2: A Promise He Could Not Break

2: A Promise He Could Not Break

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives

A Promise He Could Not Break

By Pat Stockett Johnston

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

~Proverbs 19:21

When my husband Gordon and I began to date in college, I already knew he felt God wanted him to pastor a church. I was okay with that except for one thing: I didn’t want him to accept the pastorate of a church outside California because I wanted to live in the same state as my parents and five brothers and sisters. He promised me that would be no problem.

His first two church assignments were within an hour of my parents’ home. I found that to be perfect! I happily taught first and second grade at neighboring schools during those first four years. Then one day, the unexpected happened.

We both were delegates to our church’s missions convention, so I took that day off school and left our two-year-old daughter, Beverly, in the church nursery during the meetings.

The afternoon program opened with the three young daughters of the two missionary speakers singing a song in Haitian Creole. I admired their parents for being willing to raise those darling girls in Haiti.

Suddenly, during their song, I heard the voice of God speaking to me. “I want your children to sing in a foreign language.”

Up to that time, I had had no desire to move to another country and serve as a missionary. But I quickly realized my children would not be singing in any language but English if we stayed in the States. I sat in a daze for a few moments, knowing God was waiting for my response. Then I recognized that what God wanted for my children, I also wanted for them. I whispered a soft “yes” and immediately felt peace flood over me.

During the middle of the evening meeting, I jabbed Gordon in the ribs (he insists it hurt!) and asked, “Have you ever thought about being a missionary?”

To my great surprise, he whispered, “God called me at noon! Has He called you?”

“Yes, while the missionary girls sang.”

After the service, Gordon explained that God had given him a missionary call during lunch. “I told God no. I could not be a missionary because I had promised you I wouldn’t leave California, and I could not break that promise! When you told me about your call, I realized I could now say yes to God!”

My respect and admiration for my husband’s faithfulness to his promise grew. And my faith in God helped me release him from that promise and allowed us a thirty-four-year missionary career in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea. We can trust God when we are faithful to His purposes in our lives.

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