I was in Spain when I read about the tragic news of a woman who took her life leaving her son and husband behind. She attended the church and in fact was there the weekend before her death. Although I have never met this woman, my Spirit was grieving. I felt sick to my stomach as I lifted the family up in prayer for peace and comfort. This tragedy has reminded me of importance to minister to a church family.
I don’t believe that one can go out to minister to a stranger effectively without taking the time to minister to the church family first. There have been many Sundays that I would walk to church passing people right and left without really caring enough to stop and sincerely ask how things are going. We all talk to the same group of people and warm the same pew Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. If you take just one minute to look around, the church is filled what looks like happy people. But happy faces don’t always mean happy hearts. One can be hurting and is in need of encouragement, yet may feel that no one around cares enough to stop and actually listen.
As my husband has previously said, “What is the point of asking people how they are doing, when they don’t even stop long enough to listen?” And he is right, but why can’t we find 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour to stop and listen? Because we live in a busy society that tell us that time is money.
I recall a time that I was standing in the elevator with the stranger and we quickly exchanged “hi, how are you?” The stranger proceeded to tell me that he was not doing well, because his friend was dying of cancer. I was taken by surprise, because I was not expecting the stranger to tell me how he was actually doing. Shame on me!
Valuable lessons can be learned from mistakes and the Lord has impressed the following on my heart. Each Sunday I am to partake in pew hopping. This means that each Sunday I am to seat on a different pew next to people that I do not know well. Before the preaching starts I am to take the time to get to know people who are seating next to me. This challenge excites me and makes me nervous all at the same time. Do you want to join me in pew hopping?
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:34-35