In 2009 after years of waiting and thousands of dollars invested, we were finally pregnant with our miracle baby. I read all the books and articles and doctor’s pages in every single corner of the internet during those years of infertility. I could quote statistics about hormone levels and sperm counts like doctor appointment preparation was my job.
Our entire lives revolved around blood draws and dates with The Wand and injections for so long so when we were given the gift of a pregnancy, I wanted off the research bus.
Off the bus as in I SHUT IT DOWN.
The Baby Center weekly emails updating us on the size of the baby was truly the only information I read about pregnancy and growing babies. No, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, no Baby Wise, no Baby Whisperer. Nothing on feeding or schedules or deliveries or recovery. Zippo.
I told myself I was doing that because I wanted to enjoy each day just as it was. Soak up the miracle of the moment. Not be in a rush to get through it. Simply rest in the pregnancy we had prayed for all those years.
But the truth was, I was scared. I didn’t want to know what was coming next. Not next week, not the next trimester, not the first weeks of a newborn’s life. I didn’t want to prepare myself for something that might not happen yet.
By God’s grace, we made it the full 40 weeks, a healthy momma and a healthy baby. The night before our scheduled c-section, I was a blubbering mess. Terrified. Everything was about to change in our lives. From the moment our baby girl would take her first breath, the air in our world would never feel the same as it did before her arrival.
And I was absolutely and completely unprepared.
The Ministry of Patience…
A great deal of our life is invested in preparation. The childhood school years my children are convinced will last FOR FOREVER. College and graduate school and for especially crazy people like my husband, a doctorate degree. Then there’s the time spent practicing what you study. Maybe that’s in the office or in the operating room or on the basketball court. We train for marathons and practice for wind symphony concerts and rehearse our part in the play in front of our mirrors for hours.
Everything worth doing in life takes a great deal of preparation and patience.
Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, had both traits in spades.
Heber was a member of the Kenite tribe, descendants of Moses’ in-laws. Heber charted his own path in life choosing to break away from the tribe of his ancestors in favor of an alliance with Jabin, King of Canaan, and built his home “by the great tree” on Canaanite land.
To be blunt about it, Heber was a traitor.
Jael was married to an Israelite who chose to leave his people, create a partnership with his enemies, and build himself a comfy little life under a big shade tree on the land of his enemies.
For the love.
I have to wonder if Jael married Heber before he made the foolish decision to pick comfort with his enemies over righteousness with his God. I imagine she did not. She thought she was getting a Godly man in her husband but instead, got an enemy.
I wonder too if she had prayed for God to redeem their life, restore them to their own people, break the alliance her husband made with their enemy. And I wonder as she pleaded with God, continuing to serve her husband, if she ever felt she was waiting for THE moment when God answered her prayers.
All the while, she patiently waited and prepared.
The Ministry of Tent Building…
Following his defeat in battle against Deborah, Barak, and the Israeli army, Sisera, the Canaanite army general who’d killed and raped hundreds of Israelite women, fled on foot to Heber’s home. He set off walking straight towards that tent underneath the shade of the big tree.
Jael knew how to build a tent. She’d likely done it so much it was second nature. Tent stakes were always close at hand. Tools out on the table just in case. Years of practice to drive a tent stake into the ground efficiently and precisely.
Jael saw Sisera coming and must have thought, “I am prepared for this moment, Lord. Thank you for delivering him to me.” She wasn’t scared or unnerved or shaken. She was prepared. And patient
Jael invited him in so sweetly. She gave him warm milk when he only asked for water, covered him up with a blanket and, even though scripture doesn’t say this, I like to think she started humming him a little lullaby, and let him fall asleep.
Just like he was a baby.
I can see her, standing by the door, just as he’d told her to do, keeping watch and humming. Waiting patiently for her moment.
Women know when people are in a deep sleep. They’ve spent hours with their babies patiently listening for that slow, patterned, deep breathing. Jael knew Sisera was exhausted from battle so she listened and waited for him to fall deep asleep.
Once that deep sleep hit, she turned towards him (humming still, I think), pulled a tent stake out of her pocket, and the hammer from the table. She knelt down over him and with the skill only years of preparation could provide, she drove that tent stake straight down inside his temple.
The greatest enemy of Isreal dead under her feet.
Our Ministry of Preparation…
Not sure I’ll ever kill an enemy of God’s people. Gracious, I hope not. But I know what it’s like to not be prepared and I pray I never have to relearn that lesson. Instead, I hope when I look out over my life and I see God’s calling, God’s freedom, God’s ministry walking right up to me, I am prepared to run my race.
Praying, fasting, tithing, studying God’s word, living in community with God’s church, seeking first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. It’s all preparation.
If Jael can defeat the celebrated and successful army general of her enemies with warm milk, a blanket, and a tent stake, we can love our neighbors, care for widows and orphans, and give to those in need with the money we earn, the time we offer, and the resources we bring.
Before Jael even saw Sisera coming her way, the Lord had already won the battle.
“Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands.” ~Judges 4:14 (NIV)
The same is true for you and your ministry.
God has already given us each every tool we need to finish the tasks He called us to do.
The ministry of your career, your family, your neighborhood. That dream of ministry you’re holding on to, turning it over and over and over in your hands. Ministering to your kids’ friends, your school, the co-worker who drives you bonkers. The ministry of your hobby, that weekend game of golf, your love of baking.
All of these places and people and purposes intentionally put in your life as part of your ministry.
We simply need to accept them as the preparation God laid out for us and then ask Him to use it.
How has God been preparing you for ministry?