Rose Marie Miller doesn't believe in retirement. At 88 and widowed, after serving communities around the world for decades alongside her pastor-husband, she now ministers to Asian women living in London eight months out of the year with World Harvest Mission. Though she makes ministry look easy, Miller admits that she's been challenged, both as a wife and a missionary, by insecurity, doubt, and fear over the years. But God has spoken truth to her in the midst of it all.
In her new book, Nothing is Impossible With God, Miller writes about trusting God when challenges seem insurmountable. Here's a glimpse into Miller's missional heart.
Q: In Nothing Is Impossible, you speak candidly about your resistance to actively be a part of some of your husband's ministry outreaches. Was he aware of how much you were struggling with your faith during your marriage?
Was Jack aware of my struggles? No, I do not think so. It was hard to be honest with him. I was successful in taking many troubled people into our home that I think he thought I would be happy with everything he wanted me to do.
Q: Tell us about some of the changes that God made in your life over time so that you were able to joyfully become a full-time ministry partner with your husband.
It was always God coming into my heart with a big push. In Switzerland showing me my pride and arrogance, in Uganda showing me how helpless I was. Then after Jack [my husband]'s heart attack in Uganda, God reminded me he would be with me as he was with Moses (Exodus 33:14). God's Spirit was always behind me to change my heart. He continues to do that today, even after I lost Jack in 1996.
Q: You devote a major portion of your book to learning to pray. Prayer seems like such a simple concept, but what are some of the things we so often misunderstand about praying?
First we miss how helpless we are to know how to pray without the Spirit teaching us (Romans 8). Second, we miss the kingdom aspect of praying. It isn't about us; it is about God restoring a broken world and people. Third we lack persistence (Luke 11). Fourth we forget we are in a battle. Our enemies are not flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, and rulers of this dark world. We forget how eager the Spirit is to hear our prayers, and we lack the faith that our prayers are stored in heaven in a bowl to be thrown out when it is God's time. We do not pray with expectancy.
Q: You share with the women that you minister to about the women of the Bible who faced the impossible. Who were some of those women, and what challenges did they face?
The Spirit has used Eve, Sarah, Hannah, and Mary in my life to teach me about myself and the ways of God:
Eve believed an impossible lie. In my life journey, I have realized that if I had been in the garden of Eden, I too would have chosen to eat the fruit rather than submit to God. The impossible lie that beguiled Eve was that God was withholding something from her. Satan knew how to seduce her and twist God's word to his advantage: "Did God really say?" (Genesis 3:1). We need to know what God really said, and we need to listen when he speaks. We especially need to listen when he says, "I will never fail or abandon you" (Hebrews 13:5).
Sarah believed an impossible promise. Sarah was asked to believe God's promise that she would have a son. Her problem was that she had been barren—infertile—for many years. This was a very important promise. God had told her husband Abraham that he would be the father of nations, so it was crucial for both Abraham and Sarah to believe that God would do the impossible. What did I learn from Sarah? I like to take matters into my own hands like Sarah did. I am impatient in waiting for God to work out his plans. Like Sarah, I need the laughter of faith for the impossibilities of life. Sarah's laugh was a genuine laugh of faith when, at 90 years of age, she held little Isaac in her arms.
Hannah prayed an impossible prayer. We hear Hannah praying twice: once in desperation, and once in faith regarding who God is and what he is doing in her life and in the nations. I was captured by her plea, "If you will give me a son" (1 Samuel 1:11). It reminded me of prayers I have prayed: "If only you had not taken Jack, I would not be so lonely." It is too easy to live out of the "if onlys" of life, and not come to the place of faith as Hannah did. God answered her prayer and gave her a son, whom God used to bring his people back to himself. I long to be able to exalt God in prayer the way she did.
Mary was given an impossible task. Giving birth to the Son of God and nurturing him into manhood, Mary humbly submitted to God's plan for her life, and brought forth the one who would save his people from their sins. Like Mary, God also has given me a task: bearing children, taking people into our home, going to places like Uganda, London, and India. Like Mary, I too am flawed, but I have the same Savior she did. She is truly a blessed woman, and I am blessed too.
Q: Many of us struggle with contentment. How can we work toward being truly content?
I believe it goes back to the lie of the evil one that your circumstances or people are the cause of your discontent. The struggle is to accept that God has sovereign control over your life, and over all that is around you. I was a very discontented pastor's wife, and one day the Spirit showed me that it was rooted in my not accepting God's right to control my life. A good read through 2 Kings shows how sovereign God is. It is good to have a heart fixed on the steadfast love of the Lord. Also to know that you are a part of God's plan to bring life to broken people.
Q: Is there ever a time where we can retire from doing God's work?
I do not find retirement in the Bible. We are never off the hook to continue to learn about God, his ways, and his will, and to share with the truth with others.
Content adapted from Nothing is Impossible with God. Copyright ©2012 by Rose Marie Miller. Used with permission of New Growth Press.