[By Ashley Baird]
“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.”
Life can be like the ocean. Sometimes it’s peaceful and calm, and other times it is full of turbulent waves that come crashing against us.
It’s hard for us to share struggles and trials that go on during the stormy seasons of our life. Especially in the days we live in, where even in the church there is an expectation that we are supposed to have everything together, and that life is blissful and happy all the time. But the truth is, it’s not…and we’re being dishonest with the world and ourselves when we pretend it is. In fact, those of us in Christ are promised trials, but we are also promised that He will not leave us nor forsake us. It’s through these trials that we can be beacons of God’s grace and glory to this lost world and the believers around us.
I’ve struggled and prayed about whether I should write or say anything, but friends and family keep messaging and texting asking how things are going or asking if something is wrong, so I know it’s time.
Timothy and I have walked through many turbulent waves of life throughout our almost 9 years of marriage, but nothing quite like what we are traveling right now. There is grief, many questions, and many opportunities to trust God.
Two months ago, our family embarked on a long prayed-for Journey. We were so excited to see the Lord working! Timothy was being called to pastor a church, we were moving to a new town, making new friends, and so ready and excited to begin serving.
Then, several weeks into our ministry there, we were asked to leave.
This request was not for anything Immoral, or even Unbiblical, but because of a preference.
Timothy’s conviction is that the Pulpit is used to carefully and clearly explain the Word of God, applying it to the Church, and exhorting them to Love and Obey Christ as a response. He does this by taking a passage of Scripture, and making the point of the message whatever the point of that passage is. That is what preaching the Word of God is, and that was the main issue that was brought against us.
Another was the fact that we believe in the Doctrines of Grace. We shared our beliefs about this in our meetings before we came, and were told it was fine since any mention of them would be carefully explained as he preached the Word. We assured them we would not be promoting a “label” as labels are divisive. But after some time went by some members decided they were not okay with this, in spite of the fact that nothing about the doctrines of grace had come up in any of Timothy’s teaching. (If you don’t know what I mean by the “Doctrines of Grace”, I put a link in the comments.)
Being asked to resign was something we needed to consider carefully, so we took some time to really pray and think things through. We sought counsel from other pastors and our dads, who are both pastors, as well. We prayed and desperately asked the Lord for wisdom. In the end, for the sake of preserving the unity of the church, we felt the best thing would be for Timothy to resign.
Many in our new church were so warm and friendly, and welcomed us with open arms, not aware of what was happening. We are so grateful for their friendship, support and prayers during this time.
The last few weeks have really been difficult. We’ve grieved in so many ways; the waves of emotions randomly hitting. One day I think I’m fine, but the next day I’m hit with a flood of tears. Moving is exhausting and having to plan another move after just a few weeks of starting to unpack is even harder. Trying to do school while unpacking and then having to repack is hard. Living in a town where you know you are not wanted is hard. Having to say goodbye to precious new friends is even harder!
Yet through all of this, God is Good.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We serve a big God who designs any trial we face in this world for His Glory and for our good.
Even through the tears, the pain and the questions, His Peace has been our strength.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 ESV
John Piper said it so well, “Sooner or later, every sorrow, every pain, every disappointment, and every loss will work together for good.” (See Romans 8:28)
So even though we may not understand right now, we trust Him that it is for His glory and for our good.
Please keep this church in your prayers. That the Lord would make Himself known there in a very real way. That Christ and his word would be exalted above all.
Please keep our family in your prayers.
For healing for our hearts, health and strength as we prepare for another move, and provision during these next few weeks. For protection over our children’s hearts from all the life changes over the last few months as well as what’s to come. For a new job, (at this point Timothy has been looking for any type of job) , and we also need a new place to live in the next 5 weeks. Please pray for wisdom as we are seeking the Lord on what the next step is for our family.
We are so grateful for all the support and prayers of our family and many friends during this time. We hope and pray that many are encouraged as they hear of the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives and that it will cause you to seek Him more in your daily life. Through the Joys of life and through the struggles. For He is worthy.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” 2 Cor 4:16 & 17
“O Lord, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness”
God is good.
