You Had to Be There – Were You?


So, I spent this week-end being with other people.

Friday, a service to celebrate the life of my friend, Diane, who died two weeks ago.

Saturday, the wedding of my friend, Jean, in her seventies and still reinventing herself, open to new adventures and new love.

Sunday , worship service and then a birthday party for my mother.

Sunday night, hours in the emergency room with my husband finding out that he has pneumonia.

It was a week-end of being with.

I missed some things to attend all these events with others. I didn’t make much progress revising my novel. I didn’t sit on my deck enjoying the beautiful weather. I didn’t read or watch any movies. I fell behind in cleaning, paperwork and sleep.

I had conversations with more than one person who chose not to attend either the memorial, the wedding or worship service.

“Those kinds of events aren’t really my thing.”

“I can’t deal with being with people.”

“No one will miss me. I’ve got things to do.”

“That’s not really my scene.”

“I couldn’t find a good reason why I should be there.”

Truth be told, I could happily live the life of a monk. I thrive on long hours of solitude. I’ve got books to read and to write. But I’ve learned from watching Jesus that the most important way we can minister to others is to show up in their lives.

In fact, in preparation for Jesus’ birth, Joseph has a dream and the Lord says to him, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” -which means, “God with us.”

God WITH us.

How vital it is that He is WITH us. And when Jesus walked the earth, He walked with us. He attended weddings, deaths, and parties. He showed up for dinner. He showed up at the bedside of the sick and the tombs of the dead.

Jesus was WITH us so often, His critics accused Him of too much partying “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”Matthew 11:18-19a

There are thousands of reasons NOT to get together. We don’t know what to say. We’ve got nothing to offer. We can’t dance. We’re uncomfortable with others. We’re clumsy. We’re busy. We have no wisdom. We’re going through a tough time. Other people drive us crazy. We bore easily. We hate formalities. We hate crowds. There’s a game on TV. It’s too intense for us. We can’t handle it.

The truth is, though, that if we want to follow Christ, we must follow Him right into the midst of the crowd.

The crowd may be dancing in the street or marching in a funeral procession or holding vigil for a sick child or worshipping or waiting in the ER or just sharing a meal but the crowd needs Jesus and we carry His spirit within us so we need to be WITH them so He can do His work through us.

Time alone with God is vital. Jesus set that example, too. He spent hours alone with God early in the mornings or sometimes all night. But, then, He dove right into the messy, muddled midst of our lives, rolled up His sleeves and got involved WITH us.

Bette Midler sings a song about some god who watches “From a Distance”. Jesus isn’t that God. Jesus is Immanuel – God WITH us.

So, I really, really can’t dance and somewhere out there now there is video to prove that but I danced this week-end with friends who had cried the night before and who gathered to celebrate the night after. We were together in grief and together in joy. We danced like fools but we showed up for each other. And Jesus wept with us and danced with us and waited with us in the ER.

“You had to be there” is more than just a popular saying; it’s a call to live like Jesus – a lifestyle of being with.


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8 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Eileen says:

    Please know that our prayers are with you and Rob. Please wish your Mom Happy Birthday for me. Love ya, Eileen

  2. Thanks for the prayers, Eileen. And I’ll let my mom know! Love ya, right back. Lori

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the awesome blog! Keep us posted on how Rob is doing and if you need anything. Love, Patty

  4. It was great to see you so much in one week-end, Patty. Thanks for “being there”. Love you, too.

  5. Andrea says:

    Amen..I, too could be a hermit or live the life of a munk, but we “must” show up and be attentive in others lives. We must be living vessels for our LORD.
    Blessings and prayers,
    Andrea

    PS: Urgent prayer request on my blogs for a fellow blogger

  6. It can be a tough balance for any of us. Showing up at every event will just wear us out. The secret really is in Jesus’ lifestyle of getting off alone with God every day – and it seems to me He spent hours at it, not fifteen minutes. This is where He found His strength to handle being with us through everything else!

  7. Bethany says:

    It seems lately that I have spent more time with Jesus and less time WITH. Perhaps out of selfish needs or perhaps not to burden those I felt I had left behind….left behind through no purposeful act, but through circumstance. Grateful to you Lori for having brought me back to HIM who has held me up through it all. Now I need to come back to being WITH.

    Love, Bethany

  8. To everything there is a season, baby. Sometimes we all drop out for while. Welcome back.