Recently my wife, Beth, left town for a few days to visit our sons in the Chicago area and to attend a bridal shower for our soon-to-be daughter-in-law Alyssa. I had a couple of local commitments, and so I agreed to take care of the home front while she was gone. I thought to myself, “This won’t be that hard. I’ll just do all the things she normally does, plus my stuff. There should be plenty of time left over to relax as well.”
How wrong I was. After a few days of preparing my own meals, doing the laundry, tending to the dog, and a dozen other surprisingly time-consuming duties, I realized the lawn needed mowing. Now before you judge me, let me point out that my wife says she likes to mow the lawn. She loves being outside, considers it good exercise, says it gives her a sense of accomplishment, and even uses it as prayer time. So I let her mow.
Our missionaries and staff couldn’t do what we do without the partnership of IBSA churches and the generous gifts of Illinois Baptists, especially through the Mission Illinois Offering.
Beth chose to be absent, however, on one of the hottest and most humid Saturdays of the summer. On top of that, our self-propelling mower recently stopped self-propelling. Its handle is held together by little plastic ties. And at least two of its wheels wobble badly. As I forced it up the hills and around the curves of our yard, I seemed to remember Beth saying something about perhaps needing a new one.
During the many times I stopped to wipe the perspiration off my brow and out of my eyes, I found myself thinking how much I missed not just my wife, but my life partner. I pictured trying to do both of our jobs all the time, plus parenting and serving in the church, and all the other responsibilities that we share. And I realized again that I can only do what I do because of what she does.
The following Sunday I was scheduled to speak at one of our state’s most generous missions-giving churches, though they are far from the largest. In 2015, this faithful church gave by far the state’s largest Mission Illinois Offering.
They are between pastors right now, and I had already planned to try and encourage them from Philippians 1, where Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
As I introduced the text, I found myself telling them about the unsustainable few days I had just spent without my wife. I told them those days had really made me appreciate the value of a good partner. And then I thanked them sincerely, from my heart, for their partnership in the gospel, not just this year, but for so many years.
Without the partnership of local IBSA churches, we could not have planted 23 new congregations last year, or delivered 20,000 trainings to pastors and church leaders, or mobilized more than 24,000 missions volunteers.
Across the state this month, hundreds of IBSA churches will receive the Mission Illinois Offering, focused on reaching more than 8 million lost people here in our state. Some offerings will total a few hundred dollars, and some several thousand. But together, they help form a powerful partnership in the gospel that gives my prayers joy as well.
Beth is back, and this week we bought a new lawnmower. It’s one small way I can thank my wife for being a great partner. Our missionaries and staff couldn’t do what we do without the partnership of IBSA churches and the generous gifts of Illinois Baptists, especially through the Mission Illinois Offering. Thanks for being great partners.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.