My husband and I were seated in the hallway of the hospital, waiting to visit a church member who had recently been admitted. Throngs of people were passing by, a highway of visiting adults and children, doctors in white coats and nurses in scrubs. My tired mind soon wandered, traveling to the list of things I needed to accomplish over the next few days.
My pastor-husband turned towards me.
“Would you like a lemonade while we wait?” He pointed toward Panera, which I had not seen, further down the corridor.
“That sounds good,” I said, and he left.
As people cruised by, some paused, slipping quarters or credit cards into the hospital’s vending machine. Candy bars, nuts, cinnamon rolls, granola bars, fruit gummies. Money in, tap the buttons, and presto! The result was exactly what the consumer craved.
As more people purchased snacks, pressing the machine, expecting their needs to be quickly met, I realized that lately I felt like a human vending machine.
The needs, the wants, the tell-your-husband this or that, the fix-my-life-and-make-it-snappy approach was wearing me out. It felt like a one-way deal, me pouring out energy through counseling, encouragement, and service…often unreciprocated. I was exhausted.
Closing my eyes in that busy hospital, I prayed. For strength, for grace, for patience.
And then I remembered Jesus.
In Matthew 14, when Jesus hears of the murder of his beloved John the Baptist, the Bible says:
“He (Jesus) withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
The people were pressing in, chasing Jesus. Rather than growing huffy and frustrated, he responded in compassion. And what followed? The miracle of the feeding of these 5,000 people.
As I pondered these verses, a young boy passed by and slipped a pocketful of quarters into the vending machine, choosing a cinnamon bun.
Matthew 14:19 goes on:
“…and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied.”
Jesus looked up and thanked his Heavenly Father for the small portions —five loaves and two fish—and God gave the increase, allowing him to feed 5,000 famished people.
Oh! Christ’s genuine heart, so full of compassion, healing and feeding the people, while thanking and trusting God. Even in his exhaustion and grief.
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.”
Jesus, after serving the multitudes, retreated, going away to commune with his Father.
If Jesus required solitude, in order to think and pray, how much more do we, as women married to our pastor? Jesus retreated after serving the people. He retreated out of necessity, not frustration or anger.
My husband returned, lemonade in hand. I was still weary, but somehow refreshed. God had reminded me that servant-leadership is both costly and Christlike.
It was now time to visit one of our flock, and I was ready.