He has been good to me every day of my life. Even in my darkest hours, He has been good. By His mercy, I was raised in a godly, loving home; the son of a Baptist preacher. I was brought to faith in Christ as a young man and have grown in my knowledge of Him ever since. Over the years, my walk with Him has often been one step forward, three steps back, but He has remained faithful, even when I have not. By grace, I have made significant strides forward in my spiritual maturity since early 2010.
Though I knew Christ, and was disgusted with my sin, I spent much of my high school and college days (the first time around) in gross rebellion against God. I lived the life of a hedonist. I gave myself to partying and drugs, and all manner of immorality. But God, in His mercy, had decreed from eternity past that I would be blameless before Him in Christ, and that He would conform me to the image of His Son in this present life. The good work that the Holy Spirit did in my heart at my conversion as a young man saw to it that I was never satisfied in my sin. I did not have the strength to sustain my deliberately wicked lifestyle. I indulged my lusts with a smile on my face, but vomit in my soul.
After being arrested for the second time, I left my college in Levelland Texas and moved back in with my Mom and Dad, who had moved back to our home state, Oklahoma. I began to pray a prayer that I had often repeated, but this time with a new fervor. I prayed that God would grant me repentance—a broken heart over my sin—and that He would reorient my heart to walk in paths of obedience.
On February 14, 2010, God answered that prayer. By grace, my eyes had been opened in an entirely new way to see the horrific folly and disgusting impudence of living to please my flesh. What ungratefulness! What Insanity, that I would choose to live in rebellion against the God of the universe—the God of all goodness and grace—living as though this world is all there is, and there is no God to whom we must give an account. I was shattered. I spent the better part of the next month in tears. There is no telling how much weight I lost from fasting and mourning. I knew one thing for certain—I hated sin with all my heart and loved the Savior that had died to set me free from it with the same. I was resolved to fear only God and not man, and to pluck out any eye, or cut off any of hand that would dare give itself to sin again. I was daily engaged in a ruthless repentance.
This began a time of surrendering everything about myself to God. With that came a joyous and sober resolve to pursue the preaching ministry that I had always sensed God calling me to. I began to study. God revealed Himself more and more clearly every day. My life was one of marveling over the power and grace and love and majesty of Christ. He had become my greatest treasure! One of the areas of my life that I was deliberately and prayerfully and Scripturally subjecting to Jesus was the whole realm of my current and possible future relationship to the opposite sex.
I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, but I did have a crush on a friend and I was trying to figure out how to pursue her. It was made clear to me that the feelings weren’t mutual, and overall I was content with that. After all, I was consciously entrusting myself to a sovereign God! One day I was prayerfully reading 1 Corinthians 7, the chapter in which Paul addresses the gift of singleness. He states that it’s a good thing for a man to remain single and devote himself to serving the Lord, if God has so gifted him. I began to pray and try to discern if this is was the life the Lord was calling me to. Would He have me forsake the pursuit of a woman to share my life with, and give myself completely to seeking His pleasure? God enlightened my reason with His gentle wisdom to see that such a proposition was silly! The passage says that this privilege of an unmarried life comes in the form of a gift of singleness—a gift that I clearly do not possess.
In that moment, God began to stir my heart with faith-fueled reason. I deduced that since God has not called me to be single, and His works were finished from the foundation of the world, that means He must have a wife that He intends to be mine! So, convinced of this, I prayed, “Father, I ask you to send me my wife!” I was overcome with a sense of affirmation to this request, and in excitement, I answered, “When do I get to meet her?” The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “You’ll meet her Thursday.” I was numb with excitement. With a heart full of faith, I stood up, cherishing my God and as confident that I was meeting my wife on Thursday as if the ring were already on her finger, though I didn’t even know her name!
It was Tuesday. I was meeting my wife in just two days. My mind was racing. A Methodist girl’s choir was performing in our small town on Thursday and we had agreed to host some of them in our home. I thought for sure it was going to be one of them. But wait, maybe I would meet her while out delivering a pizza Thursday night, after all, I was scheduled to work that night. The truth is, I didn’t know who or where or how or at what time it was going to happen; I just knew I was meeting her that Thursday!
