Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Front Pew View

We had just finished singing an upbeat worship song, led by the praise team.  The worship leader introduced the next song which was one of slower tempo and tender words.  I turned my head to gauge the expression on my pastor's face as I often do throughout the Sunday morning service.  

Worshiping beside my pastor Man year after year, hymn after praise song, is one of the most special experiences that God, in His Great Generosity, has allowed me.  It's also a very humbling one.  I stand between the children and their dad and chirp away at the hymn or chorus being sung.  Sometimes I lean over to one child or another to whisper my appreciation for the current music.  Sometimes, while my mouth is making the words to the song, my mind is appreciating a choir member's nice hair-do, or the worship leader's perfectly matched necklace.  

During these mental vacations, I begin to wonder what my Man is thinking.  I glance to my right and look up into his face. Rarely does he notice me looking toward him.  Rarely is he noticing anything at all.  Most of the time, he is absorbed in the music and the moments of worship.  Sometimes, his head is bowed, I assume in prayer for the sermon which is to come, or, more accurately, in prayer for the one who is about to deliver the sermon which is to come.  Every now and then, if his head is not bowed and his eyes are not closed, I'll lean over and tell him something, or remind him of some little thing or other.

This Sunday, however, as I turned toward my man, he wasn't there.  Rather, he wasn't where I expected him to be.  I quickly lowered my gaze to find him bent over tying his shoe.  "Tripping over your shoe lace would be a terrible way to begin a sermon," I thought.  Then his attention shifted to his other shoe and untied and retied its laces.  My mind flashed to the myriad times I had seen athletes perform the same action, just as they were about to take the court or the field.

Grinning, I thought through the parallel picture presenting itself in my thoughts.  My Man, like many others of his calling across the nation that Sunday morning, was preparing to "take the court".  His shoe laces were the last, if smallest, detail needing tending.  

I realize that the athletes I see running up and down fields and courts begin preparing for the task at hand long before the tying of the shoestrings.  They must eat right, practice well, know their sport, and stay mentally sharp.  The best athletes also bring their passion for their sport to the court with them.  Often this passion drives them to pay meticulous attention to the smallest details of their games, like making sure that something as trivial as a shoelace doesn't cause them to stumble at the very moment they are called into action.

I've been thinking a lot about my Man's shoelaces this week.  A book of prayers entitled, Prayers of an Excellent Wife by Andrew Case has come into my possession recently.  This indeed is a beautiful book, both in cover and in practice, though I've not been much in practice lately.  In a random moment the other day I opened my prayer book to page 16 and read the prayer thereon...
Precious Provider,
Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.  May my husband keep them also.  The unfolding of Your word gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.  May he open his mouth and pant, because he longs for Your commandments.  Turn to him and be gracious to him, as is Your way with those who love Your name.
Keep steady his steps according to Your promise, let no iniquity get dominion over him.  Redeem him from man's oppression, that he may keep Your precepts.  Make Your face shine upon him, Your faithful servant, and teach him Your statutes...(Psalm 119).
I would like to think that after living with this pastor Man of mine day in and day out for the last 15 years, I have understood the hefty responsibility he carries with him each and every Sunday morning.  Lately though, it occurs to me that while I do witness the hours of sermon preparation, the aggravation of fighting clock and calendar, the joy of an "outline" coming together, and the weekly fit of nerves, I have not a clue of the weight of the responsibility of communicating God's Word to God's people.

What I do have a clue about is how to pray for my Man, thanks to my new prayer book of course, but mostly thanks to the picture of him bent to the task of tying his shoes before taking the court.  Bent in preparation before rising to handle the Word of Truth. 

My Man is not alone in his passion for preaching God's Word.  Pastors worldwide will be bending in preparation and rising to be faithful to their callings this Sunday morning and for many Sunday mornings yet to come. 

I want to be faithful too, faithful to take seriously the Word that is preached and faithful to be in serious prayer for the one who is to preach it--right down to his shoe strings.


Anonymous said...

Amen. We are so thankful for committed pastors like him. Thanks for the reminder to pray for him. Janet

G'ma suz said...

What a sweet post. You are a good wife among many other great qualities. In my "tub time" this morning I was reading from Matthew and truly thought of Darrin as I read the last part of
5:19 ". . . but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Love to you all, MOM

Lori said...

What a beautiful testimony Gretchen. Not only are you blessed to be able to experience life with Darrin ... He is equally blessed to live life with you by his side! Love to you both. Miss you like crazy!! Lori

Rick said...

Gretchen, if it was possible, this needs sent to all who witness what you do each week. What a wonderful testimony.

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