Shepherdess: Why the Pastor Hurried

It seemed such a lovely Sabbath to spoil by letting routine duties crowd out family. What difference would a few minutes make?

Anahid Benzatyan writes from Redlands, California. Her husband is an associate pastor of the Loma Linda Campus Hill church.

Immediately following the church service, my husband was in an unusually great hurry to get home and have his dinner.

It's true we were a little later than normal because of celebrating the communion service, but we expected that. On communion Sabbath I always seem to feel the presence of angels and the closeness of Heaven in a special way as I search my heart and ask the Lord to cleanse any impurity that would interfere with my taking the bread and wine. The testimonies and other features peculiar to this special Sabbath take extra time, but they all add to the unique quality of such a sacred service.

Knowing, however, that my husband was in a hurry, I quickly put the food into the oven to heat the moment we reached home. The table had been set the night before. We were waiting only for the food to be warmed, which would take less than a half hour, but my husband insisted he had to eat right away.

"I must take the communion service to a lady in the hospital who has specifically asked that I come this afternoon," he explained.

"But," I protested, "today has been such a special day. We don't have any visitors to eat dinner with us. Let's relax and enjoy our meal together. Sabbath is the only day the children can enjoy having you here, so please don't rush. Just wait a few minutes, and we can all eat together. Then you can go."

"No," he answered, "just give me some bread and cheese. I must go right away."

"There's no hurry. Why don't you let the lady have her own dinner? Then she might take a little nap. You have all afternoon to take Communion to her." But nothing I said seemed to make any difference.

By this time he had already asked the blessing and was starting to eat the bread on the table. Giving a sigh, I reluctantly took the cheese from the refrigerator, along with some other ready-to-eat items. I watched him somewhat sadly as he ate, but at the same time I admired his consecration. At other times I might have continued to argue, but now it was as if I were tongue-tied. Soon he was gone with the communion box in his hand.

I knew the woman he was so eager to visit. She was a cancer patient. Baptized at the age of 14, she had turned her back on the Lord for many years. Recently she had returned fully to the Lord and to the church. Too sick to enter the baptismal pool, she had been accepted into church membership on her profession of faith. Today would be her first Communion since rejoining the church.

But why couldn't he at least have eaten dinner with us? I thought.

My husband returned home late that afternoon with satisfaction in his eyes. Just as we sat down to have our supper the phone rang. The hospital wanted him to come immediately! The same woman to whom he had served Communion a few hours before had taken a nap only minutes after he had left. She didn't wake up.

O Lord, how mysterious are Your ways, I thought as my husband left his meal for the second time that day. I know that not even one leaf will fall without Your will. What if, for my own selfish reasons, I had insisted that my husband not go right away? What if he had waited a few more hours? Dear Lord, give me more of the spirit of sacrifice and self-denial—the same spirit that You demonstrated on Calvary and that we celebrate in the communion service.


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Anahid Benzatyan writes from Redlands, California. Her husband is an associate pastor of the Loma Linda Campus Hill church.

February 1981

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