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Equal, But Different

I enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage with my husband, Bill Lay, and experienced many memorable moments, life lessons, and seasons of marriage. When Bill and I married, he thought that I was the very best thing that had happened in his life because he was from a family that had been broken. After we had been married twenty years, he no longer felt this way and no longer wanted to be married to me. Even though we were going to church, working in the church, and raising four sons, we found ourselves going in separate directions.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."--Hosea 4:6

I was raised in a Christian home with a large family. Bill was a Christian, but he was from a very small family. The root problem in all relationships is selfishness. We were complete opposites, with no marriage counseling, and our marriage was in trouble. We had assumed that we would live happily ever after.

After twenty years of marriage, we were bankrupt in every area of our lives. Our marriage was gone, our finances were gone, my husband's health was broken, and our sons were in rebellion. The only good was that both of us had given our hearts to Jesus. We really wanted to serve Him, but we were perishing for lack of knowledge. Due to this lack of knowledge, we separated. We said we were just too different.

Our pastor called, saying, "I have been missing you at church. Why haven't you been there?" I started to give him all the excuses that pastors are used to hearing, but out of my mouth came, "Bill and I are separated." He was very surprised. Our public faces were all good, but the one at home, quite different.

Our public faces were all good, but the one at home, quite different.

I began to personally seek the Lord about what was missing. The Holy Spirit revealed Hosea 4:6 to me and I then realized the need for wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Proverbs 24:3-4 (AMP) “Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation],4 And by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches...” The Holy Spirit guided me through prayer and resources to Ephesians 5:18-33, helping me to understand about marriage being like Christ and the Church, and God’s plan for relationships.

While I had been to Bible college, I did not know the Word of God like I do today. I did not know how to apply God's Word to my life like I do now. After a futile counseling session with our pastor, I unwittingly was led by the Holy Spirit to invite Bill home for lunch that day. During lunch I asked him, "Bill, what is there about me that you can't live with?" And he gave me a list! I remember saying to him, "I don't know if I can do all these things, but I love you. I really would like for you to come home."

He did come home. I would like to tell you that we lived happily ever after, but we didn't, because we had the same lack of knowledge. But it was line upon line, precept upon precept (Isaiah 28:10) that we began to learn and open our hearts to the Word of God.

Years later, God called us into full-time ministry and we pastored together for 23 years. When that call came, I willingly told my husband “Whither thou goest I will go” (Ruth 1:16). This part of our journey was most fulfilling, learning to worship God by loving people.

This part of our journey was most fulfilling, learning to worship God by loving people.

Bill and I were two totally opposite people having different ways of doing things. We learned to be team players and complete each other, instead of competing with each other. We came to understand that we were both equally important, but functionally different. I became my husband’s encourager and no longer tried to control and do things my way.

As a result of our learning to walk in unity and agreement, we enjoyed a successful ministry together. Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,...”

If I could offer key words for your marriage in ministry, they would be:

  • prayer

  • agreement

  • unity

  • time

  • no competition

Your marriage is the most important relationship you will ever have, except your relationship with Jesus.

As your marriage goes, so goes your ministry!


"Equal, But Different" is ENTRY THREE in our Marriage + Ministry series. Miss the first entry? Click here to catch up!

Janet Lay has been active as a teacher, counselor, seminar speaker, and television hostess. For years she traveled throughout the United States presenting the victorious lifestyle to women. During that time she spoke in Women's Aglow and Women Alive retreats and meetings. Due to her extensive travel, she has kept abreast of the Holy Spirit's moving among women. She has also ministered in South America, Central America, Canada and Europe. Janet and her late husband, Bill, conducted marriage seminars across the nation, as well as served as Assistant Pastors at Victory Christian Center and staff counselor at Victory Bible Institute in Tulsa, OK. Later they pastored Cornerstone Church in Grove, OK. Janet has authored and published her self-improvement course for women, The Fragrance of Knowledge, based on Proverbs 31. Her lifelong passion has been to enhance family values. Janet and Bill were married just short of 60 years, have four sons, two daughters-in-love, five grandchildren & their spouses, and ten great-grandchildren.

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