by Allison Martin
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
So much has changed in my little world since the last time I wrote for Pursuing Virtue! On June 3, my husband and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world. In our eyes, Reagan McKinlea Martin is perfect in every way. Our world turned upside down in the best sense of the phrase. She’s everything we prayed for, and so much more. This new chapter in our lives has its challenges to be sure, but the beautiful moments far outweigh the struggles.
Make no mistake though, there are struggles. As with every transition in life, there is an adjustment period. It is the gray area between the way things used to be, and the way they are now. I used to be a night owl. And I guess I still am, until 9 pm or so. (Sleep jumped way ahead of Instagram and leisure reading on my priority list.) As I write this, it’s sometime after midnight, and I’m doing some reevaluation.
Ministry is all I’ve known my entire married life. The moment I said “I do”, I was a preacher’s wife. I knew ministry to be a packed schedule, and being some of the first to arrive and last to leave. Ministry used to be work days and mopping floors, among a lot of other things. I loved being involved and the feeling of making a difference. I loved being busy working for the Kingdom. And while I still love that feeling, ministry for me changed overnight. It’s still work days and being involved whenever possible. But it’s also Bible story books and prayers before bed. It’s having devotions before she’s old enough to remember it and modeling God’s love before she’s old enough to understand it.
Ministry is working toward our family being what God intended it to be.
This season of my life is teaching me what has been true all along- ministry is about having the heart of a servant, so others can see the heart of Christ. That can happen in a hospital, a school, and yes- even a nursery in the middle of the night. My husband is a preacher, and I fully appreciate the value of pulpit ministry. But limiting ministry to what happens in a church falls so short of what it really is.
Ministry is also the labor of a foster parent who sacrifices the life they could have, to make someone else’s life better.
It’s also the nurse with a heart to help the hurting, whispering a prayer for her patient when most people are asleep.
And the teacher who wants to make a difference, tossing and turning in bed, trying to figure out how to help that one.
And the one who works without recognition or appreciation to make that church bus run or that youth camp possible.
And the mom or dad who’s awake for the third time that night, wondering if they’ll ever sleep again. Because one day, that baby will grow up and hear of the love of Jesus. And His love, though unmatched, will sound familiar. The unmerited, unconditional love of Christ will feel much like the love that remained constant through sleepless nights, terrible twos, and the struggles of growing up.
His love will feel like home.
I’ve found myself needing reminded that I’m not on the sidelines. Really, I’m more involved in ministry than I’ve ever been. Maybe you are too. Even if today just seems like the same, exhausting things as yesterday. It may not be applauded or awarded, but heaven is taking note of every sacrifice you make. Even at midnight.