Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Phone Calls Later...

Hello All,

This last week of the year, Kingsfield's staff is given the week off from their usual duties. It's a great week to recharge and ready oneself for the next calendar year. As a result, we have been enjoying some leisurely activity. But the world around us does not stop. Consider our return home from Sea World tonight. The phone rang out twice and I knew that both phone calls had to be answered.

The first call was from a young lady who got in touch with me through my Facebook account earlier this week, wanting to tell me some exciting news. I had a decent idea as to what she might want to talk with me about, but I always love to hear people tell me. Of course, she is getting married in 2010 and wisely was asking for pre-marital counseling. Being a champion of the importance of pre-marital counseling, I readily, humbly, but excitedly consented to meet with them.

I am truly honored to get this kind of call. This person is asking me to invest in their life, and in the second most important relationship in their life! That position is truly priceless to me and I cannot wait to begin the process with them, though they may seriously regret their decision. I tell my couples that I could care less about their wedding day. As a result, if I get the sense from the Lord that He is not doing a work of uniting their hearts, I will strongly recommend that they both reconsider getting married. "But we have a date, have put out money for..." I DO NOT CARE! All that matters to me is that they have a God honoring marriage that withstands the test of time and changing circumstances. I will do my best to biblically challenge their positions and beliefs about marriage, all in hopes of preparing them for the very real issues in front of them.

That being said, I have only needed to tell one couple that they should not wed. They got married anyway and were divorced just several months later. I'm not saying it's because I told them so. I'm saying it because it was clear from the very beginning that their marriage was based on a need to not be single any longer, in desperation, turning to the only available outlet. Not a good idea.

What the Lord brings together, will stay together, albeit through a lot of hard work and steady commitment. There is no easy marriage, unless it is a dishonest one! If God is not building, then they that labor to stay married, often do so in vain. My hope and prayer is that this couple will have the wisdom to analyze and criticize their own desires through the filter of biblically centered pre-marital counseling. For my part, I will come along side of them, and pray that the Lord fills me with His Word for application to their hearts.

No sooner had the first call finished, when the second one rang out. This one was quite different in nature. It came from a man, who has just received some disturbing news relating to his health. He had gone to the Doctor the other day, and the news left him stunned and burdened.

This was unexpected news. In fact, when last I talked with this man, there was tremendous optimism and eager anticipation for the best. Tonight, that was absent in his voice and demeanor. Being a friend of this brother, I found myself saddened, but knew that the time for such feelings would come later. Right now, we need to join together in prayer, and call on the faith in Christ that propels us both.

Again, I am so blessed to be on the receiving end of a call like this. Here is a man, crying out for help, asking for the Lord to impart wisdom, but more than that, needing someone who will listen. I am humbled that he called me, and grateful to be a conduit through which Christ might bring comfort and strength in this pressing time. I told him that an afternoon coffee was in order and that we would do this tomorrow.

The irony of these two calls could not speak more loudly to me. Here was a young woman, brimming with excitement, looking forward to this new year in anticipation of a new life. On the other hand, here is an older gentleman, staring down the barrel of treatments that may prolong his life, but at that point, only by a little. The young lady is riding the crest of joy; the man is riding the wave of disappointment. All of this in a matter of minutes of time in my evening! I went from great joy to great concern.

Such is the emotional palette that ministry calls us to endure. There are tremendous highs and difficult lows. Paul talked about these things, I believe, when he wrote "who is sufficient for these things?" Later, when compiling his list of burdens, he adds after writing about physical afflictions, the mental afflictions that ministry affords.

"besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches." II Corinthians 11:28

I don't write this to call attention to my emotional state or to pat myself on the back for the mental hardships that might come my way. I will be the first to say, and say loudly, that I have nothing to complain about! Usually, the things that I deal with when it comes to people, makes me grateful that I have the minor problems that I do in comparison to the major struggles that they face. I am not a martyr and my intention in writing this is not to take that position.

Rather, I am saying that this is par for the course. This is what ministry is all about. When Pastors get phone calls, most all know that the phone calls that they prepare for, that they want to receive, will tax them and force them to trust in God as much as the person they are trying to convince to trust in God! And I mean that in bad AND in good situations! For the young lady, she needs to trust that God is leading her into this relationship for the fulfillment of His purpose that cannot be attained apart from her marriage to this particular individual at this time in her life. For this man, he needs to trust that the Lord is good, in spite of what he presently believes to be bad news.

All the while, a Pastor like myself loves these moments. Not because they are easy or hard, per se. No, I love them because all other pretense is stripped away. This ministry that I will perform by the grace of the Lord, will not be glamorous, creative, or even noticed by any others not intimately involved. It will be done unto the Lord, in complete service to these individuals. All the fancy preaching and anecdotes will be done away with. What will be left will be authentic care and ministry that comes from Holy Spirit comforting and exhorting through His vessel.

To me, the rewarding part of the ministry, is the result of consistently done battle in the lives of individuals. If this young lady makes it to the altar, and I happen to preside over her wedding, I will stand so thankful to the Lord that I stand there unashamed to publically present a couple that I believe to be godly representatives of what biblical marriage is about. If this man is healed and made whole again, I will stand at the end of that process knowing that I prayed and partnered with the Lord in that work of healing. If this man is not healed, then I will stand by as he is ushered into the presence of his Savior, my work will have been to continue to focus his eyes in that direction. If these things are accomplished, then I will have done my duty unto the Lord and to these, His people.

The greatest feeling of fulfillment is to see these people that I get to engage with, win their respective battles and walk courageously, faithfully into whatever destiny the Lord has ordained for them.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


Brandy said...

I always enjoy your blogs. They give many points to ponder (and often make me laugh).

I have prayed for the lunch you're having with the man who received bad news from the doctor. Specifically, may your words be the Lords -- to meet and minister to this gentleman where he is right now. I will continue to pray for him.

mhcowen said...

F&L, Thank you for being such a beacon of light...in all of life's twists and turns. You both are tremendous blessings to us. I was just talking yesterday and today about our premarital counseling we did with you (can you believe that was 7 years ago!?!) with a few of our friends. Now...if we only had hit the chapter you said we could skip...:) What are you doing Saturday?:)

Frank And Lela said...

Brandy And Los Cowens,

Thanks for the encouragement! Please do continue to pray for my friend. This is definitely difficult.

And, that chapter did in fact turn out to be somewhat necessary huh!? I had a couple skip another chapter one other time and would'nt you know, they ended up needing that chapter in much the same way!

I have learned my lesson: NO MORE SKIPPED CHAPTERS!!

Blessings and a happy new year to you all!