"Christ ... is at the right hand of God ... interceding for us." (Romans 8:34, TNIV)
"... the Spirit ... intercedes for us ..." (Romans 8:26, TNIV)
"I have food to eat that you know nothing about." (John 4:32, TNIV)
I had an experience last night that I won't describe to protect the confidentiality of others involved. But it reminded me of a similar experience of several years ago. In both instances I had got a chance to help someone.
Some years back I got a call at about 11:30 at night. A close friend of Charlie (not his real name) was at his house helping to take care of him. Charlie is dead now. He died several months after the night that I received this call. He was a church member and he was in very poor health. Charlie was on the toilet and he was so weak that he couldn't get up, I was told. I said that I was on my way. As I went to my car, I called Mike (not his real name), another church member and a deacon. Charlie was a very big man--over 300 pounds. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get him off the toilet by myself.
At Charlie's house, Mike and I could see that this would be no simple operation. The bathroom that Charlie was trapped in was very small and there was no room for two guys to get in there and left him. But something else was apparent. It wasn't just that Charlie was weak, he was suffering some sort of episode. He was out of it. I called 911.
When the paramedics arrived they were also at a loss as to how to get Charlie off the toilet. After a few moments, I developed a strategy of positioning a bed sheet in a certain way under Charlie such that it would support his weight, allowing four of us to lift him, two on each side. We tried it and it worked. Moments later, Charlie was in the rescue squad and on his way to the hospital.
It never was determined what sort of episode Charlie was having that night. The next day in the hospital he was lucid again. He had no memory of the experience of the night before but his friend told him about what Mike and I did. Charlie thanked me profusely and he said that Mike and I were working for Jesus when we lifted him off that toilet.
This morning I read today's selection in Oswald Chambers' classic daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. In the reading Chambers connects intercession with worship. Using the two verses from Romans above he makes the case that, because intercession is continual act of Jesus and of the Spirit, it should be a vital part of the life of Christ-followers.
Intercession is typically linked to prayer. But is prayer the only way that we intercede for others in the name of the Lord? Is service on behalf of those in need a form of intercession?
Last Sunday I preached on the the account of Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well in John 4. Christ helped the woman at the well--he served her. After the experience he indicated to the disciples that this act of service fed his soul (John 4:32).
Acts of service are seldom convenient. Regularly we cannot see the positive results of service immediately as in the case of successfully lifting a weak man from a toilet and onto a gurney. Sometimes those we serve are not thankful like Charlie was. But, no matter the circumstances, when we fail to intercede in service to assist others I think we miss wonderful opportunities to feed our souls.