During the Christmas holidays my family went to the theatre to see a movie. My daughter, Ann Marie, had already seen the film a week earlier and was eager for us all to enjoy it too. As the feature began, it was a blurry picture, and Ann Marie boldly (I thought) marched to the manager to ask that the picture be rightly focused. Then we were able to see and enjoy the movie as it was meant to be experienced.
This month's letter has to do with being rightly focused, too. Neva Whitney uses lessons learned through the deaths of two friends to remember freshly why the Lord has us all in ministry. It's all about people: the very ones Jesus came "to seek and to save." I pray we can all refocus, if need be, to a bright and clear view of the importance of reaching out and using our opportunities to keep the Gospel "the main thing." Then we can enjoy life as the Lord meant it to be experienced.
We're in the Right Business, Ladies!
By Neva Whitney
"Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back." - Proverbs 24:11
Two recent deaths touched my family and reminded me that as pastors' wives, we, along with our husbands, are in the right business - the business of saving souls.
The first death I want to tell you about was a rather remarkable Christian man named Ron. He wasn't much older than Rick and I. He and his wife had raised five children and were enjoying a number of grandchildren and the results of a successful landscaping business - when the Lord used cancer to call him home.
I knew Ron mostly through my two sons who had each worked with his crews while they were in high school. Working for this Christian man had been a wonderful opportunity for each of our guys to begin to get a handle on what it means to work hard, to interact with other people, to earn a living, and to work for a strong male outside of our home.
Over the years Josh and Mike both had many wonderful conversations with Ron which they would come home and tell us about. In fact, Josh's heart for the work our church in Salt Lake City is doing with Mormon families (almost 50 Mormon families have come to know Christ in the last three years) can be partly attributed to Ron's understanding of the Mormon beliefs, and Josh's many conversations with him.
And the same is true with our younger son Mike who also worked for Ron several years later. Over Spring Break last year, Mike came home from college and worked for Ron that week. Mike originally was planning to use some of the money he earned to get a tattoo when he got back to school. He and a Christian football player there at the University of Nebraska at Omaha had each decided what tattoo they wanted. They thought it would be a great witness.
Though Rick and I had tried to dissuade Mike, he was convinced that this was something he wanted to do. Now I know that a tattoo really isn't that big of a thing, but the topic came up during the week and Ron said something that convinced Mike that he should not do it. Ron probably talked about the same things Rick and I were saying, but got through to our boy.
My sons also appreciated Ron taking an interest in their lives outside of work. He came to both of their high school graduation parties. Ron showed up at a high school football game that Mike was playing in. It was such a cold snowy night in the bleachers and we were ready to head for the warm car, but Ron found us and sat through the rest of the game with us.
Ron spent hours dialoguing with Mike and even some of his sisters about dating, or rather their choice of not dating in high school. This was a new concept for Ron and he wanted to explore with our kids whether this was their conviction, or were they just humoring us.
Another death that touched my family recently was the classmate of my high school daughter. Some young driver was going too fast and the car Chelsea was riding in was hit. She was air-lifted to an area hospital and then later the next day taken off of life support.
Although my daughter Becca did not know Chelsea very well, the death touched her in two different ways. First, it reminded her of another classmate (and good friend) who was killed in a different car accident several years earlier. And it reminded her of her cousin who died tragically just a year and a half ago.
Rebecca is a peer counselor at her high school so the principal and school counselors came looking for her and other "trained" students to sit and listen to the students who were more personally touched by these tragic deaths. At first some of the other peer counselors were concerned that they wouldn't know what to say to the young girl's grieving friends. But Becca told them, "The kids just want someone to listen, as they talk about their friend and what they are feeling."
These two recent deaths, an older Christian man and a young high school girl, reminded me afresh that heaven and hell are real. Death is a part of life. We do not know when the Lord is going to call someone home, whether young or older.
So giving our life for the Great Commission, sharing our faith with our lost family, friends, and neighbors, and even with strangers, is the most important thing we can do on this earth.
Sometimes, as a pastor's wife I can live a pretty padded life - a life surrounded by Christians. I need to work to find opportunities to interact with unbelievers and to be able to talk with them--about life and about faith. Like people in my church, I need to be praying for the lost, speaking up when I am in different situations, and then putting myself out there to share the Gospel. Jesus said, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost."
I know we are all very busy being a helpmate to our husband, caring for our children and our home, showing hospitality, and being involved in ministry as needed in our church. But as pastors' wives we need to keep the Gospel as one of our primary concerns.
We need to remember that our primary focus should be reaching out and sharing our faith with the lost and trusting God to give us the opportunities and the wisdom and the boldness to take advantage of them.
Thanks for listening.