Years ago, I encouraged my husband to leave the corporate world in order to go into full-time ministry. I had seen his relationship with God up close and knew he was wise, humble and gifted. He was what you would call a “reluctant leader”, but God had made it clear to me that He had more work for him to do.
One day I heard a challenging message at work about how we are to be generous with our encouragement of people in our lives, especially as it relates to their calling. I knew that God had been leading me to support my husband in this direction and this message really got my attention. In fact, I came right home and had the conversation with my husband. He had been working diligently and faithfully to support our young family, but it was in no way work that made him come alive or that used his God-given gifts.
My words to him that day immediately encouraged him (I told him I was willing to downsize our home/car…whatever it took to support him in the ministry) and he took me at my word. That very week, he gave his notice at work. He quickly found a part-time ministry opportunity and the journey began. As the months passed, he had many interviews for a full-time role that proved disappointing.
The reality was that we were really falling behind financially. We almost lost our home and things were looking grim.
I remember crying out to God in the shower (I was literally crying). I had been so confident that I had obeyed God and yet things were not going well at all. As I prayed, cried and talked with God, I remember saying “I wish you would just give me a sign that everything is going to be OK”. Immediately, I apologized to God. I knew that we weren’t supposed to ask for “signs” – we were to trust Him and believe without the signs. Then, I proceeded to say to God, “Maybe you could just send me flowers? They don’t even have to be from Keith” (that was important because as loving as my husband is – gifts are really not his love language and I thought that might be a challenge even for God 😊).
I was definitely struggling. Because things were so tough, I was trying to process it all with God. I once again apologized to God for what I would describe as my brattiness. I knew He understood. So, as I got out of the bathroom, towel on my head and all, my husband comes in through the front door with flowers in his arms! I can only imagine the look on my face as he walked in. He quickly blurted “they aren’t from me” – to which, through tears I exclaimed “I know they are not from you, they are from God!” He was very confused.
Our God is so incredibly generous. He didn’t “owe me a sign.” I was obeying Him and was merely to trust Him, even when things didn’t make sense to me. Yet, I found myself with flowers that to me clearly meant that God saw me, He knew my fears, my questions and in His loving-kindness reassured me that things would be OK. I was humbled and completely encouraged.
Months later, my husband received an offer to be a youth pastor. We ended up selling our home and moving into a church parsonage. Our family has now been in full-time ministry for 16 years and we continue trusting, serving and loving our most generous God.
We get to be generous with our encouragement to those around us because we serve a truly generous God.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” – Isaiah 26:3
Director of Philanthropy & Advancement, STAR 99.1