Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blurred Lines

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I have had conversations with friends who often talk about setting priorities - God first, then family, then ministry/church. When you are a pastoral family sometimes those lines get blurred.

It's not quite so easy to say this, then this, and then that. Also, as Dan & I have studied scripture, we see things a bit differently. The idea of priorities and a hierarchy seems to be a very Western approach to scripture.

We have always seen it as God is in the midst of every single aspect of our lives. That does not mean we don't set apart time just for the Lord. We both have a quiet time every day when we are reading His word and praying.

We also take time just for family. We eat dinner together every night. We set apart days to do something as a family. We go to our children's school events as much as possible.

We also have times of just ministry and outreach. Hospital visitations, church events, etc.

But for the most part, those lines do get blurred. As we are involved in church ministry, our children are also involved. As we minister to others, the Lord is present. As we go to our children's school events, we see it as an opportunity to get to know our neighbors and community and show them the love of Christ.

Last night, we went to visit someone in the hospital. This gentleman had an infection in his foot that has gotten out of control. He was upset and asked if all of us, since he knows our children, could come and visit him because he was afraid.

When we got there, both he and his wife were visibly upset and we were able to pray with them. They don't know the Lord. They are very rough around the edges. They sometimes talk about things that I'm not thrilled about hearing. Yet, in their time of need, they called us.

It was inconvenient. I really wanted to have a nice quiet evening at home.

It was stressful. We arrived just as he was assigned a room and we were in the way of the nurse and hospital staff.

It was confusing. The staff was in and out, his brother showed up and is loud, he and his wife are loud, and he has a very short attention span!

It was annoying. When the hospital staff said his wife couldn't spend the night with him, she wanted us to stay while she waited for the supervisor to come up so she could try to get her own way. She didn't want to drive home by herself. So we ended up waiting for an hour and a half just to find out we could have gone because they let her stay after all.

It is heart-warming. Emily was tired. Stephen & Nathan were bored. I was feeling irritated. But, after going back down into the lobby and waiting with Emily for about an hour I realized that we were able to minister to them by dropping our plans and sharing the love of God with them. We were able to show our children what it means to live out scripture. I was able to learn some patience and apologize to my children for my irritability. It was a life lesson for all of us.

This is an example of what I mean by blurred lines.

God was present and teaching me something. Our children were with us. We were teaching them. They, in turn, were ministering to this couple. Emily made him a card. Nathan & Stephen helped to make him comfortable. We were also ministering and doing outreach by going to visit.

So, rather than a priority list, I like to view it a bit differently. Sometimes those lines get blurred.