Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friendship and Family

My friend Jim Murcray is still fighting for his life.  He has been in ICU for over three weeks now, as today is Day 25.  We have been in the waiting room with family and friends every single day, with brief visits into the room to talk out loud to Jim even though he does not respond.

I just want to express how wonderful it is to receive notes of love and encouragement throughout these days.  Many people do not have a network of friends and loved ones who will verbally affirm them in times of crisis.  And that is sad.

As I have sat in the small ICU waiting room of the Kaiser Riverside hospital, I have seen dozens of individuals who have come in because of an emergency now happening in the lives of their family members.  Some are devastated and feel there is no hope.  Some are lonely and frightened.  Some are brave but unemotional.  Some are strong and hopeful.

God has given an open door for me to talk with many during these days.  How amazing it has been to be able to share love, compassion and prayer with those we have only known for a few brief moments. 

It continues to point out that humanity is hurting everywhere, while the church sits idly by.  So far, I can only recall one pastor who has come by to visit his church member in this time frame of almost a month.  Yes, there are chaplains that are there in the hospital.  But they cannot do it all.  And, may I humbly add (even as a pastor myself), there are some who do not look favorably upon a chaplain or pastor here in our secular state of California.  And, some would point out that it is the paid duty of a chaplain to have an agenda to say words of comfort to the hurting, which is not fair to the chaplains and pastors who genuinely have a heart for those in distress because of the love of Jesus.

But, the reality is that those who find themselves in crisis times of hurt and pain need someone they trust.  And, guess what?  Trust is not immediately felt with a stranger who comes in with a badge that says "Chaplain."  However, trust is built up immediately between individuals who are going through the same thing.  As we sit in the waiting room, we initiate conversation with those who come in.  We talk about the condition or reason that brought their loved ones in.  One thing leads to another, and a friendship has been established.  We have had small talk, chit chat, restaurant talk, family talk, church talk but, more importantly, talks that have depth and emotion.

We pray together, we hug together, we weep together.

I, as a pastor, cannot have that immediate rapport with some simply because I am a preacher.  They will only be drawn and find comfort in someone who is experiencing their kind of pain as well.  I thank God he has given me an open door of opportunity to give a witness of my hope and strength and love because of Jesus.

I am a missionary today.  I have been sent on mission to those in the ICU waiting room of Kaiser Riverside.

I am grateful for a host of friends and family who write and call and let me know they are part of this journey of seeing what God will do in the life of Jim Murcray.  Family and friends are so important.

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