relationship with your heavenly Father the most important one in your whole life.
Show it by your schedule and bank account and conversations and relationships. Refresh and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ. Feast on the abundance of his house and let him give you drink from his river of delights as you take refuge in the shadow of his wings.
This article is adapted from Help! I’m Married to My Pastor: Encouragement for Ministry Wives and Those Who Love Them by Jani Ortlund.
Popular Articles in This Series
If you have struggled with this doctrine, you are not alone. Even Jonathan Edwards once wrestled with it before he became fully satisfied with it.
We won’t love God’s word until he helps us to do it. And the beautiful thing is that he will.
Losing your temper means you’ve placed anger in the saddle and you are now galloping along at its command.
As our world continues to speak about inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance, it can seem like Christianity is embarrassingly behind the times.