Saturday, November 3, 2007

I'll be...right...there.

The telephone call is never expected. It can come early morning, late at night, or in the middle of a busy day. My last words before saying goodbye to the caller are usually, "I'll be right there." These are calls made in an emergency room waiting area from the family or friends of a loved one undergoing life-saving care. It is a crisis anxious time...a time of uncertainty.

"I'll be right there."

Those are the words heard on the other end of the telephone line. They are words that speak of geography and speed... right there...present ASAP. For me, however, it is not just about speed and geography. Frankly, there are times I am thankful for the time alone to drive some distance to the hospital. It is in those moments alone that I can picture the person in the center of this crisis as well as the family around them. It is in those moments that I can pray. As I drive those miles to the hospital it is also a time to focus and see where my own spirit is. Am I anxious? angry? scared? What should I say? What should I not say? What will it mean to be truly present with these children of God, without my own expectations or agendas? What will keep me from seeing and hearing the things I need to see and hear?

"I'll be right there."

I cannot hide from myself and my life; they are part of me and make me who I am. But in those holy moments those things need boundaries that keep my stuff from intruding on the ground that I will walk on with those in crisis. The Apostle Peter often missed what the Lord was saying because of his own fear, because the Lord often worked in a way Peter did not expect. How can I learn from Peter's mistakes? If I do not learn, and if I don't have my own boundaries, I may miss hearing the family and being a vessel of God's care in that tender moment. In order to be fully present, it helps me to get right, before I get there.

"I'll be right there."

Being there is always an honor. Pastors are often there because they claim the ministry of the Incarnational Christ, the One who took human form and dwelt among humans. We remember how Christ was right there with the poor, the hurting, the lost and the dying. In these crisis settings we are reminded and we remind others that God's love and power and healing have not abandoned us in these trying moments. These are moments when words are precious and few, when listening skills are the best used gift. There will be time for prayer; there is always time to be a non-anxious presence in the middle of high anxiety moment. I wish I were better at it than I am; sometimes I realize too late what I should have done or said. But despite my failings, I continue and try to grow in grace and be more fully present next time. For I realize the words I have given to many a distressed telephone caller, Christ has offered to all who work in the name of God...who step alone with awe and humility into waiting rooms and through ICU doors or jails and nursing homes...

I'll be right there.

1 comment:

Stephen Taylor said...

Joseph, could you come over ASAP?