I was barely 24 years old, and a newlywed of only two months when I packed my bags and moved across the world to a small, military base on the coast of mainland Japan. Leaving everything I had ever known to join my husband overseas was by far the hardest thing I had done in my life. When I married Grant, I stepped into a world of many unknowns. He was a Marine Officer who felt God’s call on his life to one day become a pastor. In terms of what our future together would look like, that was all I knew.
The day I married Grant, I promised to walk down that road of unknowns with him. I vowed to go where he would go, stay where he would stay, and be wholly committed to God’s call not only on my life, but also on his. Those two things would forever be intertwined. I didn’t step blindly into my new role as a wife. One of the very first things Grant told me when we started dating was how he felt God leading him to the pastorate. He told me he had an insatiable desire to know and preach the Bible. This calling on his life was one of the reasons I fell in love with him.
Before Grant came into my life, I also felt God leading my heart to a life of full-time ministry. I didn’t know if God was calling me to serve Him as a single woman, or if I would get married one day and serve alongside my husband. I hoped and prayed that I would be a wife and mother one day. But one thing God taught me through my season of singleness was that if I did get married, I needed to marry a man I could follow. I wanted the desires God was putting on my heart to be able to flow in support of my future husband’s calling. When I was growing up, my parents described the uniqueness of marriage by saying that “Marriage is two people serving God better together, than they ever could alone.” I saw this modeled very well in my parents’ marriage. My dad is a pastor and my mom has always served the body of Christ alongside him. Their roles in the church look different. My dad preaches and exhorts God’s flock. My mom encourages and supports my dad while also ministering to women in the church. My parents were never in competition with each other or torn between two varying passions in their lives. When Grant and I got married, I vowed wholeheartedly to be his helper because God finally made it clear how my calling to ministry would flesh itself out. I would be Grant’s “helper suitable” (Gen. 2:18), and together, we would serve God in a better way than we ever could alone.
When Grant and I moved to Japan after our wedding, I was apprehensive. I wouldn’t describe myself as the adventurous type. However, as I made this big transition, by God’s grace, I trusted in the God who brought Grant and me together. I knew because I was called to be Grant’s wife, Japan was part of God’s plan for me. I also knew there was no better place for me to be than in the center of God’s will. I grew to really love Japan and the memories we made there. And much to my surprise, a year later, the military sent us back to the states and to my hometown in South Carolina.
Grant and I moved into our first house and sometime later I gave birth to our first child – a little girl. We were just getting settled, when unexpectedly, an opportunity arose where God opened the door for Grant to begin his seminary training sooner than planned. We felt certain God wanted us to walk through this open door. I was excited, but also shocked. I felt like I had just hung my picture frames on our cheery yellow walls, and now, I was taking them down. While my emotions were a sea of ups and downs, I was not despairing. I believed this was God’s will for our little and yet quickly growing family. God made the path clear, and my response in this scenario was to trust God and follow my husband’s leading.
As I grow as a young wife and reflect on where God has brought Grant and me in our marriage thus far, I have learned several things:
- If you are a single woman and God has placed in your heart a desire to get married, pray God would affirm a clear calling in your future husband’s life. Our generation needs men who have huge hearts for God. Men who have visions to raise godly families and be a light of truth in our world. And these men need women who are strong enough to help them get there. I love how my mom has always put it, “Strong men need to marry strong women.” As Christians, we should all aspire to be strong men and women of faith and conviction. This kind of marriage combination is what she’s always called, “power couples.” Instead of asking God to give you an ordinary marriage one day, why not pray for an extraordinary one? Imagine what a generation of young, “power couples” who are wholly committed to God could do! Pray not for a perfect man (for that would be impossible), but for a man who is gripped by the person of Jesus Christ and who desires to do whatever God would have him do. And ask God to be guiding and directing your heart in order to be a strong “helper suitable” to him.
- If you are a married woman, be open to God’s leading in your husband’s life. Maybe the way in which God is directing him is not something you would have planned, but as you pray together as a couple, trust God’s leading through your husband. God gave Adam a task in the Garden of Eden and He created Eve in order to help Adam complete that task (Gen. 2:15,18). If you are married, God has clearly brought you to your husband. So help him, encourage him, pray for him, and be strong in the Lord so that together you can glorify God in bigger ways than you could alone.
- If you are a woman approaching marriage, or already married, remember that your calling as a woman should flow in support of your husband’s calling, not redirect it or run in conflict with it (Titus 2:4-5). As wives, we constantly need to check our hearts to see if we are being submissive to and supportive of our husband’s leading. Are we available to offer wise counsel and a listening ear? Does our husband know we are on his team or are we pressing an agenda that might even be contrary to his calling? We need to be women who are looking out for the welfare of our husbands, not preoccupied with our own. Women in whom our husbands trust wholly and fully (Prov. 31:11-12). Women who rely on the grace of God, because without Him we can do nothing well.
Lately, I have been incredibly encouraged by the life of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Sarah was far from a perfect woman, and she was not married to a perfect man either. But Sarah was a strong woman of faith despite her failings. God set apart Abraham to be the father of a great nation that would be His witness to the world. But Sarah’s calling was just as important. Without her, there would be no nation, for she was to be the mother of a promised child. I can’t imagine what it was like for Sarah to hear the news from Abraham that God had called him to forever leave Ur and set out into a life of wandering, seeking the land of Promise. But she did. The Apostle Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, commends Sarah as a model for all women because she submitted to Abraham’s leadership. Peter also says, “And you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”
May we, as women, be daughters of Sarah. And by the grace of Christ, may we live lives full of faith with our eyes focused on Christ, not overcome with fear, but trusting in the One who made us distinctly female.