Woman’s Work ~ by Rebekah (Branham) Smith
“My mother was a housewife. Eventhough there were many opportunities for her to have appropriated a share of the spotlight that was upon her husband’s ministry, and perhaps evenachieved a measure of personal fame, she chose to remain at home, in the background, and take care of her children.
Among her contemporaries, hervery shy demeanor and private lifestyle was a bit unusual. The wives of the other Branham Campaign staff members were very actively involved in their husbands’ ministries, and they often took charge of such tasks as organizing the ushers and volunteer workers, book sales, the music program,and on occasion, they even spoke at the afternoon services.
In contrast, Mother was usually the last person to arrive before the service began, and the first person to leave when it was over. Shewould always ask Dad to tell whoever would be conducting the preliminaries to please not call on her, but still she worried that maybe they would forget and do the dreaded deed – have her stand up so that everyone could see her.
Mother often said that the only thing she knew how to do was wash and iron clothes. In fact, even when she traveled she took along a small washboard so that she could scrub the collars and cuffs of Dad’s white shirts, which she then ironed on the top of a suitcase padded with towels. We would tease her, saying that she couldn’t stay away from home any longer than it took forthe washing machine to cool down.
The people that came to know Mother were always impressed by her very gentle nature, as well as by the wisdom of her counsel. But she also possessed a surprising inner strength, which was vital, as there were times when she was virtually alone as she dealt with the problems of raising her family.
It was only after I had a family of my own that I began to recognize what a strong and stable anchor she had provided for our family through the years. I would look at Mother and think, “If only I could be as resolute, and as sure of my role as what she is.” That is why I was so surprisedone day when she told me that for many years she had harbored feelings of inadequacy and humiliation.
I had gotten behind in my ironing, a task which I truly detest, and Mother came to my rescue, as usual. She gathered up abig bundle of clothes to take to herhouse and do for me. I felt guilty, sort of, and to ease my conscience I said to her, “Well, at least you’ll be doing something you really enjoy!” She looked at me for a second, and then said, “Whatever made you think that I enjoy ironing clothes?”“Well you’re always doing it,” I reminded her, “even on vacations. Remember the time we were up in the mountains of Colorado, staying in that cabin with no electricity, and you found an old flatiron at the bottom of the wood box?
You scrubbed it up, and the next thing we knew you were washing clothes in the creek, drying them on the hitching rail, and ironing with that old flatiron. You must love to iron!” She smiled at me with a little side-ways grin. “No,” she said as she shook her head, “it’s not the ironing that I love.” I could hardly believe my ears.
This was the woman that often ironed socks, shoestrings, and even washcloths! She must have noted the bewildered look on my face, and she began to relate to me this story: “I began ironing for the public when I was about ten years old.
I ironed twelvestiffly starched men’s white shirts every day, and I had to stand right next to the woodstove, summer, and winter, in order to keep the two flatirons hot. Right then I learned to hate ironing, but I had to help pay our way, and it was what I could do best.
“When Bill and I were married and I began to travel with him to a few of the meetings, I was introduced for the first time to what it seemed that the world expected of the ideal minister’s wife. I felt that there was just no way that I could ever measure up to those expectations.
The wives and family members of the other ministers who traveled with Bill the Lindseys, the Baxters, the Moores, the Bosworths, and others–were all educated, and (in my eyes) they appeared to be so accomplished. The only thing I knew how to do was housework– keeping the house, the kids, and the clothes. I knew that Bill didn’texpect me to be a social butterfly, but I felt so ignorant, and I was constantly afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing and bringing a disgrace to his ministry.
Finally, satan had me to the place where I even thought that Bill would be better off without me. “One day I was at the ironing board, rushing to finish up the clothes that I was needing to get packed for Bill. I was feeling sorry for myself, and wishing that I could be more like the other wives that I knew would be attending the meetings he was preparing to leave for. “ ‘Lord,’ I cried, ‘Why does it seem that this is the only thing I am able to do for my husband and my family?
Why can’t I do something that is important?’ “Then something spoke to my heart and said, ‘You can pray for them.’ “Of course, I always prayed for every member of my family, but somehow as I continued to iron Bill’s shirt, I began to pray specifically for him, asking the Lord to strengthen him for the meetings which lay just ahead. “Then I ironed Sarah’s skirt, and I began to pray for her, and forthe difficulties and decisions she faced at school each day. “And so it went.
As each article was taken from the basket, I would pray for the one who would wear that garment. All too soon, the ironing was finished, and I knew that I had found my important job. “I really don’t like to iron, but from then on it ceased to be just ‘ironing’ to me and became an‘opportunity’ instead.”
Scattered throughout the Scriptures are stories of heroic women whose lives influenced their families, and, at times, even helped to shape the histories of their communities.
They were just ordinary women, but they each had learned a valuable secret, and that secret is this:There is a tendency in us all to pass by the small opportunities which come our way, thinking there is a bigger and better one just ahead. But faithfulness in doing whatever duty is at hand, and an ability to recognize an opportunity to serve God, even in humble tasks that isthe stuff of which true heroes, andheroines, of the faith are made.”
What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)
By Rebekah Smith This article in found in the Only Believe Magazine