I said this recently in one of the talks I've done this term. I was speaking to a group of women who are married to guys training at a Bible college in Sydney. I was speaking about what it's like to be married to someone doing parachurch work (ie. full-time Christian work that isn't in a church context). My husband has worked in both a church role and now with uni students so it was interesting to reflect on the differences.
One of the big concerns for families going into parachurch jobs is that quite a number of them (including my husband's job) involve raising funds to support your role. It also means that you will get a lower income than if you had a church based job.
While I'd really hope that money wasn't a reason to deter people from considering this type of work, let's be honest, it can be. Especially when the money doesn't always come easily.
I always said that we'd never do a fundraising job, yet 8 years later, here we are. One of my fears has been that we don't own our own home, and most likely never will in the city. We'll probably retire to something quite small using up our superannuation savings.
And then we'll potentially be poor old people. No overseas trips. No holiday house by the coast. No extra space for family to stay with us. It can be confronting to consider this, when many of our peers from university have almost paid off their first homes and are well and truly on their way to happy, rich retirements. The choices we made in our 20's, are now starting to look more different than ever to those of our peers.
So how do I feel about this as the confronting reality starts to settle? I realised recently in thinking through this that I truly believe that God will provide a roof over our heads (might be in a caravan) and that my retirement isn't about me having overseas trips. I have always aimed to make decisions that were about people and relationships rather than things and lifestyle. I'd say that I think my life is about living to serve others by being in relationship with them and showing Jesus' love to them. Will I run out of people to meet and serve in my old age? Will there be no one in that caravan park who will need a friend?
I have found this freeing. It's freeing to spend the now, when I have energy and health, serving those around me. I don't need to use up that precious energy and time getting worried about the future. He will provide and there will be good things for me to do.