I have been looking back over my ministry thus far, and one thing surprised me as I did that; I find myself missing those who at times I have considered pests! Sorry if it rocks your faith or surprises you that a minister should regard anyone like that, but there are people who always seem to want your attention; who tend to turn up when you are really tired; who cannot read your body language that you are a bit uncomfortable; who miss even very direct non subtle hints that it is time for them to leave!
However, this week I saw it: below all that was annoying, the love of many of them for me was unfeigned and the friendliness of their smile when they talked to me was genuine. Several of them prayed for me every night of their lives. Many of them are gone now from this earthly scene: I find myself missing them very much. Their names are dear to me.
I think of one who may or may not be alive; If he is, it is a miracle; if he is not it would be no surprise. His problem was drink; well actually that is nonsense: his drug was drink. His “problem” was a horrendous life story which included being made to sleep in the coal bunker when he was a small child. He used to growl at me and was occasionally threatening. I would not have fancied my chances if he landed one of his huge fists on me. To be honest, at times I could see him far enough. From time to time though he would hug me and say, “I love you mate.” Having said that, if I heard he was in Edinburgh again… well I might just delete this blog within a day and say “nonsense” to its thoughts!
Pastor or caring Christian or both: it may surprise you that in years to come you will miss those who you thought you would be glad to see the back of because to put it mildly they were quite hard work when they were around! Perhaps though, it is no surprise: it is Christ in you helping you to love them with His love. You know that. However, you may discover this some day in the future as well; you will look back and find Christ in you being consoled by the reality of their love and friendship towards you.
May that help you when you cannot get away from someone this Sunday!