Today was an emotional day.

While preaching is my number one passion in ministry, a strong second it providing pastoral care and hospital visitation. When one of my flock is dealing with physical tragedy I want to be right there.

This morning started with a text message while I was getting ready. One of my guys had flipped his car driving home from work early this morning. He was being rushed to the hospital. I made my way to the ER, upon arriving the ladies buzzed me back without directions because I know where I’m going. Part of pastoring means you know your way around a hospital and the staff can spot you coming. I find that they’ve taken him back for tests. Inside the room is his wife, dressed for work, but obviously not going in today on this Monday. She’s visibly shaken and bursts into tears as I approach. You would think that by now I would know just what to say. I find that in these times sometimes prayer and presence is more important than having the right words. We pray together and thank the Lord that his injuries didn’t appear to be more serious than they were and that we trusted Him in the midst of the unknown. A few minutes later my brother is wheeled in. He’s banged up a bit and in quite a bit of pain. He hasn’t received any pain meds until they rule out any internal bleeding. The scan comes back: some broken ribs and punctured lung, he’s going to have to stay overnight for observation and he’s going to hurt-but should be okay. There’s relief as it sinks in that in light of the situation it is no more serious than it is. Now time for me to move on with the rest of my day.

Before getting back to Hickory Tavern, I get a phone call about another one of my flock. One of my guys is about to receive bad news from the doctor and the family is gathering to let him know. In just a matter of weeks we have watched as the strength and mobility has been quickly taken by my friend.  First his speech was garbled, now he cannot talk. He has lost movement on his right side. Now he has trouble walking. The doctor has recommended the family call Hospice in. I’m on my way. This one hurts. We all shed tears as the news is shared and it is not good. We pray. I search my Bible and find Psalm 91. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. . .” Do we need the Almighty right now. We have prayed for months that God would heal him. Today it things look hopeless-but our hope is in the Lord. Even if death is near, death is not the end for the believer, it is only a door.

It’s now lunchtime. I head home to hug my girls and kiss my wife.

After lunch it’s time to hit the road again. Another member has been at Memorial for almost a week. It’s a 35 mile drive one-way down a long stretch of road. I tune in to listen to Rush Limbaugh pontificate on the Republican primaries. Not even the golden mic of the EIB network can keep me from zoning out. It has been an emotional day and its only half over. I park in my usual spot and take my usual route to the elevators. I walk in with a few other visitors who hit the button for the 5th floor. I don’t have to stop at the desk because I was just here to see her a few days ago and I know right where to go. My church member is in the bed, the doctors still aren’t sure what’s ailing her. It doesn’t take long and she’s got me laughing. She’s speaking truth to me: God is in control! She’s in the hospital and is more concerned with the other two that I visited already today. A nurse sticks her head in the door and needs to do something. I place my hand on her head and we pray together. We pray for her and we pray for our church. I say Amen and its time to go.

I drive the long stretch back home, counting down the miles. When I pull in the driveway I’m emotionally drained. I crash on the couch with my two princesses playing around me. I know that I can’t carry the burdens of my church family alone. He has to carry the burden.

It was definitely not how I thought I would spend a Monday-but I would not trade it for anything.

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