Shammah son of Agee the Hararite took his stand in a field of lentils. And the Lord brought about a great victory, even though all the Israelites had fled. (2 Samuel 23:11-12)
Sometimes being a pastor is a lonely job. Some of it is the professional isolation – no matter how close you are to the people around you, you aren’t quite as close to them as some of them would like to think. Boundaries need to be kept, after all, for everyone’s sake. But it’s more than that. Sometimes, don’t you wonder what it is you’re doing in this bean field all alone, “fighting the good fight” by yourself with nobody else around? The “rest of the Israelites have fled” – some of them to follow the latest fad in church growth, others to seek out the mighty mega-churches, others to look for the latest technological improvement in contemporary worship. Synod is restructuring and moving farther and farther away from the bean fields. And here we are, taking our lonely stand in what amounts to a field of beans.
Yes, the Lord will bring about a great victory; but there are long stretches of time where I’m just worn out, aren’t you? And someone comes along and says “keep fighting the good fight” and I just want to slap them, don’t you? My hope and my trust and my joy are in Jesus – and that’s good, because some days I don’t see it in many other places.
On the bright side, the bean field I’m in is not a bad field at all, and the battle is not (thank God!) very intense here. That leaves me freer than most of my ministry brothers and sisters to look up, cast a glance in their direction once in a while, give a shout or a wink or a nod of encouragement. Sometimes I can take a break and go have lunch with them, or leave my bean field for a little while to meet them in theirs. Maybe we can pick up swords together for a bit (or maybe just a paintbrush or a salad fork), and then go back to the fields. But I hope our brief and all-too-infrequent times together at least say to them that there’s another Shammah nearby – you’re not in it alone.
God bless us everyone!