God sent us into the wilderness to get to know Him better.

Are you a multi-tasker? I ended up multi-tasking to the extreme. At one point, work included: being a music teacher grades K-12; privately coaching vocal students; directing a 30 voice children’s choir at church; directing a 70-voice regional choir; leading the musical programs at Christian camps; teaching a weekly women’s Sunday School Class. I even ran a class so that women could better manage their health (what a joke!). On the side, I was making and selling jewelry at craft shows and teaching others how to make jewelry. If it could be done, I did it. What a prison I was living in.


Did I mention I also loved burning leaves? Maybe burning leaves was significant because I felt my life was going up in smoke. I was overworked and unhappy. When oh when would the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow come into sight?

In the background was my family: husband and two sons. My husband was a pastor; dedicated to his calling. My sons were excellent kids, but did I really know any of them? Had I taken a second to breathe?


Then came the years of dissembling. Signs of an approaching storm already appeared on the horizon, but I ignored it. Surely, nothing that bad could ever come about for someone who loved Jesus. Right? Wrong! God ripped all of those commitments and ministries right out of our hands. In a twinkling of an eye, we were without a church home, a regular schedule, and a stable home base. Savings quickly evaporated. I obsessed about finding my husband a new job. He had sunk into deep depression, so I spent hours searching job boards and writing resumes and sending letters to countless churches on his behalf. Nothing worked.


Workaholic Jacqui was at the end of her rope. The bottom had arrived. Suddenly, there were hours, days and weeks to think….Were the prison walls beginning to fall?

Not until the end has been reached does one realize that maybe they are on the wrong path. Not until I gave up my puny efforts could God rebuild new lives. Only He could make the huge internal change in not only how we see Him, but how we see ourselves and our relationship to ministry.


Instead of viewing God as a job, a commitment, and a career, God became Father and Provider. He pried our hands off of possessions, aspirations for ministry, and plans for the future. God no longer was Someone researched in order to prepare a lesson. He is that Friend Who takes His time for visits that can be quite lengthy. He is the best prison chaplain!


What is our relationship to church and ministry today? Church is a community of believers that deeply care about each other. Technically we belong to a large local church, but in our hearts, real church plays out in small pockets: the women’s “Tribe” I am part of, the men Bill mentors, the writing friends God has blessed me with, and the assortment of Christian friends we call family.


We no longer consider “ministry” something we possess. Ministry is something God can steer us into for a season and then steer us out of another season. We don’t have a strangle hold on to what is God’s and not ours. He does with ministry and programs what He wants and He prospers what He wants to prosper. We are His tools, not His project managers.

Today, both Bill and I are investors. We invest in the lives of other believers or individuals on the cusp of believing.  We take seriously the prayer, time and effort needed to pour into the lives of God’s children. Sometimes this is well received. Other times, it can be painful. However, this is the passion God has led us to. It just took that long painful journey into the wilderness to get us here.


Are you going through a similar long painful journey? From firsthand experience, I can tell you that the pain is worth it if you let God do the rebuilding. God never wants His children to be their own “project managers”. God sent us into the wilderness to get to know Him better. Into the barrens the we went. The prisoners can be set free!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Click here to hear Jeff Parker’s testimony of being set free