October 28, 2013

The Best Seat in the House

Last Sunday night, our elder and staff team came over for dinner to get to know Matt, a pastor from one of our partner churches in Manchester, England. Our boys marveled at his accent and enjoyed the Man City and Manchester United gifts he brought along for them, and the adults listened with fascination as Matt told stories about his church and about what God is doing in his post-Christian nation.

There were 13 of us squeezed in my dining room listening to those stories. Eleven were expected, but at the last minute, an elder's wife called and asked if their overnight guests, who were also in ministry, could come as well. The more the merrier, I said! One of our elders--an engineer--rearranged the dining room so we could all sit together in one space.

So there we were, the 13 of us, getting to know new faces and listening to stories of God at work. The two guests, as it so happened, are involved in a ministry to the United Nations in New York City. Before that, they were missionaries in Africa, and before that, were involved in campus ministry at the University of Virginia right here in Charlottesville.
After dinner, after serving coffee to an Englishman, we pushed our chairs back from the table and talked. We heard about how wide open the doors are among diplomats coming to the United Nations from other countries. We heard about people coming to Christ in Manchester. And we listened in awe as our two guests from New York talked about how they had prayed many years ago for a church to reach university students in our very city.

At one point, I surveyed the room and pondered all these things in my heart. I saw people that I love that are co-laborers in Charlottesville, but I also saw the bigger picture of God's work in the world. God working in Charlottesville. God working in Manchester. God working among the nations. Amazing, simply amazing.

I've thought about that moment the 13 of us were stuffed into my dining room several times since last Sunday. I've mainly thought about how extremely blessed I am to be a pastor's wife. Simply because I am a pastor's wife, I get a backstage pass to see and engage with God's work in this world. I get to hear stories and meet incredible people. My children get to hear stories and meet incredible people. I get to talk about Jesus with people, and I get to expound on His gospel of grace. I get to see Him bring people to faith and loose their chains. I get a glimpse at the big picture, and it's beautiful.

I've thought about this, too, because it's pretty easy to get deflated by all the other things we see and hear as a pastor's wife: the complaints against our husband, the people leaving the church or the faith, the hurts that we can't process with others, and the deep wounds and consequences from sin that we watch others experience. Those parts of ministry aren't easy and sometimes if we think too much about them, we want to quit.

That moment around my dining table reminded me to think on the good, to recall what God has done and recount it constantly and rejoice in even the smallest of victories. And to remember that the blessings and rewards of ministry far outweigh the difficulties. Being a pastor's wife is the best seat in the house, even if it's a folding chair crammed in an overcrowded dining room.