Many years ago when my husband, Jim, and I were newly married and living in Washington state, we worked in separate divisions of the same company, he as a computer analyst, and me as a field forester who spent her days in the woods. Then one day came the announcement that the computer department was going to relocate to the company’s central office headquarters in Dallas, and Jim was asked to make the move. Excited as he was about the new opportunities that awaited him there, he realized that the job possibilities for foresters in that busy metropolis were slim at best. Our company had no land holdings in the area, hence no need for timber management professionals. Jim told those in charge of the relocation that he could not transfer unless they provided a job for his wife in the company office, as well. We were a package deal. So, because they needed Jim’s computer ability and management experience, I soon found myself behind a desk in a nice office, learning how all the field data that I used to spend my days collecting fit into the company’s forestry computer models. While it was nothing I’d ever done before, the work was interesting and good experience for whatever would come next for me in my career.
In the middle of our four-year stay in Dallas, Jim switched jobs and went to work for another paper company in the area. Soon came the news that he was again to be transferred, this time to Ohio. Once again he instituted the “package deal” concept in his employment negotiations, insisting that a job would have to be provided for his wife, as well, before he could agree to relocate. Amazingly, the company complied and I soon found myself employed as a computer programmer of forestry systems.
Gratified as I was by my new employer’s generosity, there was yet one huge problem in this scenario, that being my complete lack of training in computer science! My once programming class in college was little help as it wasn’t even a computer language the company was using. It was one thing to plug numbers into a computer model that was already written, as I did in Dallas, and another thing entirely to write the computer program behind the model. I felt absolutely lost at sea and managed to keep the job only with the help of a crash course in programming, fervent prayer, and a total reliance on God to supply the wisdom I lacked. Again and again He came through for me until I was eventually laid off when the economy forced widespread cutbacks in the paper industry.
Lately the enemy’s been reminding me of the days when I was part of a package deal in Jim’s job situations, highlighting the fact that I brought little to lay on the table myself in those scenarios, and was hired only so that the companies involved could acquire my husband’s computer expertise. What the devil mocks in my job situations he likewise scorns in my ministry efforts for the Lord, whispering that I only have the opportunities to serve that I do because I’m a “package deal” with my more spiritually effective husband.
I’m not alone in receiving his accusations. In recent years I’ve met many spouses in ministry teams who, while never verbalizing their thoughts, have believed him when he’s intimated that they hold the positions they do solely on the basis of who they are yoked to in marriage. We feel unqualified, unappreciated, and , worse yet, unnecessary to the work of the Lord.
And we couldn’t be more wrong. God wonders why we listen to such lies, when He’s written in His Word repeatedly that we all have received a measure of faith, (Romans 12:3), that we all have gifts and callings (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:7), and that in the latter days He will pour His spirit out on all flesh (Joel 2:28). Each of us has a work that we were specifically created and anointed to do, and God will hold us personally accountable if we allow the devil’s lies to keep us inactive and unfruitful.
Getting what you need on the basis of somebody else’s qualifications is not always a bad thing. Just as I found myself without the resources I needed to accomplish the programming tasks I was assigned, I’m even more unqualified to work my way into Heaven. I simply haven’t got the sinless life and absolute purity that God requires in His Word. Once again the solution to my predicament is found in prayer. Jesus comes alongside me in response to my request for help and provides what I cannot - a perfect sacrifice in payment for my sins. And He makes me a promise… that someday when we stand together at Heaven’s Gate, the door will be opened and a welcome provided… only because He smiles with His arm around me and proclaims, “We’re a package deal.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
(Ephesians 2:8,9 NKJV)
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