Several years ago, I prayed to God for an early retirement for my husband from the post of being the Senior Pastor in a slum city. After seven years of being a pastor’s wife, I could identify only a very low profile of spiritual growth in the congregation and a high inclination towards worldly pleasures particularly among the women in the community. I me, the fire of Christ’s love and compassion gave room to icy cynicism. Needy people became a nuisance to me. I was sick and tired of the down-trodden. Working late in the night, trying to entertain the visitors at home, attending weddings and burdials, remembering the church routine, taking care of my husband’s and children’s welfare, I was disgusted with life. The shattered dreams, broken homes and various other problems of my congregation no longer melted my heart. I said Lord, “It’s enough! I am fed-up. If not a retirement, atleast a transfer. Please send our family to a remote hill station where we can enjoy every moment of our lives.”
The Lord listened patiently, heard my supplication and my husband was transferred to a hill station. The Almighty God rejected my first option but granted me the second. Although my husband preferred to remain in a place where there was need for his services to the broken hearted, I won in the ultimate bargain.
After five months, one day, I was seated in a park, in our new place when two children with unkempt clothes, unbraided hair and dirt-streaked faces squatted on the grass near me. I looked at them avoiding eye contact and tried to maintain a distance. Munching potato chips I was enjoying nature in the best of the season. Before I could sneak off, the elder child looked at me with pleading eyes. My mind reasoned, “may be she expects a few coins to hold on to life.’ I opened my hand bag with a thought to help them.
When I offered her what came to my hand, she refused to accept it. Instead she told me the sad story of her dysfunctional family. “My name is Mary, and I am 12; and Jerin, my brother is 10. My father, once a famous businessman has become a terrible drunkard and my mom has come to clean dishes and so some menial work in a wedding hall nearby. She told us to stay in the park for two hours and promised us good dinner tonight.” I was shocked. Then Mary asked, “What’s your job?” A feeling of shame overtook me, I answered her in low tone, “I’m a pastor’s wife.” A few seconds of silence followed, Jerrin said softly, “we’ve been to many churches a few times and heard wonderful truths about Christ Jesus healing and feeding people. Has He stopped all this now? Is Jesus alive? Can you tell me where He is today?”
I felt Christ asking the same question which He had asked His disciple Peter two thousand years ago, “Sarah, do you love Me above all these things?” (John 21:15). I shivered before two young children, for the first time in my life my own conscience rebelled against me. The spirit of hardness in my soul melted giving birth to an eternal fountain of a spirit of love and compassion. (Romans 5:5). Asking the Lord to forgive me, I uttered initially a few words of encouragement and hope, which were truly meant for me. The surrounding were very cold, clouds gathered above showing signs of a probable shower but my heart was warm deep inside as Christ’s fire of love and compassion was rekindled by the stare of those love-hungry eyes of the two children. With tears welling in my eyes, I emphatically said, “Jesus is alive and He loves dear children like you. Eagerly He listens to your prayers therefore cling to Him alone. I strengthened them by saying that poverty cannot separate them from the love of God.”
That evening, I shed tears at the feet of the Lord and requested Him to accept my plea again. This time it was a transfer back to the pastorate of that slum city where people were truly in need of my services. I am hopeful that the Lord who transformed my life would have touched the lives of dear Mary, Jerrin and their parents. Ever since this incident, whenever I tend to backslide I hear, “Sarah do you love Me?” It is fifteen years since I stared at those love-hungry eyes and I continue to be a dutiful pastor’s wife.
(Note: Women whose husbands are in the Lord’s ministry need to show the fruits of the spirit in good measure when compared with others. Please check whether you are a source of comfort to your husband in the ministry or an obstacle to him. It is time to analyze and change since there are many who are questioning “Is Jesus Christ alive today?”