Admittedly, today has not been a typical day. But it has not been atypical either. An elderly woman in our congregation passed away. That doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen. Here is how it happened.
I have been very busy with academic work lately and have had to neglect other things. This seems to me one of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of the pastor’s job. Any time you are putting your hands to the plow and doing one work, you are neglecting another. Not just another work, you are neglecting other people. There are always people who could use prayer, encouragement, and a word in season. Such was the case today for me.
Having been swamped with other responsibilities this week, I was waiting anxiously for Thursday to come. Thursday had the promise of being a catching up day. First, I planned to catch up on yard work, both because some sweat of the brow was needed and because my dear wife grows more anxious about snake infestation each time the grass grows an inch. After mowing and weed-eating the lawn, I planned to make visits during the afternoon. I have especially been longing to do this because it is so vital to the pastor’s function, and I miss it when I go a while between visits. Today, I was planning to visit Dorothy.
But Dorothy didn’t make it to the afternoon. She died this morning. I hate that things have worked out this way. I grieve at the missed opportunity, but I am not writing to expunge guilt or defend my decision to mow this morning and visit in the afternoon. Anyone could look at the situation now and say I should have chosen differently. No one is doing that. The family is gracious. I am not writing to make any excuses or defend any decisions or actions.
I am writing because this is the life of the pastor. Plan and discipline yourself for godliness and for effective stewardship; still, know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people. Days like today force us to take refuge in Him alone. We must believe that His ways are higher than our ways. We must believe that He works all things after the counsel of His own will. He does not take his cue from our whims and presumptions. He does as He pleases. Even more, His plan is good. Romans 8 says that if God is willing to give His own Son for us, then He will freely give us all things. He will work all out for our good. So, do we trust Him?
I wanted to visit Dorothy today. I didn’t have to visit her. You want to visit your people. You want to be a minister to them. I, in fact, prayed last night that I would be able to minister to this family. So, today, I can trust that God will honor that prayer. It would assuredly please Him for me to minister grace to this family in their need. But can I still trust Him when he called her home before I reached her bed? He called her home while I mowed my lawn. What does this say about God? He works all things after the counsel of His will. I encourage you to believe with me that it is a good thing to keep this great truth in mind concerning our great God.