Standby or stand by. “Standby” and “stand by” reflect very different ideas.
To “standby” as someone struggles is quite different than to “stand by” in the same circumstance. “Standby” connotes waiting, not being involved, ambivalence, and hesitation. To standby as someone flounders in a pool, or hurries to cross a street before the walk light blinks off, is not to offer aid. “Stand by” connotes being present with, movement, involvement, quick decision-making, and a crisp, helpful, response.
“Standby” is a passenger’s status when a flight is overbooked. Standby implies waiting. Bystanders standby and watch as events unfold; which is fine when waiting for a parade, and not fine when a brawl erupts on the street corner. “Stand by” connotes an attitude of friendship, concern for a stranger, a ready willingness to be a good Samaritan, and the idea that “I shall stand by you.”
I shall stand by you. I shall be with you. I shall listen to you. I shall love you. I shall be present to you in your time of need. I shall act on your behalf. I shall not watch from the wings. I am with you. “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” That is the last sentence in Matthew’s gospel (28.20). It is on the lips of the resurrected Jesus.
None of us is the Christ. All of us are human. Being faithfully present to another person enriches both lives.
Standing by another human being is not easy all the time. Reticence holds us back from stepping forward, and from asking for help. Yet when standing by someone is urgently required, what shall we do?
Standing by, standing alongside, and being with someone are signs of a resurrected life, for both persons.
Rev Jim Sinclair
Pastor Jim is the minister for First United Baptist Church