Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Ministry devotion: A Tale of Two People - James 5:13

James 5:13     Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

            Yesterday morning, I was supposed to attend our quarterly Presbytery meeting which was being held at our beautiful John Knox Center. It’s always a delightful place to visit because of the wonderful scenery which surrounds the campground. However, God had other plans.

            As I was driving down the Interstate, I saw two people walking along the shoulder. Both of them were wilting under the tremendous heat of the sun. I thought that one of them was a woman and she seemed to be carrying all of her belongings in a rag bundle. After passing them, because I was in a hurry to get to Presbytery, I couldn't get the image out of my mind.

            I took the next exit and doubled back. By this time, they had stopped walking and were sitting on the metal railing in the shade. I eventually came around their way again and stopped the car on the shoulder beside them. They were relieved that someone had actually stopped.

            They hadn't eaten anything hot in two days. They were both unwashed, sunburned, and suffering from exhaustion. They had been on the road for four days and still had another six days journey ahead of them. They were heading to Arkansas but hoped to reach Nashville that day, whereas I was heading to the camp just a couple of miles up the road. As my exit came up, I decided to take them to get them breakfast and then drive them to Nashville.

            After they had eaten, I told them to go to sleep in the back of the car if they needed it. Within minutes, they were sleeping like babies. Nashville was almost a three hour drive and they slept all of the way until we reached the outskirts of the city. We stopped for coffee and lunch. I then took them to one of the biggest churches in the city, which has a large benevolence ministry. I knew that they would be well looked after. Today, they may be on a Greyhound bus traveling home. It my fervent hope and prayer that they get home quickly and safely to be with their families.

            As I drove back to Knoxville, I wondered if it had been a wasted day. I could have spent it at the Center enjoying the scenery and getting involved with a few theological tussles that us ministers like to provoke and participate in. And then I remembered the smiles on their faces when I stopped the car, as well as the laughter that we shared over lunch.

The day was not wasted; it was totally blessed.

Questions for personal reflection

What are my plans for today? Am I willing to let God’s plans change those of my own?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, help us in Church World to become part of the Real World. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a question about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings called “Emmaus Window.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link:

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