When a young lady and I were about five months into our relationship forty plus years ago, and beginning to think the Lord was leading us to marriage, we knew we had to resolve a serious impediment that had been in our relationship all along, but now became a roadblock we could not get around.
I had years earlier committed my life to serve the Lord as a pastor. I felt this call while in college, and had come to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend seminary in preparation for a pastoral ministry. I was firmly convinced this was God’s will for my life.
The young lady in question had also come to Grand Rapids, to attend college in preparation for what she believed to be God’s calling in her life, which was to the mission field, specifically, to Bangladesh. She was firmly convinced this was God’s will for her life.
Marriage between a pastor in the United States and a missionary in Bangladesh would be, to say the least, difficult.
“Hi, Hon, it’s time for our regular monthly phone call. How are you?”
“Oh, fine. Busy. It’s the rainy season here and there is a lot of illness, especially among the children.”
“Sorry to hear that. We are in the midst of a building program here. I never knew there were so many details that had to be cared for.”
“I’m praying for you, every day. Oh, I have to cut our call short, I’m afraid. A village mother just brought her really sick baby in. I have to help the mission doctor care for her. I miss you. I love you. Bye.”
“Me, too. Bye.”
No. That did not appeal to either of us at all. So, we had to make a decision. We had several options, each of them challenging. We could part company. End the relationship. She go her way and I go mine. That would resolve the ministry issues. But we each had a growing conviction that God was leading us to share our lives together.
I could change my ministry commitment. Give up the pastorate. Go to the mission field. Even go to Bangladesh. That didn’t seem what the Lord had been directing, but I could do it.
She could change her ministry commitment. Give up the mission field. Stay in the States. Serve as a pastor’s wife. That didn’t seem what the Lord had been directing, but she could do it.
We agreed we would not discuss the issue any more than we had. We would not put pressure on each other for a decision. Instead we would each spend time alone with God, seeking His will for us as individuals and as a couple. We would let Him do whatever persuading was necessary for us to do His will. We decided we would discuss His leading with each other on an agreed-upon date.
I prayed. Hard. Frequently. I told the Lord I did not want to mess up His plan for my life or for this young lady’s life. I told Him I would go to the mission field, even Bangladesh, if He would reveal it as His will. I knew the young lady was praying as well.
The date came, and we found a place where we could talk privately, not always easy on a campus of several hundred students. I shared my conviction with her, that I was convinced of two things. First, I felt with all my heart that God wanted me to marry her. I was certain of that. And, two, God wanted me to serve Him as a pastor in the United States. I was certain of that.
I waited, certain that she was going to reveal that God had led her to end the relationship because He wanted her on the mission field. However, I was not troubled. I had firm convictions based on spending time with the Lord, and felt that whatever her answer was, it would be okay because God would take care of it.
She expressed her total agreement with both my statements. God had led her to understand that He wanted her to serve Him as a pastor’s wife.
Forty plus years later, we look back on a life of ministry together. Now retired, we still are actively involved in ministry. I am so glad we were both willing to let God lead us with His own divine persuasion.
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