“They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and sing of Your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:7 NKJV)
Thinking about my life as a pastor, I’m discovering some of my most cherished memories are of the times I spent with people in the context of their pain and loss. Perhaps because it was in those sacred moments I felt most ill-equipped and least capable, thus demanding I be more dependent upon the Lord. As a result, God’s Spirit did what humanly I couldn’t, and He enabled the one(s) with whom I was seeking to comfort to sense His closeness more personally.
Recently I received a call from a man whose wife had been in a nursing care facility. He explained that in recent months, due to Covid, he was only able to stand at the window of her room and speak with her via his cell phone. The staff would put a phone by her ear so she could hear her husband’s voice. Over the years her ability to communicate had slowly deteriorated, until she was now in a vegetative state.
On what was to be his last visit with his beloved wife of more than fifty years, this precious man of God who had been so diligent in his attentiveness to his bride, was told she may have only four or five days to live. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, he asked if he could see her, and was allowed to come into her room. He spoke gently about his love for her and his confidence the Lord was with her. He laid by her in the narrow bed, put his arms around her and kissed her, and in that moment the Lord came and took her into His arms.
During his last call to me, I prayed with this faithful husband in his pain and hour of loss. I remembered the many times we’d visited and prayed together when I was his pastor, and I felt honored that he would call me and share this beautiful story.
During His ministry, Jesus often stopped what He was doing to pay special attention to someone in need. It was as if He gave no consideration to not going with someone who would summon Him to help them or someone they loved. How grateful I am for those many times in my ministry I had opportunity to intersect with Jesus at the bedsides of hurting people.
In the first church I served, I went to visit a young girl in the hospital and was greeted by her grandmother, who was her caregiver. Though we’d never met I immediately felt a bond of love for this family. Over the years I was called upon to help them in many ways, including walking through a wooded area searching for their son, whom we found had taken his own life.
Walking with them in painful times cemented our relationship and God gave me the opportunity to serve them through weddings, funerals, baptisms, and many other ways, for which I will be eternally grateful.
These are the moments I cherish in my retirement when I consider the fruitfulness of my ministry. I never served a large church or traveled worldwide preaching and teaching. I wasn’t well known or sought after, except by those whom the Lord commissioned me to serve.
Perhaps I’ll share a little more tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