Where The Rubber Meets The Road
Some days I just need a reality check! A million things happen in life (and in the work of the Lord) and sometimes I find my heart sitting a bit off kilter. Oftentimes a Sunday afternoon can be that for me. Having just preached two services and prayed/encouraged/spoke to people before, in-between and after the services, eight hours later, sometimes on a Sunday afternoon I can feel like I am dragging my head and heart around. Many folks who devote their Sundays to serving can feel this way. On top of that, there is the inevitable (for some of us) Sunday afternoon feelings of uselessness, fear, apprehension and “what did I just say?” moments.
Last Sunday was one of those days for me. But God…
I received an email from someone in the fellowship. They were in the hospital with their newborn daughter (who was born 5 weeks early by emergency C-section). But they weren’t emailing for themselves. Instead they were emailing for their closest friends, who were actually in the next room. This couple and I had prayed for their friends almost 7 months ago. Right away, this couple’s pregnancy was at risk as the baby had a chromosomal abnormality. The child was not growing at the normal rate and pregnancy went to full term. I was emailed to see if I can come and visit the couple. They were in the hospital and the doctors had given the couple a 99% chance that the baby would be stillborn.
When I got to the hospital, I met the brother who emailed me. We spoke for a bit about his wife and new daughter who was in the Neo-natal intensive care. He shared the entire story about his daughter and wife. And about their friends who we were about to see. He was without sleep and had yet to hold his daughter. His wife was recovering from surgery and there were concerns about his own family. Yet his wanted to serve and bless his friends.
I entered the hospital room and began to talk with this couple. They shared about their journey and what was ahead of them. The reality of the possibility of giving birth to a stillborn child. The unknown. The fears. Yet, in all of the discussion, the tears and sadness, there was that precious hope in the God who can do anything. As we spoke about the reality of Jesus, the reality that God knew all of this and was there for them, the strength that is available by the Spirit, I thought to myself, “This is where the rubber meets the road.” This couple was heart-broken and scared yet so rooted in the unwavering love of God. We prayed. We cried. We laughed. We spoke of life, death, heaven, eternity and homesickness. We read Psalms and spoke of Jesus preparing mansions. We spoke of anger, faith and loss. Yet in all of it, there was a simple faith and an awareness of God’s grace at work in all of this.
I think that sometimes, in all of the rumblings and ruminations of a million voices, controversies, ideas and internet arguments, it is so easy to lose focus on the simplicity and awesomeness of the reality of God in Jesus. I was blessed with a return look at why I wanted to follow Jesus in the first place. Simply because He is and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Not a reward of getting everything we want, but the reward of Himself in whatever transpires. That is where the rubber meets the road. This is what was sustaining a young couple in the face of the most horrific of circumstances. This is where I want to spend much more time than I do. In that simple place of the reality of God. A place where there is no arguments, no bickering, no frustration, no question marks. It is the place where there is only grace, love and peace. Resting in the arms of God in the midst of a beautiful mess.
To close out the story, little Jonathan was born at 6 am on Monday morning and his parents got to take him home today. A total miracle. Although there are many complications and the prognosis is still dire (the doctors said some children can fight death of a few weeks), this precious family has been able to spend time with their son until he is goes home to be with the Lord. The couple who first contacted me’s daughter (Mackenzie) is completely off of all her tubes and Lord willing will be heading home in the next day or so. The testimony of these two families has touched the hearts of the hospital staff in profound ways. We are hoping and praying (if the Lord wills) to do a joint baby dedication at church on Sunday! Where the rubber meets the road, God is God. He finished the work on Calvary’s cross and will be faithful to complete the work He began in us.
The simplicity and beauty of incarnational ministry.
So beautifully written, I was especially touched by the next to last paragraph.
Thanks so much for sharing your heart.
My pleasure – This has been a pretty profound experience for me overall. Glad to pass along its blessings
WOW Great story really needed to read that!
Daniel, you mean your…normal? If a pastor doesn’t have those Sunday afternoon thoughts I’d be concerned. A great reminder of what true pastoral ministry is about. And I’ve had my share of those same kind of afternoons or Monday mornings.
I always so enjoyed watching the families in church grow through life. It got messy and heartbreaking at times, but it’s what I miss the most. It makes the preaching and teaching worthwhile because we see the fruit of it, as in these two couples.
blessings on you and all true pastors-in-heart,
Pastor Daniel — You are so transparent. It is encouraging and refreshing 🙂 Thank you for sharing how the LORD IS moving in the lives of these new little blessings’, their families, and how the miniature humans are all ready being used to further the kingdom!! May God do a re-creative miracle in little Jonathan! May he live a rich, full life, fully powered and anchored in God!
The next Sunday afternoon that you’re asking yourself, “What did I just say?” remember this little gem from Pastor Chuck Smith. He shared today on KWAVE that when we fear the LORD, we ARE His treasure. When we commit our ways to Him, He guides our steps and even our words. That is what I’d like to leave you with today … YOU, Pastor Daniel, ARE GOD’S TREASURE (and perhaps His secret weapon! ha!) You, Lynn, Obediah and Maranatha are sparkling treasures in God’s heart.
Love it when words incubate and begin to hatch as time passes. I read this last night, after a long day at the office. Earlier in the day, I’d received a prayer request for a young man, Adam, who was told he has lymphoma again. This treatment will not be as hard as the first, his first treatment will be today at 6 pm. Every 6 weeks up to 2 years. Bone marrow transplant at the end is not certain but likely.
His response when he found out we are praying for him. “thank you so much, I love your family and we will be fine I promise!” Faith…love…
While out on my run today, your words Pastor D, began to incubate…a tear fell from my eye, I thought am I crying or is it just the early morning tears that sometimes come when I am squinting while I run. Thoughts began to bombard my mind, I realized I was crying, for: the families you visited; young lovely Adam; my client who just told me about the birth of her lovely down’s syndrome baby and the death of the baby she’d visualized during her pregnancy; my lovely brother Mike who when his wife was diagnosed with cancer said, “as she looses her hair, I will have to tell her even more often how beautiful she is…”; and my lovely father who passed when I was in my twenties at the time breaking me in two, only to have God take this heap of clay, remold me yet again. Interestingly, I rarely cried prior to his death.
Now, as I wipe new tears from my eyes, I am lifted by your words and am so very grateful for you lovely, lovely pastor. Yes, lovely D δἀσκαλος μου, thank you for being you and being lead…
Love you D δἀσκαλος μου dearly Vera
Great word D……..glad you were able to walk with those people. I’m sure it was very much a mutual blessing. Love ya man.
I am assuming this is about Paul and Natalie and their new son. We are Lutheran Christians from Portland, and have been thinking about the family and their crisis. God gives us only what we can bear, even under dire circumstances, and we are thankful that their son got to go home to the loving arms of their parents and sisters. They will give him all the love plus the loveof God for their family. I have lost our own son many years ago, but were blessed to receive an adopted son and he has been a joy to our family. God will bless them with many gifts in their future.
Please convey our thoughts and prayers for them. Tom and Alice Gustafson
Never underestimate the power of our God and the power of unconditional, life-changing love. God’s work in each of us is an ongoing process. Trust that His work in Jonathan gives him many years to share his story and give our heavenly Father the glory. Miracles abound.