The Care of Souls
One of the benefits of being a kid is the prerogative of exploration. Cookie jars, bedroom drawers, photo albums, it doesn’t matter to a kid, everything that might hold something is worth an adventure. My great aunt had a word for it. It’s a word I don’t hear used any more really, but it’s an accurate word for a kid who is making himself too at home in someone else’s house. The word is “meddlin’” as in “Dale Beaver are you back there meddlin’ in my drawers!?” I can hear that inquisition as fresh in my head today as I did when I was a child. I also learned quickly that it’s not “meddlin’” if you simply ask for permission to explore. So, I’m asking. Can I have permission to “meddle” in your business for just a moment? If not, you can stop reading, and I’ll go right back to sitting on your couch where I can be seen and engaged at your discretion. If I can meddle for a moment, then read on. I promise to stay within appropriate limits.
Let me begin meddlin’ this way: Are you staying too informed? Are you watching the news and Facebook so frequently that you’re an emotional wreck? Personally, I deleted Facebook over a year ago, and have just let go of what was formerly a tremendous resource for information and laughter. Yes, I deleted Twitter from my phone. I’m not saying that I will never look at Facebook or Twitter again, but I’m done with them for the foreseeable future. Why? Because I just stayed frustrated and angry with people, most of whom were folks who I’d never met, in a place I’d never visit, with ideas I would probably never accept.
The 24 hour news cycle, I discovered a long time ago, was doing me the same way. The programming has become so sensationalized for the purpose of keeping us engaged in the “around the clock” bombardment that stories are generated and served before facts can be checked and completeness guaranteed. If you are engaged continuously, you discover many times that you have become worked-up over something untrue and logged in to give your opinion on something that wasn’t even an issue. Good grief!!
So what happened to me after I unplugged from this technological circus? I was surprised by what caught my attention first. I began to notice all of the good things happening around me in the most simple yet sacrificial of ways. I began to notice the caregivers and those in their care, young and old. I began to pray more for the number of folks, especially within our church, who are being cared for by a child, sibling or spouse. And I began to admire deeply those who were giving that care.
My heart’s desire is to preach the word each week in a way that exalts the triune God and His salvation. To those who are being saved, it is obviously the message of grace and mercy. And yet, to those who know the Lord and give care in His name to another, I pray that it is equally a message of energizing hope and perseverance. Preaching, praising, praying, and the protection of those who cannot help themselves all flow from the ministry of what the Puritans once called the care of souls.
If you are reading this as a caregiver, please know that I was raised by a mom and dad who modeled this for me by caring for their parents. My younger brother, who left this world an invalid all of his life but joyful, also taught me much about what is most important for living. If you are a caregiver, may you find the joy of the Lord from the precious relationship you share with Him and the one you protect. The care of souls is a reciprocating ministry entirely. That’s the beauty of a life impacted not by relentless information and analysis but with involvement in the lives of those we can affect through service.
This kind of shift in focus on what we care about, I realize, would be a big step for some of us, and yet, we could all begin looking for the signs of opportunity to do so in smaller ways. This began with me by increasing the limits of outside influences and hubris I can’t really affect. For some of you, this disconnection will bring a great challenge. You might not even realize how difficult it will be. You might want to make an even smaller change. Go back to watching the Weather Channel or poaching alligators. Both are safer than an uninterrupted flow of social media and the news cycle. I know, I know. I hear it. “Dale Beaver, are you in there meddlin’?” I’ll go back to the couch now.