It had been a long time since I had seen that kind of love. My parents had it—that look that passed between them that made us kids know we didn’t have to worry about a divorce ever happening in our family. Now I was witnessing it between our pastors and listening to that kind of love being taught to our congregation.
Because I served as the church secretary, I was around in all kinds of situations; I knew what went on, you might say, behind the scenes. True love, a God-given love, is really impossible to hide. It just kind of bubbles over into every situation. We’ve all heard about the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). I had witnessed their lives produce whatever fruit was needed to remedy any situation that came up in any given day. They didn’t just talk it; they lived it.
The past two weeks had been extremely hard for both of them. Pastor Kimberly was with her critically ill mother in Jackson, Mississippi and Pastor Ron was taking care of us, their church family, in Gassville, AR.
Because of having a medical background and being good friends, Pastor Kimberly and I kept in touch through the long two weeks she found herself traveling through. Her mother had been found after being unconscious for forty-eight hours and put on life support. She was off of life support, but had open wounds on her hips, back, and inner thighs and private areas, with diarrhea occurring every thirty minutes. It made it impossible for the nursing staff to get to her mother as quickly as she needed. She had learned the skills needed to help clean her mother’s wounds, clean her up, and change the bed around-the-clock for the past two weeks. It is hard to watch someone you love suffer so much pain. It grieves your heart to hear them cry in pain and have nothing more that can be done by man. The experience drains you in every way possible. It’s then that you truly realize how much you depend on God and His power to intervene in the impossible situations.
It’s hard for the person who’s in the middle of the battle, but it’s almost as difficult, in many ways, for the one on the sidelines; the one who wants to be there to help but circumstances refuse to release you to do as your heart cries to do. I was there. All I could do was listen to both parties and pray.
Life went on here at home. Pastor Ron handled all the ups and downs of the congregation and worked at getting the building project completed and fasted and prayed for the upcoming Revival in the Calico Correctional Center. He led us in praise and worship and shared the truth from God’s Word with us, as always. As he prayed, we heard the cry of his heart for God to cover his “baby girl” and bring her home safe to him real soon. He prayed for the healing of his mother-in-law and for the strength that his wife needed to get through this time of testing. We felt the love and compassion that lived in his heart for his helpmate, his partner, his wife, the love of his life. I heard the same cry from her heart as I talked with her on the phone.
Sunday night I heard one of the congregation ask him how long Pastor Kimberly had been gone and he answered, “It feels like 316 days and 9 hours.” I knew he had sat it out about as long as he could. It came as no surprise to me when the phone rang at 7:30 Monday morning and Pastor Ron was on the other end. “Do you know about what time you’re going over to the church today?”
“Well, I can go anytime after 10:00 a.m.” I told him.
“I need you to make the church bank deposit this morning,” he told me. I could hear the sounds of heavy traffic in the background. We lived in too small of a town for that sound to be from around here.
“May I ask where you are at the moment?” I questioned, even though I was pretty sure he was nowhere close to home.
“I’m almost to Memphis,” he replied. “I’m on my way to see my baby girl.”
I felt the tears begin to run down my cheeks. I knew he could only spend a couple of days, but she needed him and he needed her. I could envision the scene that would occur within the next four hours. They would be in each other’s arms and the tests and trials of the past few days would be put on the shelf as they just there for each other. There’s nothing more beautiful than the love that God places in your heart for the person that is there in the good and bad times. They had the real deal and we all knew it, for they lived it before us every day.