Dave Brisbin | 7.15.18
I almost don’t pick up the phone; it’s been ringing all day. Just getting into work flow again and don’t recognize the number…I watch it for several rings then grudgingly tap the screen. It’s a young Marine with a fellow corpsman driving around looking for and calling churches near the base. You’re the only one to answer the phone, he says, and goes on to tell me they are being deployed the next day for the first time and just wanted someone to pray with who “knew what they were doing…” There was a moment somewhere during this exchange when all the resistance and worry about work not getting done and any other distracting thoughts fell to the floor, and I knew exactly what I was going to do, couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Do you know our address? Yes. What’s your ETA? Five minutes. Give me fifteen. What an honor to have picked up the phone, to have been at the right place and time when these two young men rode by. Jesus speaks of service, makes it a centerpiece of his ministry and worldview, and so we have made it a centerpiece of ours as well in a typically institutional way—with organizations, agendas, and mission statements. But is there another face of service to which Jesus is pointing? 

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I’ve always been puzzled by the story in John 11 of Jesus raising Lazarus back to life. Jesus’ decisions and reactions just don’t seem to track. Why did he wait two more days to travel to his friend who was sick? And if he knew he was going to raise him, why did he weep with his sister just before? I see a video where a man speaks of “shoulder taps,” moments when it seems God is directing our attention to a need right in front of us, a need eclipsing all others by mere proximity. Maybe Jesus is pointing to a more organic and seamless view of service as simply being aware and present enough, open and vulnerable enough to feel the tap—to know exactly what to do when either an unknown number or a best friend calls.

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