“And love, by its very nature, always reaches out.’
David G. Benner
In my former church I often watched Kevin, an eight year old boy go around the church emptying trash cans into a large plastic trash bag. I looked forward to those evenings when he would come after school to the church to help his mother, our sexton, with her work. He was always pleasant, with a large beautiful smile that was occasionally punctuated with a near breathless excitement to share with me something he experienced that day in school. Kevin and I became friends and he would always brighten the day when he showed up with his mother.
His mother, a single mother of two young children, worked hard to provide for her family. The church provided her with ‘flex-time’ so that she could meet the needs of her elementary-aged children and complete her responsibilities for the church. This occasionally meant that she would have to pick her children up from school and bring them to church as she completed that day’s work. What fascinated me was that all she asked her children to do at the church was their school work. Yet, Kevin was compelled to help mom with her work in some way. The vacuum cleaner was larger than he was so that didn’t work. The soap dispensers in the bathrooms were out of his reach so that wasn’t a possibility. And there was no way she, being a responsible mother, would let Kevin near dangerous cleaning chemicals. What remained was emptying trash cans.
My fascination was Kevin’s unmistakable love for his mother. He adored her. And love, suggests David Benner, by its very nature, always reaches out. As Kevin “dwelt” in his mother’s love and his love for her, he could not help but to be caught up in his mother’s work. He participated in his mother’s work according to manner that he was equipped and had ability. He emptied trash cans and did so with sheer delight.
Kevin is an inspiration to me. When I become weary by endless church committee meetings and have listened to innumerable people who always seem to know how to do my job better, Kevin reminds me that I am loved by God, and that I have been invited by that God to be “caught-up” in God’s work in the world. When I remember this, the spring in my step returns and once again I experience delight as a pastor, a pastor that serves our Lord in the manner in which I have been equipped and in which I have ability.