I have obviously been away from blogging for a while. I took my wife to convenient care Wednesday morning (a week ago) with sharp, terrible pains in her side. We were sent from there to the ER and eventually were in the hospital until Friday. There were some tense moments as the cause was unknown, and then the early diagnosis was a likely blood clot in her lung. Eventually they discovered there was no blood clot (great relief!), but the cause was pneumonia which was creating inflammation and irritation in the lining around the lung. Antibiotics have worked well so that we came home last Friday, and, while she is not back to 100% yet she is much, much better. We were sustained in many ways by our church and other believing friends. It has been a wonderful thing again to watch the church at work.
Our last night in the hospital, we had an experience that reminded me of the importance of the pastoral role. We were awakened about 2 am by much commotion. A man on the floor had suddenly quit breathing and there was a scramble to save his life. In the midst of it the grief of his wife could be heard. My wife stirred me suggesting a pastor might be needed. As I emerged from our room and let the staff know I was available if needed, I heard the wife of the man in danger cry out amidst her tears, “Oh, I wish my pastor were here!” It was no fault of her pastor’s that he was not there. They were from out of town and no one had expected the visit to be life threatening. I was able to sit with her and pray with her as she waited. In the end they were able to regain a pulse and eventually they were moved to another floor. The last I heard the man was continuing to improve.
This experience powerfully reminded me of the importance of the shepherding role. It is a lot easier to read and write sermons than to walk with a person through the valley of the shadow of death. I do not intend to minimize the importance of study or preaching, but simply to assert that our wrestling with God and His word should result not only in sound exposition but in a reservoir from which to draw to aid individuals facing crises in life. This is a demanding task, and we need much grace. We must also habitually walk with God to be prepared for these instances. I found myself feeling unprepared.
Also, the cry- “Oh, I wish my pastor were here!” – has stuck with me. How often is this the cry, spoken or silent, of people whose pastors see themselves as simply business managers, professional speakers, etc.? May this never be so in our flocks. Let us be faithful to the charge given by the Chief Shepherd to watch over those whom He has bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28).