I have asked Dr. Joye Baker to write a guest post this week while I’m in India. Joye serves as Adjunct Professor and Women’s Advisor in Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary. She is a good friend of mine and one of my mentors in Dallas. She taught the Role of Women in Ministry class with Dr. Sue Edwards and gave me a love for Women’s Ministry through that class. She was also my advisor at Dallas Theological Seminary. She strongly encouraged me to leave Dallas and take the job at First Evan in Memphis. I’m so glad I listened to her counsel! I know you will enjoy hearing her story of pressing on in some difficult situations. She is greatly used in women’s lives all over the world.
My husband, Don, and I were not Christians when we met and married in San Diego, California in 1971. After our wedding, we moved to his small hometown of Borger in the Texas Panhandle so that he could join his dad in the road construction business.
We continued to live our very worldly life-styles (partying, drinking, not attending church) and I spent my days as an elementary teacher. Two years into our marriage the thirteen year old daughter of some dear friends of ours died when a car hit her on her bicycle. We grieved with the family at this tragic loss, but did not know how to comfort them.
We were amazed as we witnessed their faith. They were committed Christians and immediately clung to the truth that they knew their daughter was in heaven and that they would see her again someday. This “Good News” they talked of was new news to Don and me; so out of curiosity, we decided to visit their church. After the first Sunday, we were intrigued by what the pastor was teaching from the book of Romans and continued to attend each Sunday. Three months later the Holy Spirit had softened our hearts and both Don and I prayed to receive Christ as our Savior.
I had looked for love in a lot of wrong places through my teenage and young adult life. I came to realize that the love relationship I wanted and needed was Jesus! A peace settled deep into my heart as the Holy Spirit came into my life and I rejoiced in the firm promise of heaven someday. Soon Don and I were blessed with two boys, Bryan and Timothy, three years apart, and ultimately we adopted our babysitter, Dena, at the age of 18, who was being raised by her elderly grandparents. We became very active in a small Bible-centered church where we studied and diligently applied God’s Word to our lives. I ultimately developed a women’s ministry and Don joined the elder board. God had captured our hearts and we offered all of our lives to be used by Him. We began to talk about possibly going into full-time ministry.
In 1987, I marked Psalm 73:25-26 in my Bible: Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (NASB) Through those words, God impressed upon me that I could not be certain of anything or anyone on earth.
My security needed to be in Him and Him alone. He was the only one I could be sure of. That truth motivated me to study the Bible more deeply and allowed it to transform my mind as Paul admonishes in Rom 12:2. I became convinced that God loves me, He is good, and He is sovereignly in control of all that happens in life.
Those truths burrowed deep into my mind and heart and prepared me for March 29, 1989. After eighteen years of marriage, I received news that my beloved husband had died instantly in a car accident. In the midst of my shock and disbelief, my mind was flooded with the truths I had earlier learned: God is good, He loves me, and there are no “accidents” with Him. As I chose to embrace these truths and accept my Heavenly Father’s will, the Holy Spirit ministered to my hurting, wounded heart, much as Jesus was comforted in the Garden as He reluctantly, yet willingly, yielded to His Father’s plan (Lk 22:41-43).
Two days after Don’s death, I read Psalm 27:13-14: I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take course; yes, wait for the Lord. Those words encouraged me to trust deeply in God. He faithfully provided for me and my children during that painful, difficult time through unexpected financial provisions, support of family and friends, and strength to face each new day without a father and husband in the family. God proved even more how much He loved me and would care for my every need as I continued to trust in His goodness and love.
Now, 20+ years later, I thank God that all of my children are committed Christians and I have the unexpected privilege to serve on the faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary. God has transformed my pain and loss into an amazing opportunity to share His love and truth to those training for Christian ministry. I remain confident in God’s abiding presence which allows me to enjoy an inner peace as I wait expectantly for the unfolding of His perfect will in the years ahead.