The Ministry of Light Time

“You can’t solve the world’s problems, you know.”

If I burned a calorie every time someone said that to me, I wouldn’t be allowed on the runways of Europe.

Has anyone ever said that to you? If so, you’ve probably made some effort to touch another life with kindness, resources, or help.

It’s strange how often when someone sets out to make a difference in another’s life, how many other people jump in to discourage them from trying.

Why is that?

It’s painfully true that none of us can solve the world’s problems but we can make a much bigger difference than most people imagine.

Some thirty years ago, a friend gave me a gift that continues to feed my soul.

I was just out of college, holding down a job, and leading a church youth group. It seemed like I was always running and so were the people around me.

Then, I had to have a minor surgery. No big deal. Outpatient. But, enough of a deal that I didn’t feel up to caring for myself that afternoon. The problem was that everyone I knew was far away or working or busy.

My friend, Barb, called and found me crying. She cancelled all of her plans for the rest of the day, came to my apartment, and was just there for me. I don’t remember a single detail of what we did or what we talked about but I won’t ever forget how desperate I was for someone to be there and how amazing it was that someone was.

It was a simple act of kindness but it warms my heart still, thirty years later.

I just spent the past five years working in a gym at the Y listening to people as they workout. I spent hours doing nothing more than that – just listening to people talk about their day, their interests, their goals, their concerns. I wasn’t a therapist or a psychiatrist – more like a bartender in the workout room – but I saw what it meant to people that someone had time to listen.

One day, one of our regular workout members collapsed of sudden cardiac death on the gym floor. The staff performed CPR and, using the AED, brought him back to life. I only arrived in time to ride with him to the hospital. When we got there, he told the medical staff I was family. (I did, in fact, know his entire medical history!)

As the nurses began to work on him, I tried to excuse myself. “No! Don’t leave me, please.” He protested. Grabbing my hand, he said, “Please, Lori. I don’t want to be alone. Just stay with me until my son arrives.”

I did nothing special. The doctors and nurses had what he needed, really, but I had something he needed, too – my time, my presence, my friendship.

God has taught me over and over these past few years how powerful it is to spend time, just be there for others.

In my new job, helping families in crisis, I’m repeatedly stunned at the effect a simple, calm conversation can have on a very serious situation. When I just read the details of a case, I think, I have nothing to offer this family in the way of a solution.

But then, sitting and listening to them, asking questions as they talk about their needs and their hopes, something amazing happens.

Their problems aren’t solved and many troubles still loom but the power of knowing someone has heard them and will keep listening until they find solutions is truly incredible.

No, we can’t solve the world’s problems but we can be there with them, spending time, listening, lightening the load, showing the love of Jesus. It doesn’t take higher education or brilliant insight or super-intellect. It just takes a heart that beats in time to the Lord and a willingness to let time go lightly.

When Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came to visit him, he spent time watching Moses at work. He was appalled to see Moses working alone to judge all the Israelite’s disputes. Jethro told him he was going to wear himself out trying to do this work alone.

How good it was for someone to be there for Moses. How good it was for others to come alongside him in the work.

One of my favorite old Harry Chapin songs had this chorus: “I let time go lightly when I’m here with you; I let time go lightly when the day is through. I keep a watch on time when I’ve got work to do; I let time go lightly with you.”

It’s a special ministry these day, the ministry of light time. Can you do it? Can you be there for someone else with your ears, your time, and your heart?

God with us.

He came to be with us – I’m sure He wants us to be with one another.

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1 Comment

    The Conversation

  1. I loved your post. I think listening is a lost art. It might be the speed that this world is flying by but I think we need to stand back and help other when ever we get the chance. You never know what touching others will mean to them. You are such a blessing Lori, now God bless you.

    Glenda Parker