Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Holding Hands

Firsts are thrilling.  Sharing a first with loved ones is sweeter, still.  I shared my first call to pastoral ministry with my wife and our children at University Baptist Church.  We came to the church together, holding hands and excited about the future.

Holding hands can show unity and mutual appreciation; love.  My wife held my hand as we watched seminary training work in our favor.  Our children held my hands as we toured our new mid-Michigan surroundings.  We held hands in freshly discovered parks; on Sunday mornings that first year of preaching; around the dinner table in prayer in a larger home.   We held hands because that's what you do when you're happy.

The congregation held hands each week in prayer.  We held hands to open and close meetings in prayer.  Couples preparing for marriage were encouraged to hold hands during counseling sessions.  I held the hands of mourning women and men as their loved ones were remembered.  I shook and held neighbors' hands while inviting them to church.  When they came, I was thrilled to hold their hands in the receiving line after worship.  Firsts are thrilling.

Firsts are followed.  Marginal returns on what follows firsts aren't as sweet.  The first "they need me" telephone call isn't like the ones that follow.  Sometimes you have to let go of the hands you're holding to take the call.  Family time interrupted by crisis isn't so dutifully surrendered by an adoring family, after the first time.  Chuck Swindoll quips there is precious little in the ministry that will feed your family but much that will foil.
Urias Beverly

Precious little is the time around the table as children age and schedules tug.  Fatigue foils plans to fan marital flames.  If I'm not careful, I'll buy the lie that holding hands slows me down.  I can't work the keyboard as quickly if I'm holding hands.  I won't be able to respond to the texts if I'm holding hands.  Is it really safe to be on the telephone and drive while holding hands?  Urias Beverly, through The Places You'll Go, reminded me that my job is to make sure the family is holding my hands when I'm finished.

When I'm finished getting the mileage out of graduate training, will they want to hold my hand?  When I've sent the mourning to the arms of family members and friends, will they be interested in welcoming me?  When I turn in the keys and deactivate the smart phone, will they still want to lock their fingers with my stilled fingers?

Firsts become lasts.  Whatever we start, we finish; not always the way we want but we will finish.  Ungracefully; clumsily; swiftly; regretfully; joyously we finish.  My hope and sincere desire is to finish this first calling the way I started: holding hands.  I want to hold my wife's hand with good work in our wake.  I want to hold the children's hands with hope for their future.  I want to hold the people's hands in a God-authored benediction of peace and blessing.  In this my first call, I am thrilled to see what follows.

My sincere desire is to keep holding hands.

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