It was Sunday morning as I headed up the aisle toward my seat; my husband who always arrives first, was waiting. I settled in and prepared for the rest of my family to appear. You know how it is, pleasantries, and visiting all around.
Our pew is usually the fifth or sixth row from the front, to the left of the pulpit, and just behind the area to which the youth gravitate. My daughter has worked with the youth forever in different capacities, thus our seat location. It is not an assigned place or set in stone, but it is the area where friends know to scan to make sure we lived through the week, a harmless pastime of elderly.
The seats are upholstered and there is plenty of leg room. Those times when we are packed in they are still comfortable. I Love the people around me, they are faithfully seated in the same spots too; we feel we are the “west- side” community of the church. These are the people I most intimately pray for, many have well known needs.
In recent weeks there has been immeasurable grief in the pews around me; the young family whose father is in the process of a slow anguish filled death, yet, he is here each Sunday, when he possibly can make it, getting his soul fuel with his family including his handicapped son who is both physically and mentally impaired. So many more: a new widow with two special needs children ~ one who may have to be institutionalized again, an elderly couple existing in pain and facing difficult medical decisions, a young mother whose son is recovering slowly from a critical life changing operation, a dear man who has lived most of his adult life in deep depression; the list goes on.
It is a well-known fact that on each pew there are hundreds of private critical needs, cling to Jesus needs, imperative needs due to living in an imperfect world.
This morning across the aisle sat the very young mother who is always in attendance with her husband and child and their new born baby. This day she was alone holding the baby on her lap; at the closing invitation from the pastor, she went to him crying soft tears, but was soon sobbing aloud. Her private needs were bared. Life, as she has known it has been suddenly and unexpectedly shattered; her foundations are unraveling, in the company of her church family ~ as time held its breath ~ as she wept in anguish.
As heartbreaking and public as her despair was, it called our church together in a moment of “forgetting self”; we stood captured ~ by her torn soul ~ at our pews, praying as one, on her behalf. Her sorrow drove away the callousness (of being caught up in our own concerns, and “I shouldn’t interfere” hesitations) we display when we ignore or do not attend to the hurts and sorrows of others.
I have a new resolve in my heart to take the time to pray on each Lord’s Day ~ for those on my pew, the ones in front, behind and to each side before the service starts ~ and perhaps offer comfort when directed by a tug in my heart that is delivered by the Holy Spirit. Just as I pray when needs are made known, I will pray for unspoken desires; first for “spiritual needs,” then for “life needs,” those private struggles, the ones mentioned only to the Lord. I don’t need to know what or why, I need only to pray…
My prayer for you is that you may have still more love ~ a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight. I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God.
*Psalm 34:18 Holman Christian Standard Bible
** Philippians 1:9-12 J.B. Phillips New Testament