“Where is the manual for pastors’ wives?” a young woman asked our Parakaleo group last week.

Just hearing the question, I knew a hard story would follow. It did, and confirmed my sense that her question couldn’t be answered in a how-to book.

I recognized the desire behind her question. It’s my desire and I imagine it’s yours, too. We want an instruction guide we can follow, something we can do that ensures a pain-free life. A life that guarantees that if we obey God, we will be blessed the way we expect.  A life that promises if we follow A, B and C, then we will get D.

As pastors’ wives, our ABC’s may sound like this: support our husband (i.e., whatever he or the church needs, we do); always be hospitable (our homes are open and food is on the table 24/7); and make sure our kids love and follow God.

And IF we can do this, we expect, or even demand, that D will happen: our church will be successful, people will like us, and our children will become model citizens and mature Christians.

Fill in the blanks to your own ABC’s. What do you think is owed you (D) because you’ve done your part?

Jesus provides an answer to our dilemma. Notice in the New Testament there is no book of Leviticus, a comparable book of rules, that IF we could follow, our lives would work the right way. There isn’t one because it’s not needed. Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement for us fulfilled what the rules demanded.  Our problem isn’t that we need to live right so bad things don’t happen. Our problem is that we think that way in the first place! That line of reasoning is the foundation of other religions, not of Christianity, I’m happy to report.  Christianity is not about how good we are. Thank God!

Instead, it’s about what Christ has done for us. A daily trust in what Christ has accomplished turns our focus from what we or others are doing and redirects us to what He is doing and may yet do. Trust in Christ pries our fingers off relying on our plans to ensure success and escape suffering. Trust in Christ gives us the peace we crave when our dreams are crushed or when our plans fail. Even good plans, like planting a church or caring for our family well.

Yes, instructions help. Yes, a mentor is vital. And yes, it’s true that pastors’ wives usually get neither. But too often our desire for instruction belies a deeper belief that if we knew what to do, we could actually do it, and then we would be happy. Instead, for those in Christ, we are guaranteed so much more. He gives us, the church, the keys to the kingdom. We join a purpose much bigger than just our own lives. He pours down on us gifts to be used for kingdom purposes. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. And that’s just a few of his promises.

Are you too exhausted and discouraged even to believe this? Look to him. Don’t know what to do next? Look to him. Are you broken-hearted? Look to him.