Preparation is Everything

Pastoring is the bomb.

And I am so glad that pastoring is more than preaching. Don’t get me wrong, I love to preach but pastoring allows you to spend your life with the highest and greatest creation of God – people.

Today busy demanding lives require the pastor to be focused on the “here and now” moments of people’s life. Right? How to sin less, love more, thrive in marriage, raise kids, and deal with finances. Please know this is not a negative aspect of pastoring, rather, just the life of a pastor. In essence a pastor spends many hours helping and equipping people to live in the complexity of life and a sin stained world.

This week, out of nowhere, I was reminded that pastoring is also about preparing people to die. You know death is that ugly, gnarly beast that chases down everyone. Potions, pills and practices of the ancients may help extend life, but one-out-of-one  people who breath die.  This week, I  meet a sweet young women in a hospital room (who is not long for this world due to cancer.) Whether it be weeks, or mere days, her hour is coming rather quickly.

In her hospital room I was able to share with her the story of Jesus and Lazarus from John 11. In the midst of the death of Mary and Martha’s brother, Jesus said,

“Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:23-26

What a crazy, amazing promise from Jesus, “though you die, yet shall you live.” The death conquering King tells us there really is a way to prepare to die. Faith in Christ alone is a salvation that prepares you for all eternity. As the women I met stared at me, I asked her, “Do you believe this?” (Having lost her ability to speak she worked hard in other ways to communicate with a smile, she absolutely believes this. She is ready. She is prepared to experience her best day ever when she will take her first breath of the celestial rarified air of Heaven.

Just when I thought my job was done this young lady caught my attention and expressed her desire to be baptized! She wanted to make a public profession of her faith before she left this world.  It was my privilege to baptize her right there in her hospital bed. My tribe of Christianity practices dunking the person under water for baptism, but that afternoon a hospital glass filled with water served as her Jordan River.

As I drove back to my office I was reminded again that what makes pastoring so special and so exciting is the fact that you get to partner with Christ in preparing people to not only live for Him but to die in Him.

All in all, a pretty fantastic week for this pastor.

Oh, by the way, let me ask you what Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”