Memorable Ministry Moment #4

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, some memorable ministry moments:

The fourth moment is one that powerfully impacted me during what may be the single worst moment of my life.  On October 3, 2011, one of the world’s best brain surgeons told us that my 58-year-old father-in-law would not live much longer.  After he performed surgery, he informed us that the diagnosis (and therefore prognosis) was the worst scenario possible.  When I rode down the Johns Hopkins elevator with Steve’s wife, two daughters, and the other son-in-law, we reached the waiting room where about 15 of the most supportive friends imaginable sat waiting.  Carolyn and I couldn’t bring ourselves to go in, so we zombied our way down the hall to the chapel.  She sat down and I ran over to a trash can to throw up.  We sat there for awhile, simultaneously devastated in a nuclear-bomb-ground-zero kind of way, while also grateful for eternity to an extent I’d never experienced.  After some indeterminate amount of time (there’s no such thing as time in moments like that), we knew we had to return to the waiting room.  Upon arriving there, I collapsed into a seat as the full force of this new reality barreled me forward like a plane touching down on the runway.

Memorable Ministry Moment #4: Being held up by Dad and LJ at the weakest moment of my life.

Steve Doherty and my dad shared a first name, a granddaughter, and a completely selfless love for their children and children-in-law.  Dad had taken the day off to be with us at Hopkins.  LJ Timmons was one of Steve’s closest friends for nearly 20 years.  He spent his birthday there in that waiting room with the rest of Steve’s friends and family.

As I sat down in the seat between Dad and LJ, I lost it.  I’ve never been in a place quite like that, before or since.  It was like falling down a deep, dark hole and wanting desperately to at least drag against the sides to slow the fall, but being completely unable to do so.  Dad was on my left, LJ on my right.  They were both going through this, too, yet they were able to reach out to me.  Dad squeezed my left shoulder while LJ firmly grasped my right.  And they stayed like that for a long, long time.  While I was completely unable on my own to slow my fall, it was like those two men were pulling me back up one strenuous tug at a time.

I don’t know how long they stayed like that.  And the hard reality is that the year that still lay ahead would be hard and painful.  Even so, those two men holding me up like that at my lowest point ever was a sacrificial ministry I will always remember.

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Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 6:31 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Powerful and raw; thank you for sharing this!

  2. Hopefully not too raw…

  3. No, not too raw, just transparent honesty and love ;,)


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