George Müller (1805 – 1898) is well known for his marvelously consistent, trusting, and effectual prayer life, whereby he petitioned God to establish and sustain a great work with orphans. Lesser known is his wife, Mary, who was his partner in those days of fruitful outreach to desperate children. They were married in 1830, two years before moving to Bristol, where the orphanages would be founded.
In 1870, at age 73, Mary died of rheumatic fever. The funeral procession included 1,400 children from their five orphan houses on Ashley Down. Müller elected to preach the funeral sermon, which contains the following words, a testimony to the strategic, holy, and loving teamship that Christian marriage should be.1
My precious wife died, as it were, in harness. Up to the very last she was at work for the Lord. Even when on her death-bed she gave directions for this thing and another thing to be done connected with the honour of the Lord, —caring about the sick ones outside the house, and sending refreshments; caring yet for the orphans, and giving directions concerning them. “Always abounding in the work of the Lord.” It was the very joy and delight of her heart to labour for that blessed Jesus who had bought her by His precious blood, in the full assurance of the blessed fulfillment of this word, “Forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” . . .
During all the thirty-nine years and four months that it was the joy and privilege of my heart to be united by bonds to that loved one, for her to live was Christ. This dear sister in Christ had one single business in life, one single object in life, —to live for Christ. As soon as I was united to her by such bonds she became a true helper to me in pastoral work. She went about and worked; she laboured, and laboured abundantly, in the Church at Teignmouth of which I was the pastor. And when it pleased God, thirty-seven years and nine months since, to allow us the honour and privilege to come to Bristol, to labour in this city, she in the fullest way gave herself to work among the children of God, and in every way she could, in order to live for Christ. And when it pleased God to give afterwards, as she clearly and distinctly saw, another sphere of labour on Ashley Down, it was day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, that she laboured in one even, steady course, —for her to live was Christ. Can my heart, then, but rejoice when I think of one whose life was what it was, when there is not so much as the shadow of a question remaining as to where she is now? Oh! how can it be otherwise than that my soul should be filled with unspeakable joy and delight, thinking of that blessed one being with Jesus. For her to live was Christ, and as she put off this her tabernacle, her spirit is now in the presence of Jesus; therefore to her to die is gain. I might give many reasons why to die to her is gain. For her the weakness and weariness of the tabernacle are at an end. For nearly two years past, when she came home with me, about nine o’clock in the evening, from the Orphan Houses, I could see that she was worn— worn to the utmost. I often said, “My darling, work less; my darling, stay at home.” But I could not prevail upon her to do so. She still worked and worked. She loved to be at my side, as I loved to be at her side. But I saw that it was becoming too much for her. Now for her this weariness is past— gone for ever.
1 George Müller, A Narrative of Some of The Lord’s Dealings with George Müller, vol. 2 (Muskegon, MI: Dust & Ashes, 2003), 747-748.