We get by with a little help from our friends
It was a bad day, on the heels of a bad night, on the heels of a bad day. It seemed that the bottom had dropped out of my one or two parts of my carefully constructed world, and what's worse, I couldn't do a blessed thing to fix matters - not today - maybe not ever, for matters that needn't fixing weren't entirely dependent on me.
I don't like being in a place where there's nothing I can do. It feels paralyzing, not just for those one or two areas of life where the bottom has dropped out, but for all of life. It was strange indeed that on this very low day, the lowest of lows in recent memory, I should be sitting in my office, staring blankly at my computer, when someone tells me that "A John McCullough is on line one for you."
The receptionist couldn't know that this was the former pastor of the church where I'm presently the pastor, my predecessor who served faithfully for 37 years; couldn't know that, of all the people in the world I would have wanted to speak with on that day, he would be in the top three because he would be unique in the world to speak into the situations in my life where things were tense. He only called because he'd sent me an e-mail - the same one - three consecutive times, and still wasn't convinced that it had gone through, so he called the church to find out.
But he called, and there we were, our voices and hearts connected, transcending years (we spoke last, I believe in '01) and miles, to share our hearts with one another. I told him of the bottom dropping out matters. He laughed, quoted some scripture, and said some words that overflowed with a depth of wisdom and compassion, seasoned with grace and humor, so that by the time we were finished speaking, my heart was light. My God, literally, what a pastor!
But timely words aren't the prerogative of pastors only. They're a possibility with all of us, and the truth of the matter is we may never know the power of a particular phone call or thank you note, an encouraging word, or affirmation. I'm reminded of the exhortation in the Bible to keep casting our bread on the water. Keep sharing, encouraging, loving, sowing seeds of hope as we can. God knows that this will be how lives are buoyed in stormy waters. We get by with a little help from our friends...so let's get on with encouraging words!