The Ministry of Presence

A little over a decade ago I was asked to mentor a high school student whose dad was the pastor of a small church.  This girl, I thought,  was a lost cause.  She was into drugs, drinking, sex, and wanted NOTHING to do with God or me.  She hung out with me because her parents forced her to, and to be totally candid, I found it discouraging to meet with her.  But I kept showing up.  I kept speaking Truth into her.  I kept encouraging her and mostly just listening.  This year she was in a fatal car accident and she passed away,  but not before getting the chance to share the impact I’d made in her life,  just by being there.

Today I read a blog by one of my previous youth group students voicing what an impact I’d made in her life too,  and there was a common thread.  You guessed it: I showed up.   I was simply present.

I never knew what to say to these girls in their darkest days, except, “I’m here.”  Not the generic,  “Call if you need me.”  But the “I’m-here-with-you.  Alongside you.  For the long haul.”  I showed up.  Availability is so incredibly important.

Friend, I want you to know this too.  You are never alone.  You don’t have to fight your darkest days alone.  I get it.  I might not know what to say,  but I get it.

I know I’m long winded tonight,  but hang in there with me for a few minutes more, because when I think about the ministry of just being present in people’s lives, I think immediately of Mary and Martha (and Jesus).  We meet them on at least two occassions in the Gospel of Luke.  First, Martha opens her home to Jesus and in the hustle and bustle of entertaining, she forgets to just be.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10: 38-42

Now, I can relate to poor Martha who is struggling to provide and practice hospitality.  Who hasn’t run around throwing piles of dirty clothes in closets and stacking dirty pans in the oven before guests arrive?  (Oh, just me?)  But Jesus applauds Mary, who sits at Jesus’ feet — a sign of humility,  service, and awe.  She isn’t rushing around,  she’s just there.  And Jesus calls it good.

We see these two women again in a different phase of life.  Their brother has died and their grief runs deep.  Four days go by before Jesus shows up,  but when He does, His course of actions are surprising.

 33 When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Before He does anything else, He weeps.  He mourns with this family whom He loves.  Before anything else, He’s just there.

Who in your life needs you to show up for them?

❤ Ashley

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