May 28, 2013 – our 19th anniversary. Picture taken in front of the church where we were married in 1994.
There is an incredible chapter in Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life” about “wasting ourselves” for Christ. If you haven’t read this book yet, PLEASE, PLEASE read it! I believe it should be a must-read for every believer.
Nee talks about Mary who, in the eyes of Jesus’ disciples, wasted that extremely expensive perfume on Jesus in John 12:1-7. And Luke 7:36-50. Particularly, Judas (the one who betrayed Him) was upset, rebuking Mary for her act of love and telling her that she could have sold that perfume (it was worth 1 year’s wages) and given the money to the poor. Jesus, however, commended Mary for what she had done, saying:
“Leave her alone… it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you. But you will not always have Me.” John 12:7
There are times, Nee says, that God will call upon us to “waste” ourselves on Him.
The world, and even other believers, may say that what we are doing is a terrible waste of our time, talents, resources and abilities.
But there are times when God wants us to Himself. He may remove us from a place of ministry for some period of time. He may isolate us. He may incapacitate us. He may ask us to give up that which is most precious to us – as an offering to Him – without us knowing in advance if we will be able to retain the thing we hold so dear or not.
Nee describes a minister whose lifelong dream had been to have a Ph.D. He wanted to be called, “Doctor,” more than anything in the world. He wrestled with God saying, “I could bring You so much more glory and honor if I was Dr. So-and-so.” So he pursued his doctorate in divinity (I believe it was). Then, he lost the Spirit’s power in his preaching and could not understand why. He could come up with no message for his church each Sunday anymore. He went to God. God put His finger on this man’s pursuit of his degree. The man argued and argued with God, justifying himself, and kept on pursuing his doctorate until 2 days before his graduation. He knew God was telling him NOT to get that degree. So, finally, within hours of achieving his lifelong goal, he surrendered his dream to God and did not finish getting his doctorate. God was pleased. His ministry was later greatly blessed. God showed this precious man that He wanted the glory, and that this minister having a doctorate would bring too much glory to the man instead of to God in his life.
Sometimes the world around us, and even our family and Christian friends, may say that we are wasting ourselves when we obey Him when He calls us to:
- spend much more time with Him in Bible reading, study and prayer than time in ministry
- stay home with our children or work just part time so that we can be with our children more to bless them, love them, nurture them and raise them to love and know God and His Word
- prepare to be a housewife instead of going to college
- be friendly to those who are socially awkward or outcasts
- minister to the homeless, orphans, the poor and oppressed
- sell all we have and follow our husbands to become missionaries in another state or country
- give up a lucrative career to care for our husbands, our children, an ill family member, the poor or to do ministry
- put our husbands and children ahead of ministry
- spend less time at church so that our husbands and children do not feel neglected by us
- remove some activities from our plate or our children’s schedule
- take an unglamorous, low paying job, being content in obscurity
- take an unglamorous, behind the scenes position of ministry in the church. being content in obscurity
- cooperate joyfully with our husbands if they ask us to sell our home and our possessions and radically downsize to be able to give more to those in need and to be able to spend more time in ministry
- submit joyfully to an unbelieving husband in order to seek to influence him for Christ
- treat my unloving husband with honor even if he never changes
- not have the same priorities as the world (sports, entertainment, romance, money, beauty, popularity, etc…) but to seek Him first and to truly desire to obey His Word even if we seem weird
- dress modestly instead of showing off our bodies to men who are not our husbands
- drive an old car instead of going into debt to have a new one
- not give our kids smart phones even though “everyone else has one” if we and our husbands believe that is what is best for our children
- act with integrity at work even when no one else does
- suffer with a prolonged illness as He uses that time to draw us to Himself and to refine us
- submit to our husbands’ leadership even when we don’t know how things are going to work out and our friends/family accuse us of having been “brain washed” or “joining a cult”
(These are just examples. They will not each apply to every wife and some things may apply at certain times but not other times in our lives. We must carefully hear what God is whispering to each of us individually at that time. He does not call each person to the same assignments He gives to others.)
WASTING OURSELVES ON GOD
God often kept His apostles in prison for long periods of time. That may have seemed like a waste to some. But we would not have most of the New Testament were it not for those times. When Paul first came to Christ, He spent 3 years by himself studying and learning and drawing near to Jesus. That was a time of training that God used to equip and prepare him for his ministry. Think of the story of Joseph in Exodus. God gave him two dreams to show him that he would rule over his brothers and parents when he was 17 years old. And then Joseph unfairly suffered for 14 years as either a slave or a prisoner. And yet, God had him in the exact place He wanted Joseph to be in order to become the 2nd in command to Pharaoh when the time was right. Moses spent 40 years in Egypt as the Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, then 40 years hiding in the desert before God called him to lead His people out of Egypt. What seems at first to us like a waste of Moses’ life was actually very practical preparation for the job God had for Moses to do.
