Taking Time for Others
When we planned a late-summer “get out of Dodge” getaway, it was mainly to visit old friends—not just in age, but longevity. As the years slip by and casual acquaintances fade away, relationships that endure for 40 years are precious.
In this case, the reconnection was even more special: they taught the new believers’ class we attended after our baptism.
Given that history, it’s not surprising that on the Sunday morning of our recent visit we ended up at the church they attend in a small town, the kind that only rates a small circle on a map.
Yet, that day I heard one of the most moving anecdotes of the past 40 years. It was the kind that says wisdom and spiritual insights aren’t restricted to metropolitan areas and the megachurches that populate them.
From Death to Life
The pastor had returned that day from a month-long break in the pulpit, a combination of work duties coupled with a vacation.
Among other things, his message touched on the hope found in Jesus. It included a look at Christ’s miraculous raising of the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5:22-43).
The account includes a description of Jesus telling people to stop weeping because the “girl is not dead, but sleeping” (v. 39) and how others laughed and ridiculed Him for that comment.
But after telling the mockers to leave, Jesus took the parents and His disciples into the girl’s room “and said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ Immediately the girl arose and walked…” (vv. 41-42).
At this point, the pastor grew emotional as he talked about our need to be life-givers in a world that desperately needs God’s grace. He didn’t deliver that message lecture-style, but through sharing what had happened to him that week.
Interruptions of Life
He talked about what a hectic time he had on the first day of school. After dropping his kids off, he ran some errands before stopping for coffee at a favorite spot, mind churning over the catch-up required back at the office.
As he stood there, a woman—obviously hung over—loudly shared with the clerk a long string of details about her life. They included the declaration, “I’m not sure either one of them is the father.”
On she went while the pastor looked at his watch, cleared his throat a couple times, and tapped his foot loudly. One time the woman turned around and glared at him, irritated over the interruptions.
That’s when God spoke to the pastor, asking, “What are you doing? She is like that little girl. She needs you to say, ‘Talitha cumi’ so she can arise.”
Busy Agendas vs. Taking Time for Others
His story made a point. Truth be told, I’m often like that pastor, charging ahead to complete my daily agenda while ignoring people like that woman. People living chaotic lives and often scorning the hope we have to offer.
Where I often stumble is not knowing what to say to strangers, since it seems that the older I grow, the shyer I get. Nor is the chance to slip in a kind word always obvious. Yet after hearing that sermon, I know I need to do a better job of looking for opportunities.