My Little Flock

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. — 1 Corinthians 12:26 NLT

I call them “my little flock.” 

They are a small group of believers, numbering at most twenty-five, who comprise a local congregation who look to me as their pastor.

I said I wasn’t. “I’m a Christian speaker and writer,” I insisted. 

My qualifications do not include training in ministry. I’m not ordained, not certified as a lay speaker or lay minister.

I just love them.

And I love delving into Scripture, preparing a message for Sunday’s sermon, and then delivering it to them. I so want to see them grow in their faith—to increasingly know, love, and serve the God I know, love, and serve (2 Peter 3:18). I want to help them not only grow, but also experience the joy of their faith (Philippians 1:25 NLT). 

My husband, who sits in the back pew, times my sermons and waves his cell phone when it’s time to begin winding down, told me I’m a pulpit pounder. I didn’t believe him until one Sunday I found myself pounding the pulpit. 

I was first called to fill their pulpit ten years ago when they’d begun to search for a fulltime pastor. The quest took a year and a half, during which time I fell in love with them. Then, after another year and a half, I was called again to fill the pulpit when they lost their pastor. After all, how can a church of twenty-five faithful members support a fulltime pastor with benefits?

So I said yes, I’ll prepare weekly worship services, “but I’m not a pastor.”

I look out over the congregation on Sunday mornings, and I see my little, hurting flock. Some have undergone recent cataract and back surgery. Some are waiting for surgery or treatment. One dear lady was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, another woman deals with her ailments day-by-day, moment by moment. There isn’t much doctors can do about her condition. Still others grapple with long-term illnesses and caregiving. 

And then there’s grief.  I conducted my second funeral service in as many months that first year. 

I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect the sorrow I felt.

I thought all I had to do was prepare Sunday services and occasionally make hospital visits. I didn’t expect all they are dealing with. I feel overwhelmed at times by their pain, and I don’t know how to ease it.

Except love them. And pray for them.

Perhaps the life-pain was there before, and I just didn’t see it. 

Maybe as my heart has opened more and more, so have my eyes. 

For when they hurt, I hurt.

They are my little flock, and I love them.

And maybe that’s what being a pastor is all about.

Dear God, I feel so inadequate to shepherd these wonderful people, to apply Your salve to their life-wounds. Remind me to empty myself of me and to let You minister to them through me. Remind me You are the balm to their pain, and You are the light in the darkness of difficult times, Your promises are what give hope when the situation seems hopeless. Remind me You are their true Shepherd. Shepherd them through me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 12:12–27.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Listmaker

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay 

O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  – Psalm 63:1

Whenever my daughter, Jaime, and her family drove from South Carolina for an extended family visit, this mama and grandma got in gear weeks before, making my all-important lists: housecleaning lists, grocery lists, lists of deadlines and other writing-related work that needed to be completed before and during her stay. 

My plan was to have only one list while she’s here, with only one item: “enjoy the chaos and the fun.” 

In the rush to get everything done, I skipped my daily quiet time. I gulped my morning hot tea as I flit from chore to chore. It was iced tea by the time I finished it. 

But the more I crossed off my lists, the more frenzied I became. Whatever happened to my “slow down, pace myself, and enjoy life” philosophy?

It was gone with an earthquake, wind, and fire of my own making. 

“I miss you, God,” I whispered one morning, ignoring the urge to grab my Bible and my cup of tea and head to the back deck and leave behind the list of devotional readings and prayer lists so it would be just me and God. 

But I couldn’t. 

Lists – do they serve me – or do I serve them?

Jesus was crazy busy too. But the Son of God took time out to go on a mountain or to a quiet place like a garden before the crowds showed up, before the disciples stirred from their beds on the ground, before the world awakened. He took no devotional books with Him, not even a scroll of Scripture. It was just Jesus and God. In communion with each other. Talking and listening. 

Why do I think I need anything more than me when I approach God?

Because I feel naked without my lists. I hide from Him behind my Scripture reading for the day, behind the devotionals written by others, behind the lists of prayer requests. I rush through the readings, checking them off the quiet time list so I can get to that all-important work list. 

I can face the earthquake, the wind, and the fire, but I’m afraid of the whisper. 

But I feel empty. It’s like gulping a cup of tea without taking time to savor its essence and inhale its aroma. Or shoving food in my mouth and swallowing without tasting each unique flavor that begs to be enjoyed. 

My friend Kathy Bolduc takes her Bible, her journal, and her cup of tea to a place where she can be alone and observe God in creation around her. Then she reads a portion of Scripture slowly, savoring every word, meditating on God’s message and how it applies to her. 

If a hectic schedule or fatigue causes her to miss a day, she doesn’t have the stress of a catch-up list. She simply meets with the God who is waiting for her. 

He’s waiting for me, too. 

Give me the courage to shed the lists that I hide behind, Lord. Only then will I hear Your whisper. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 63:1–8; 1 Kings 19:8–13

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.