I don’t know what treasure God may call each of us to give up. In some ways, this is a daily thing of dying to self. I don’t know how much time God may set aside in our lives to have us all to Himself. But I do pray that we might each be ready to give all that we have to Christ even if He is the only one who benefits. Some women think, “If I obey God, and it doesn’t result in me getting what I want (a baby, more money, a bigger house, a husband), I am wasting my time!” But, if we are walking in obedience to Jesus, and we are lavishing ourselves on Him – that is NEVER a waste of our time or effort! He is WORTHY!!!!!!!! As we give Him everything – He is pleased. We have an “Audience of One.” God’s opinion is the only one that matters. His approval is all we must seek.
What thing is there that you are holding back from God in your life? What is it about which you say, “You can have everything in my life, Jesus, but not this”? I beg you to be willing to surrender control of that thing to Jesus and to be completely submitted to Jesus as LORD of every single thing in your life. You cannot begin to grow powerfully in Him until you are willing to do this. We must ALL die to ourselves and we must ALL be willing to lose our lives and everything we have in order to have Jesus.
WASTING OURSELVES ON OUR HUSBANDS:
There are often parallels between our submission, love, reverence for and devotion to Christ and our submission, love, respect for and devotion to our husbands. I think that is so fascinating!
There have absolutely been times when I thought to myself, “Greg is just watching TV. He doesn’t seem to care if I am here or not. He hasn’t asked me to stay with him. I could be spending more time ministering to wives online rather than ‘wasting my time here’ watching some TV show I don’t care anything about.”
But this summer when I had my blogging/social media break for a month – God revealed to me that I need to be beside my husband at night even if he is “just watching TV” and even if he is not having a big conversation every moment. Yes, there are great needs in the world and there are always women who will desire counsel and prayer. Those things are very important. But, even though my husband may never actually say, “I want you here with me in the evenings,” that is my place. He was able to better articulate this to me during my blogging break than ever before. When I make myself available to him, it gives him the opportunity to share things with me if he wants to. We have greater opportunities for intimacy on every level. Every night may not be a big deep discussion. Every night may not be physical intimacy. That is ok. By my being there and making my husband my greatest human priority after the children go to bed, I bless him. If I am blessing my husband just by being in the room with him in the evenings, that is not a waste of my time. Even if he doesn’t really talk about it much. This makes our marriage much stronger. I am ministering powerfully to my husband just by sitting with him and cuddling with him while he watches TV.
Greg actually told me this past week as he had his arm around me, smiled and patted my hip,
“I really like you being right here.”
Some of you may hear words like that every single day. Greg doesn’t make comments like that very often. Maybe 1-2 times per year. He doesn’t use adjectives like “really” and he doesn’t straight out say “I like” anything or verbally gush over things. Usually, if he likes something, he will say something like, “That wouldn’t bother me.” Or “I assume that would be ok.” So, I was floored. This was a VERY strong statement coming from him.
I am so thankful that I listened when God clearly told me in June to slow way down and focus more on Greg, our children and on Him.
In addition to making myself much more available to Greg in the evenings, I have found that if I stay in bed a little longer in the mornings, an extra 30 minutes, instead of rushing to go have my quiet time or answer comments as soon as I wake up, we have greater opportunities to connect on every level in the mornings, too. (Of course, this doesn’t work if I have to get ready for work, also.)
I try to ask Greg about once per week,
- “What can I do for you this week?”
- “How can I bless you?”
- “What would you like me to stop doing?”
- “What would you like me to start doing?”
I am a DOER. I like to DO STUFF. I feel productive and purposeful when I am DOING. I like moving and getting things done. I don’t like sitting still and “going nowhere”!
Interestingly, what Greg almost always says when I ask him how I can bless him is:
- Just have fun!
- Enjoy the kids.
These things do not come naturally to me. I’m pretty awful at relaxing. I tend to want to say, “No, I mean, what actual THING can I DO for you that would really bless you?”
But now I am beginning to understand, when I relax and enjoy him and the kids, that DOES bless him. Greatly. It is dawning on me more and more just how important I am to this man I love and respect so much and that there are many ways he appreciates me ministering to him that he may not articulate with words, but that are extremely important to him and to our marriage.
And, imagine this… maybe this is more of what God wants from me in my walk with Him, too?
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
What does your husband ask you to do that you may tend to brush off or think of as being “unimportant” or “a waste” of your time? I’d love for you to share!
How can we “waste” ourselves in a beautiful way on God and on our husbands – or maybe a better term would be – LAVISH?
What are some ways you would like to see your wives lavish themselves on you that may seem “wasteful” to others but would greatly bless you and your marriage? We’d love to hear from the men on this.