Wherever you are; BE there.
A common phrase heard in our house as our daughters were growing up was “Earth calling Dad.” I would “zone out,” and be in my own thoughts oblivious to what was going on around me. I wish I could say that such a pattern is behind me and that I have learned to heed Lornes’ words. I partially excuse my inattention to others around me as coming from an ability to “really concentrate’ on an item of interest to me and look upon this tendency of mine as a “gift of concentration.”
In the few paragraphs to follow, I have related some thoughts that have been helpful to me in learning to deal with my inattentiveness. I share these with you not as something that I have accomplished, but rather a goal toward which I am working.
First, what are the results of not really “being” where you are? I think Lorne had seen this a great deal in the lives of others and how it affected them and their ministry. I heard him make his statement; “Wherever you are, be there,” on more than one occasion. To not “be there” when we are with others hinders the development of our relationship with them. It also lessens our awareness of needs on their part that the Lord would want us to address. In addition, the failure of our ability to relate appropriately interferes with the grace that the Lord would have us receive from Him through others.
As I look at the reasons why I am “not there” when I should “be there,” two thoughts come to mind. The first is that my mind is occupied with unresolved issues at work/in ministry/in daily life. I am absorbed with working out details and possible solutions to these matters, and I only pay surface attention to whatever else is happening at the moment. Interestingly enough, I seem to be able to recall word for word when questioned about what was just said, even though it had no observable effect on me at the time. My brain must function like a cardiac monitor, which, when its button is pushed, will produce the previous twelve seconds of a patient’s cardiac rhythm! I recall Howard Hendricks comments on having your mind cluttered with unresolved issues. He relates that he found a place on the freeway not far from home where he left all the daily concerns. He simply chose a location at which to do this, and refused to deal with them any further that day. That choice freed him up for relationships at home. I have profited from his advice and have been able to leave much behind me as I close the office door each day.
The second reason for not “being there” is simply my absorption with what I happen to be doing at the time; whether reading, or being involved in some project. Romans 12:10 speaks to this issue: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” When I regard what I am doing of such importance that I cannot pay attention to others, I am not honoring them above myself.
If any one ever had reason to be occupied with their own thoughts and concerns, it would have been our Lord. Yet we see Him on the way to Jerusalem, having just explained his necessary passion to His disciples. As he was headed to the cross, in the company of a large crowd leaving Jericho, a lone voice called to Him by the side of the road. With the press of the crowd, and all that lay before Him, it could have been easily dismissed. Mark 10:40 relates that “Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” Earlier in Mark chapter 5, as Jesus was called to the bedside of a twelve year old girl in the process of dying, He was pressed by a large crowd. In the midst of all the jostling and pressure, there came a touch which drew healing power. It was the touch of a woman desperate because of her disease. In the press of the crowd, and with the urgency of the impending death of the twelve year old girl, it could have been easily overlooked. Not so with Jesus. He stopped and asked; “Who touched my clothes?”
The above accounts help me understand that wherever I go, there are those who are calling by the side of the road, and those who can only reach out and touch. There is a reason for Lornes’ repeated statement: “Wherever you are; be there.” Unless I “am there,” I will not be aware of the voices of those calling for help, or feel the touch of those in need. Unless I “am there,” the Lord cannot use me in their lives.
The Lord has called us to make disciples. As we go, we are to bring others to identification with Him, and to equip them for their ministry to others. The relationship that is required in this process is one of “being there.” It is characterized more often by silence than by speech, by listening carefully rather than by explaining. May the Lord so work in us that “wherever we are,” we can “be there.”
In Christ, Richard Spann