Though Ben is an orthopedic surgeon, I had to learn my husband is a public servant first and foremost. I know what it is like to have phone calls at 2 in the morning, on every holiday of the year, and on a rare day off. I know what it means to live life conjoined to a telephone and how family plans can evaporate like droplets in the sun. I know how sometimes the ring of the phone sounds grim like a ball and chain. I know what it is like to wish for temporary deafness. Being one of the sadder and wiser wives, I also know that loss of hearing would only delay the inevitable. People must be heard and people must be treated. There is a hurting world at our doorstep.
Understood. Frankly, it was a high improbability to be assigned a new unlisted phone number which the man of the house was so sought after. Yet, we came to possess by "accident" a special number that many desperate people dial hoping to reach that special someone, the Pastor.
It breaks my heart to listen to message after message.
"My brother passed away unexpectedly, I wanted to see if you could do the funeral service. Please call me back."
Though still recovering from childhood phone phobia, I did call them back and left a message on their machine to let the person know their pastor no longer had this number. I didn't want them to feel abandoned in their grief.
Death after death rings our phone. We have more funeral requests than weddings. Life is sad for the pastor's sheep that can't find their earthly shepherd. The church's recording supposedly gives out our phone number. The congregants are starting to wonder why the pastor is never in. I spoke to one raspy-voiced lady three times on the phone telling her this was not the pastor's home, she called back twenty more times over the next two weeks.
A man with a voice like a sad violin confided on our machine, "I am having some big problems. Going through a tough time, and I need to talk to you."
Sometimes, callers just assume that I am Peggy, the pastor's wife, and start telling me that maybe we should send flowers to so and so. I get calls from travellers at motels. I get calls from other pastors with foreign accents. This pastor was well-connected, but remains elusive.
I have come to see how every pastor is a public servant first and foremost, like my Ben. The similarities go on, a pastor is a binder of the broken, a defender of the weak, an authority in his field, a listening ear and a provider of counsel to diminish pain and suffering. Likewise, me thinks a pastor is most contacted after office hours.
Isn't it God's sense of humor to give us a pastor's number, so both phones can be ringing at once. As Ben tends to his patients, I wonder if I am suppose to have a praying ministry with these strangers on the phone that leave haunting cries for help. After all, under the new covenant, every single Christians is commissioned as "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)
So if you call our house and ask to speak to the pastor, maybe one of these days I will say, "He's not here, but can I pray for you?"
10 hours ago