Last week I heard Mario, one of the elder statesmen of campus ministry at FSU, tell a story about an interaction that he had with one of the former pastors of University Lutheran. Laughingly he tells of being a new campus minister at FSU and making the rounds from ministry to ministry, introducing himself. Apparently when Mario arrived at University Lutheran, he started walking through the halls saying “hello? hello? anyone here?” And what he got in response was an invective “GO AWAY!” from deep within University Lutheran. “I was so scared,” Mario said, “that I just turned and ran away.”
Nobody knows what was happening that day and what had prompted the “GO AWAY!” to be yelled. Mario did say that afterwards he was able to meet the campus minister at University Lutheran and got along with him fine. All sorts of things happen in our lives. Sometimes, we might even understand someone yelling “GO AWAY!” We may even want to do it ourselves. Let’s face it, sometimes other people complicate our situations, and it is tempting for us to think that life would just be better if we were on our own.
I’m having one of those days. Every text that comes in, every drop in visitor, every email, every time the phone rings, and every social media message that I’m “tagged” in – they just grate on me. Maybe it’s because I have a cold. I have to pull from way deep down to find a civilized response, a forced smile, and try not to judge the person too harshly. And I’d be ashamed of admitting this if I wasn’t quite sure that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes we just have “GO AWAY!” days.
Thankfully, most of my days aren’t like this. Most days I’m happy to see people, to read what they write, to consider their ideas, and to smile honestly. But I’m not perfect. Only Jesus was perfect, and that is VERY good news.
Even on our GO AWAY! days, Jesus responds “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11). Because that’s what we’re saying when we say “GO AWAY”, we’re saying “I need to rest” under our breath. Jesus is saying to you, “Come here,” not “go away,” but “Come here, and I will give you rest.”
So maybe for the rest of the day I’ll do my best to hear Jesus’ “Come here” and have it drown out my “GO AWAY!”