CONSIDERING the expanse of the work ahead of me over the next few months, having spent precious time with someone who needed emotional and spiritual care, I was reminded how unimportant tasks are. Sure, I was feeling overwhelmed at my workload, and sure I was frustrated with my inability to focus on just one thing and get it done. But one thing I was satisfied in was simply being there; being my best for somebody else, even if it didn’t seem very helpful at all.
For me that’s the job of pastor: to be there; simply being there is the role in every important way. What a privilege to fit the role where nothing of ourselves can be brought to it, other than the ability to ‘let go and let God’. Pastor, in a very important way, is nothing about biblical or theological knowledge. Indeed, it may be the negation of all knowledge, but, I guess, it’s only with biblical or theological knowledge — coupled with the experience of pastoral method — that we may know anything of this mystical work that uses us as mere instruments of the divine.
I had spent time with someone who was weak and vulnerable — at the lowest ebb of their lives. Even in a place where nothing made any sense any longer, and where the end was nigh. We talked about it. We ventured where many a person could not go. We discussed, in the open, matters we rarely think about let alone vocalise. And there were long sighing and weeping pauses, even angry ones.
Simply being there is precious. There is no quick fix and no solution that might be ‘given’. Simply being there in the pastoral space is about knowing how important it is. It won’t fix anything, but being there communicates love, acceptance, affirmation, unity and encouragement. Simply being there says to another person, “I value you as you are, even if you don’t value yourself. You matter. Don’t give up. We can do this together. Let me pray with you. Let us sit unhurried by agendas, schedules or life. Let us be. And, you are precious in my sight, and all the more in God’s.”
Simply being there is a momentary delight in the eternal heavens. Being there we do the angel’s work. There, in the midst of someone’s chaotic and abysmal life, we can do something by doing nothing; it may mean everything when nothing can be done.
Yes, it may mean everything to someone just to sit and be there when nothing can be done.
When we encounter “desperate” in another person let the Holy Spirit counsel us to stay, and not run. We have been placed there for a purpose; a most important reason. Holy Spirit, encourage us when you place us with the weak and vulnerable; that we are enough for their need though we may feel hopeless and so ill-equipped. Let us trust God for ears to hear and the right words to say. God will not let us down in our striving to care. On the contrary, God will bless us with what we need to care.
Just by being there we are able to care.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.