So Thursday came around. That morning my Dad and I decided to make a trip to Atwoods, a farm supply store in a neighboring town, to get a new pair of work jeans. While I was walking through the store, a beautiful young lady and her brother, whom I had never met, came right up to us and greeted my Dad. The impression in my heart was unmistakeable. This was my wife. It was every bit as awkward as you might imagine! How would you have felt, being a man meeting a woman for the first time, convinced to the core of your soul that she is your future wife!? I didn’t say much.
It turns out, this was actually a girl that my sister had been telling me about. Little did I know, Torie had been praying that I would meet and marry a woman “just like Ashley”. Ashley is a godly woman from a godly family. She’s the kind of woman that loves to listen to John Piper sermons. Her family is the kind of family that worships together in their living room 6 or 7 days a week. She’s the kind of woman whose highest aspiration is to be in a loving, submissive, god-glorifying relationship with her husband and raise up godly children in the fear and admonition of the Lord—for no other reason than that’s what God, in His wisdom, says is good. She’s a biblical woman, and her worth truly is far above rubies! I said it before, and I’ll say it again, God is good!
But that’s not all!
Like I said, Torie, my sister, knew Ashley. They’re good friends and often spent time at each others’ houses talking about organic food and health supplements and stuff. It just so happens that Torie does not possess the gift of secret-keeping. I had of course told her soon after I met Ashley what the Lord had shown me, and Torie was thrilled. Apparently too thrilled to keep it in! Ashley was visiting her house one day and Torie said, “I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say anything or not, but the Lord told my brother He was going to meet his future wife and that day you guys met He said you were her!” Ashley says she was (understandably) shocked! Being raised in a family that is purposing to pursue courtship as their children become interested in members of the opposite sex, and having a godly, submissive heart toward her father, her first thought was “what am I going to tell my parents!?!”
As she was leaving Torie’s house that day, the Lord made her just as certain that she was to marry me as I was that I was to marry her. I had been introduced to Ashley as Tim. But a thought had occurred to her, and she had to find out my whole name. She texted Torie and asked, “what is your brother’s full name?” Torie responded, “Timothy Paul Baird.”
Why was that significant for her? When Ashley was about 12 years old, her father began to share his plan for courtship with her. She was not going to have boyfriends in the same way her other friends were. In love, Ashley’s father was resolved to protect her physical and emotional purity through the means of supervised dating. She wanted to submit to her father’s leadership in this, yet it was a struggle seeing the fun her peers were having in their relationships. So she made it a matter of serious prayer. She asked the Lord to be the fulfillment of all of her desires until the day when He would bring her her husband. “But”, she prayed, “may I at least know my husband’s name?” God spoke to her heart and told her, “His name is Timothy.” By the time Ashley read my sister’s response to her question about my full name, Ashley had been praying for me by name for 7 years. When she read that my name was Timothy after hearing what my sister had said, the Lord moved in her heart, saying, “This is your husband”. We were both convinced. God is good!
I didn’t really know the first thing about courtship. At the counsel of my father, I contacted Ashley’s father and asked him to come have lunch with my Dad and I. I told him what had happened and asked him what his guidelines would be if a man wanted to get to know his daughter. Our families began to get together for fellowship and worship at each others’ houses so that we could evaluate the possibility of a courtship. Her Dad wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy, and that I was theologically sound, etc. Those were some of the best days of my life! After a few months at that stage, her Dad announced an official courtship. Ashley and I loved one another immediately and would have gotten married at any point during the process. In fact, she had her dress picked out and I had already bought the ring before we even began the official courtship! A few months into the courtship I asked for her hand in marriage and 7 years after God told Ashley my name, 7 months after we met, and 7 weeks after I proposed, we were married!
My wife is a gift from God that grows sweeter every day. Every time I look at her I’m made more a debtor to the grace that condescended to reconcile a rebellious sinner like myself to such a great and wondrous and sovereign God as the One that gave me my wife. God is good!