A Lesson in Submission

Pastor Peggy Ratliff

Click on Testimonies in the category list for Part 1 of Peggy Ratliff’s story “Without Holiness”. In Part 1 God used a Eunice to teach Peggy the importance of living a holy life. In Part 2 Peggy learns submission.

After Peggy learned the importance of living a holy life, her friend and mentor, James Millsap, started an independent church. By this time, Peggy had remarried, so she asked her husband if he wanted to follow James into the new work. Her husband concurred. Peggy found a place of ministry, but her husband’s spiritual growth stalled.

When her husband stopped going to church, their relationship became strained. Peggy found herself in an odd predicament. As she worked to build the house of God, her own house slowly fell apart. She knew the situation was serious when her husband left and didn’t return.

As Peggy prayed and searched for a solution to her marital problems she heard God say, “Read all the scriptures that apply to a wife.” Peggy searched her Bible for every scripture that referenced being a wife. Her study led her to Ephesians 5:24 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything,” NIV.  Having lived as a single mother and business woman for many years before she remarried, she wasn’t accustomed to submitting. She realized she had taken that attitude into her marriage and usurped her husband’s God given place in their union.

“When I realized what the problem was, I promised God I would submit to my husband if he would bring him home again. Three months later, my husband walked through the door. Before he could say anything, I apologized and asked him for a second chance.”

Peggy’s resolve was tested the first time she wanted to visit a girlfriend who lived an hour away. She called her husband to inquire if he was agreeable. He hesitated. Peggy wondered if he would deny her request and tears filled her eyes. Did God really expect her to act like a child who needed permission?

“How long will you be gone?”

“I don’t know; an hour or two,” said Peggy.

“OK, I just don’t want you on the road at night by yourself.”

The brief conversation broke the barrier Peggy had against submission. She realized the intent of submission is not to control but to protect. Peggy now felt safe relinquishing control to her husband’s leadership. She also knew her husband was not flourishing in ministry as she was and asked him where he wanted to attend church. He said, “The Church of God in Christ.”

Peggy smiled. “The Church of God in Christ allows women to be missionaries, but it’s on a different order than what I was accustomed. At that point, it wasn’t about me in ministry. It was about obedience. If I never preached again, I was OK with that even though it would be sad.”

The first church they visited left Peggy in tears. She was shunned for her red hair and makeup. After the service, she said to her husband, “I told God I would follow you, but if you take me here I will die.”

“We don’t have to go here,” replied her husband.

Then Peggy remembered that Eunice attended a Church of God in Christ. She also knew God would be where ever Eunice was. “Can we attend Eunice’s church?”

The following Sunday, Peggy and her husband sat next to Eunice and listened to her pastor deliver a message filled with the love of God. They stayed, and her husband studied to become a minister. On Thursday nights, congregation members were allowed to share a message, so Peggy submitted her name as a speaker.  She was thrilled and called all her friends when she received permission to speak.

Peggy’s face glowed as she recalled the experience to me. “The Lord showed up in such a profound way. My message “Let’s Go Higher” followed Moses from the back side of the desert where he was hiding his face from God to the time he was on Sinai saying ‘I want to see you face’. I challenged the congregation to move from being afraid of God to an intimate relationship with God. By the time, the message ended there was an explosion in the spirit with tongues going forth and the cries of people as God released them from bondage.”

The evidence of God’s call on Peggy’s life prompted the Church of God in Christ to ordain her as a missionary and as the district evangelist, a title usually carried by men. A year later, Peggy received a prophecy that it was time for her to build a house for God. Peggy and her husband left the Church of God in Christ and started a Bible Study in their home. The study grew into Holy Trinity Outreach Ministries. Having been trained in holiness and the value of submission, Peggy is well equipped to shepherd God’s people.

Holy Trinity Outreach Ministries is located at 1001 Central Ave, Metairie, Louisiana 70001. Services are Sundays 10:00 am and Wednesday 7:00 pm. For more information call (504) 309-2677.

About Teena Myers

Teena Myers is the Chairman of Southern Christian Writers, a freelance writer and author of three books.
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