A few years ago we were at a Sunday morning church service at a large church. We were seated on the far side of the congregation. During the middle of the service someone on the opposite far side of the congregation had some type of medical emergency, possibly the onset of a heart attack. There was some commotion and movement going on and very soon the EMT's arrived to assist, treat, and transport the new patient to the hospital. Throughout this time it appeared that the pastor's personal policy or the church's policy was to keep disruptions like this contained to that small area and to not let it interrupt the entire service. I think the pastor may have said something like, "There is a medical situation that is being handled by emergency personnel." And then he went right back to preaching his message. He never missed a beat. Laurie and I looked at each other and said, "Shouldn't we all be praying for this person as a church family?!?!" I understand and appreciate the idea of the "The Show Must Go On" mentality, but this isn't the same as having audio problems or even a rare heckler yelling. This is someone's life and welfare. And we aren't a Broadway Play; we are the church! If one hurts, we all hurt. Didn't Jesus constantly stop His messages for medical emergencies and disruptions in order to heal the sick and to respond to the skeptics. Are we that focused on the objective that we can't stop to pray for an urgent, immediate, and possibly life threatening need of someone who came to our church? Certainly we can chew gum and walk at the same time. How long would a prayer have taken? Two minutes? Five minutes at the most?
This past week we were running nonstop adventure tours on the opposite side of the country while our family and friends were staring eye to eye with a category 4 hurricane. We rarely had time to even watch the news as our days were filled with jam packed agendas and our lives were captivated by amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. But still our hearts and minds were preoccupied with our family and friends back home. At the very least, we were going to pause our message and nightly agenda in order to pray for their needs and situation. So, instead of sticking to our nightly Bible message, each of our participants and staff picked specific needs to pray over for those facing the hurricane. We took time to intercede for the potential victims. The next day we continued on with our daily agenda and full schedule, but we never stopped thinking about, following the news alerts about, or praying about and for those caught in the path of this massive storm. We chewed gum and walked at the same time. We wish we could have done more physically, but sometimes you have to watch from a distance and pray. Our thoughts and prayers continue in the aftermath.