22 April 2006

Showing Up

This evening I had the great pleasure of conversing with my father.  The weather is spectacular and sitting outside, sipping a strawberry shake, swapping stories with my dad is truly a recipe for contentment in my book.

During the course of our conversation we wandering onto the topic of maintaining relationships. My pop has always been a model of the christian life for me, and in his outreach and ministry this is especially true.  As far back as I can remember he has given of his time to visit the sick, the needy, even those in jail.  At one, time he was one of the few anywhere with the necessary clearance to witness to maximum security offenders in the federal prisons. His willingness to invest in others with his time isn't just central to his being, it's foundational to how he views The Walk.

One particular hospital visit made an indelible mark on my life. While attending a man who suffered a particularly painful illness I was left to visit with him as my dad stepped into the next room continuing his rounds.  The man waved me close and imparted to me the reason so many people enjoyed my dad's visits.  The words he said still resound in my ears from time to time, "Your dad knows when to come.  But more importantly he also knows when to go." Before then, I'd always wondered how these people shared such a connection with my father in the short time they spent with him each week. Those words were just the smallest glimpse into how my father Walks.

This evening, I got to share with my father a conversation I'd had the previous weekend with a friend I hadn't seen in a while.  I'd been on a whirlwind tour visiting friends that I wished I could spend more time with.  One in particular just casually mentioned that it wasn't necessary to see everyone. Which got me a little worked up I must admit. You see, I put particular priority on visiting my friends. Not just email and phone calls, but actually Showing Up.  Being there, live and in-person to share and fellowship. These things are vital to me in a way not easy to explain.  To my friend, I bumbled and fumbled but more or less got my point across or so I thought.  My dad, understood right away.

This evening my father told me another story. This story was about an elder who used to come to his Sunday morning group with the number of people he had called that week.  An elder who still wasn't being effective, because he wasn't Showing Up.  As my father put it, you can share significant news on the phone if you must.  But you can't share a significant moment that way.

This evening my father told me another story. This story was about one of the many people who have shared with my dad during their final hours in this life.  They seek him out, they speak with him, they reveal their fears and ask their questions. Because while they lived and walked and wandered, he continued to Show Up.  He gave a little of himself to each of them. Consistently. He Showed Up.

Even now, the biggest misunderstandings I face are from those who question my sincerity in servitude.  They reserve commitment in their hearts and with their time. They just can't comprehend the value of Showing Up.  It may take until the end of their life, but one day perhaps consistency will show the sincerity and simplicity within me.  Not for me, and not by my strength.  In spite of me and for His glory alone.

Until then, and like my dad, I'll just have to do my best to keep Showing Up.

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