Day 6: Pastoral excellence

Matthew 25:39-40
1.jpgWhen did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? Then the King will reply to them, “I assure you that when you have done it for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.”

It was 1998. My family’s life had taken a dramatic turn the summer of ’96 when I answered the call of God to become a pastor. Friendships were forming for my son in his new high school, and life was going well, though, as family adjustments were being made. We had slowly moved into our new family “normal.”

Then, my son came home from school one afternoon telling me that he had heard that a friend of his from his old school had been arrested for murder. He asked me to go visit him in Juvenile Detention. We were about to enter into a new world.

Murder was something one might see on TV or in the movies, but certainly was not a part of our lives. My son continued to press me to find time to go and visit his friend. Several weeks later, my son came to me with a letter that he had written. I wept as I read my 16-year-old son’s letter to his friend. He shared in the letter about the freedom that he could find in his heart and life through repenting of his sins and asking Jesus Christ to be His Lord and Savior.

One day, sitting outside the chaplain’s office at the prison, while reading to my son’s friend from Romans, chapter eight, I found myself overcome with deep emotion as I shared with him how much Jesus loved him. I began weeping, while feeling an indescribable love well up in my heart for this young man. I, then, realized that God was pouring out His love “through” me to him. We were both deeply moved that day by the power of God’s love at work in and through us.

Fifteen years later, while he still sits unjustly behind prison bars, I can honestly say that nothing has impacted me more deeply in life than the love that God deposited into our hearts that day. “Jesus loves us this I know, for the Bible tells us so!”

Is there anything greater than love? I think not. We read in I John that God is love. May we walk in no other authority than in the authority of God’s love!

Prayer: Lord, teach us how to love well. Give us your heart for others, so that we might serve with excellence the sheep of your pastures.

The Rev. Dr. Diana M. DeWitt
Chairperson, Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

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Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

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4 Comments on “Day 6: Pastoral excellence”

  1. Daryl Byford says:

    Your quote “God is Love” spoke to my heart. I have repeated this so many times to my children as they grew, and to professed nonbelievers. Thank you for sharing this meditation.

  2. dusty roberts says:

    The beginning of the passage hit home. My daughter was in the hospital for give days and out pastor Jerry Wallace and John Arnold visited or room. I stayed with her at the hospital and my husband went home and had to work. Anna my daughter is so special to so many people and they proved that with FUMC and all our members they prayers for us for healing spirit body and soul. True to the word they showed so much love we had comfort when or own blood family didn’t even call. Thank you my Lord and savior for such love. Dusty

  3. James Cole says:

    Much appreciated Rev. Dewitt. Beautiful meditation!

  4. Rev Jackie Clevenger says:

    Dear Diana ~ thank you for sharing these words this morning. Your gift of presence to that young man was, and remains, a blessing to both of you. I reached for Bishop Joe Pennel’s little blue book on my shelf, “The Gift of Presence. . a Guide to Helping Those Who Suffer” – what a treasure! I find it a good reminder of why we go to the side of the sick and suffering ~~ “ministering to those who are suffering does not mean that we understand all there is to know about suffering or have all the ‘answers,” because suffering is, at best, an intangible mystery. It simply means that we are present to those who suffer so that they might not suffer alone.” Diana, you have God’s love – and mine as well.