Monday, November 13, 2017

Diffusing a volatile situation

Friday evening my wife and I found ourselves right in the middle of a volatile and potentially violent domestic dispute. This dispute was between two people we'd  never met before but somehow while minding our own business we were pulled into the middle of this dispute. I can't go into the details of the situation but while the two were separated, my wife was talking to the woman involved and I went to give something back to the man that the woman had with her. From his demeanor and language I could tell he was more than upset before I ever got close to him. As I approached him I could tell he was not going to calm down anytime soon. I tried my best to talk to him and get him to calm down. After a few tense minutes of not knowing how things would go, he decided to leave. As he started to leave I told him I was a pastor and that I would be praying for him. I was surprised at how the simple words that I would be praying for him tossed a tremendous amount of water on a volatile fire. Although he did not leave before doing some more yelling and cursing at the lady, when he finally left I hoped I was done with the situation short of praying for him and the lady. 

Often times we tell people we will be praying for them and that is the extent of it. We say the words and never go through the process of actually interceding for the person. We talk a good game. We sound real religious but our actions don't line up. Only when we see the person again do we whisper a silent prayer for them as we're reaching out our hand so we can say we've been praying for them. It is like an old comic strip that showed a pastor thinking "Here comes Bob. Oh I forgot to pray for him. Lord bless Bob." Then the next strip shows the pastor shaking Bob's hand while letting Bob know he'd been praying for him. We see on social media, like Facebook, where someone shares a concern or problem, while requesting prayer. People "Like" or use an emoji in response or even comment "Praying." But how often do we click the buttons and continue scrolling without pausing to pray. Many times we have good intentions of praying for a person but it just doesn't get done. We're busy with our own lives and things slip through the cracks, including praying for others. The best advice I can give you on this topic is some advice an old, wise pastor once shared with me. Simply put, he said if you tell someone you will pray for them, then do it right then and there. Don't put it off because you could forget. As long as the situation lends itself to you praying for that person in the moment then do so. Not only will you keep your word but you will touch the heart of the person you are praying over.

On Saturday, as I went through my day, I regularly prayed for different aspects of the situation we were pulled into on Friday evening. I prayed for the couple and have prayed for them from time to time since then. On Saturday afternoon the man caught up with me and apologized for the way he had acted and the things he'd said in front of me and my wife. He said the situation had caused him to act in a way that was out of character for him. Then he said something several times that got my attention. He told me he appreciated the fact that I was praying for him. I thought my comment the night before had landed on deaf ears, especially after the way the night ended. We never know how our prayers or our offer to pray for someone will impact a situation or impact a person's life. So if you say you will pray for someone, be sure to do it. You never know how it may impact their life.

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