Faith journeys present us with key challenges, as Linda Miller discovered.
I met the man of my dreams at a Salvation Army youth rally and, at the age of 18, married him. My husband Steve had a secure trade as a fitter and turner, I was a stay-at-home mum, and we were absolutely content with our lot in life.
But our perfect life was about to change.
In 1992 we were devastated when my much-loved father-in-law succumbed to cancer. His loss is still felt today.
The following year my brother-in-law died from a brain tumour at the age of 30.
There was a downturn in the metal industry, and Steve was retrenched.
This was a time of immense grief and stress for our family. Every fortnight Steve would join the unemployment queue at Centrelink to lodge his dole form. Some weeks we would barely scrape by—mortgage repayments, car repayments and registration, electricity, rates, fuel, food…
It was during this most dreadful and gut-wrenching time that God began to speak to us and prepare our hearts and minds for full-time service in The Salvation Army.
The officer (minister) at our corps (church) asked Steve to consider taking on the position of bandmaster. I can tell you that Steve wrestled with his decision. Although a Salvo all his life, it wasn’t until he was 32 that Steve surrendered his life fully to God.
For the first time in our marriage we began to tithe (giving 10% of our income to the church)—on unemployment benefits. We learnt about relying on God in the everyday, and trusting him even when we had nothing. Looking back, we can see how God was so faithful and good to us.
While Steve searched for work, I gained employment, and he became the house husband with a new appreciation of my role as a stay-at-home mum.
I was offered a job with The Salvation Army Family Support Service. What an eye-opener.
For the first time in my life I was confronted by people with mental health issues, those affected by addictions, and others experiencing financial distress—so many people with so many issues. God began to speak.
In my prayer life, God was saying to me ‘Follow me. I want full surrender.’ This was a persistent calling that would not go away. I knew he meant officership (ministry)—I couldn’t escape it.
My heart was heavy and burdened. ‘This can’t be happening now,’ I thought. ‘I’m nearly 30. It must be a mistake. How would Steve react? He’s working again and he loves it. Forget it. Let it go.’ Although I tried, I couldn’t. ‘Please God, what am I going to do? I’m an emotional wreck.’
One night some weeks later, Steve and I were doing the dishes. He turned to me and said, ‘I believe God is calling me to full-time ministry as an officer.’
‘What!! Are you joking! No way!’ I burst into tears.
They were tears of joy and relief—joy that Steve too had been called by God, and relief that God’s calling upon my life had been revealed. No more hiding it. The following Sunday, Steve and I knelt together and publicly surrendered our lives and our calling to God.
I believe that when God calls you to full-time ministry, deep in your soul you know it. You can try to deny it, run away from it, ignore it, but eventually you have to claim it and own it, because you won’t know any peace until you do.
From Salvo Publishing’s Where Jesus Leads