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Serving With Joy, Year After Year

By Debra Birner

​As a married woman serving the Lord, I have the easiest position. All I have to do is follow. What I mean by that is that whatever my husband is called to do, that is my calling. God has always shown us together what path to take. We have always both had peace about our decisions. If I ever have a thought of pursuing a ministry that my husband did not have a peace about, then I know that is not the correct path to take.

​In the past two decades, we have been involved in a variety of ministries. I was not saved until I was 37 years old, so ministry was a whole new life for us! In the beginning, I was rather surprised when I would get hurt while doing a ministry. I had this idea that we weren’t going to sin against each other. I was not prepared for that experience. As time went on, I swung to the opposite end of the spectrum – I didn’t really get upset anymore. At first I thought maybe I was growing cold, but then I realized it is because I am crucified with Christ: “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” When I realized that it wasn’t about “me,” other people’s actions didn’t really hurt anymore.

​Now, instead of feeling hurt, I feel sorry for people.

Most people are either living in the joy of the Lord, praising Him, thanking Him, reveling in His Glory, OR, they are missing out. For those missing out on any aspect of the joyful Christian life, I feel sorry for them. When I get a call from someone who has chosen this world over the victorious Christian life, I just feel sorry for them. I wish they could have what I have.

​The one thing I have discovered is that this is a life full of surprises! People always surprise me. Not just the ones that go off track – the ones I thought were the heroes of the faith, that then go off in the wrong direction – but the ones that get right! How exciting it is when we see someone “get it” and the lights go on! Sometimes we just witness it, but sometimes we even get to be a part of it.

​I think the constant changes that I have been privileged to enjoy have kept the ministry fresh for me every step of the way. When I was first saved, my children were young, and we did ministries that we could all do together as a family. We ran a bus route, and my sons would run up and knock on the doors. We did a nursing home ministry, and they would run to the rooms and wheel the residents down in their wheelchairs for the service. When my husband served as a missionary to seamen, they loved boarding ships from all over the world and experiencing different cultures. Early on, my husband served as a deacon, and then later he was the Pastor of a small rural church in Wisconsin. Now that we are older, our ministries have changed and now we look after the senior saints in our church. We’re no longer experiencing the fast-paced excitement of songs and activities on the buses, but instead enjoy pleasant visits with shut-ins and other seniors who may need encouragement.

​There is no lasting joy in life outside of ministry.

I love the way ministries just evolve with our life, ever changing. New challenges, new comforts, new victories. Yet it is still the same old story – Jesus Christ never changes, but the way he impacts our lives changes with each new stage of life. Sweeter every day.


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