By -, Feb 8 2019 03:10PM
She was bent almost double, a product of her older age. It was clear that the hill she was walking up was more of a challenge to her than maybe it once had been in her youth. I was late for dinner after a long day at work. I knew that dinner was likely to be cold by the time I got home, so was shuffling faster than usual toward my car parked nearby. As I overtook this elderly lady, she stopped in the middle of the path and I heard her loud, laboured breathing coming in gasps. This woman was really struggling to get up this hill.
I slowed my shuffle to a stop, aware that the winter afternoon had given way to an early evening and I, in my winter coat and hoodie, looked like a ne'er-do-well thug than someone offering kindness. I said “Evening! Is everything ok?” and waited a second, half expecting to be ignore or simply brushed off in that courteous non-committal sort of way. But she responded with, “Actually,... This bag of shopping is really heavy for me. Do you think we could share the load? I only live just up the road.” As I said, I had dinner waiting for me, and was already more than 10 minutes later than the time I had told my wife I’d be home. To top it off, this lady’s walk was at least 60% slower than mine, but I knew all of these thoughts were trying to silence the elbow of God giving me a solid nudge in this lady’s direction. I prayed that God would communicate an apology to my wife and that I was on my way, but that He needed me where I was right then and there.
All these conclusions happened in about 3 seconds as I came beside the woman. I asked how she would like me to help her and she suggested that I take one handle of her shopping bag and she would take the other. With this lady’s stoop, she was substantially shorter than I am, therefore, I carried the weight of her shopping, while she just held on. I took the walk very gently, more like you would expect of an evening stroll beside a canal. It was actually fairly pleasant. We chatted about where I came from as my accent gave away that I was foreign. She asked about where I lived now and what brought me to Frome. I told her the area I lived in and she asked if I knew this person or that person, all of whom were neighbours I knew to some degree. As we got to her front door some five minutes later, which was only a few hundred yards from where I’d met her, I helped her up her steps and handing her the bag of shopping, wished her well as she closed the door. I then walk/ran double-time to my car and continued on my journey to my increasingly cooling dinner.
What was actually happening here? I was going from one place to another and saw someone struggling. Though it could have been seen as an inconvenience, I took the opportunity to observe this person as if the table was turned and I was the one, stooped and struggling up the hill on the way to my home. I offered my help. She took a chance in accepting my offer of help, but it paid off. I didn’t take her “burden” from her, leaving her with the unsettled feeling that I may run off with her shopping at any moment. I carried it with her, at her pace, allowing my speed to adjust to her speed so that she wasn’t rushed and in worse condition than when she’d met me.
This is what Jesus does with us. He knows we struggle. You’d have to be blind not to see it. He knew we move slower than Him, so he slowed down to meet our pace. He offered to carry our burden so long as we are willing to hand it to Him. And He moves with us on our uphill journey back home.
I always felt a little unsure about the famous “Footsteps” quote that can be found on so many framed postcards in people’s bathrooms. My apprehension is that I feel that the well known short story removes my responsibility and my ownership of the walk He is leading me on, of His discipling of me. I would love the story to end that I look back at the trail of footsteps to see my own footsteps settled neatly within the footsteps of Jesus, with the realisation that I’d made it because He was with me throughout the journey.
I know this won’t speak everyone’s language, but my experience with the elderly lady just a few months ago has stuck with me. It’s as though God wanted me to “get” something that He’s been trying to tell me for ages. He is WITH us through everything, just as we must be WITH others through everything.
Psalm 34:19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Isaiah 43:2a & 5a 2 When you pass through the waters,I will be with you… 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you...
I realise that I’ve been less regular in writing weekly reflections. This is not entirely unintentional. In writing less frequently, I hope to make reading my reflections less tiresome. It also gives me much needed head-space to put to studying. I trust that if you’ve been praying for God’s calling on me up till now, you’ll continue to do so even if I’ve not written any prayer requests.
After a long weekend of snow last friday, I’m back at Frome College this week! PLEASE continue to pray for these times. I’m spending a lot of time with some challenging lads. Pray for wisdom and understanding, for eyes to see what God needs me to do and say in these times, for openings to be able to show God’s love or to represent Jesus in this place to these young people.
And thank you for continuing to pray for the Mentoring sessions I’ve been having. These boys desperately need more healthy examples of what it is to be a man of integrity. Come to think of it, the girls also need that example.
Town Missions Work, Hope Frome
This week is a HOPE Coffee Van Week! Pray for the volunteers and visitors, that God would bring the right people to have the deep discussions that He is orchestrating. Pray that we would be open to the gentle nudging of the Spirit to be with the people we meet and to recognise that we’re not there to “fix” them, just to walk alongside them through whatever life may throw up at them.
We’re only weeks away from the FROME INDEPENDENT MARKET on 3 March, where the Hope OASIS will be available as a restful place where people can get a drink of water and sit and relax. This is meant to be a place of peace for visitors, but it’s also a platform for Christ followers to share God’s love in a practical way. Please continue to pray for this and other initiatives to be with the greater community of Frome.
Church Youth Work
This week, SUNDAY CAFE is ON! We’ll be having a games night with some retro playstations and Nintendo Wii’s!! We will have the following week off to give families a chance to go on holiday through the half term break.
PLEASE PRAY FOR TRINITY’S YOUTH MINISTRY! The Youth Ministry team are looking at how we might better serve the teenagers & tweenagers of Trinity Church and be more inclusive of the whole of the community of Frome. BUT we desperately need God’s wisdom for renewed vision and new life from this ministry. If you are a parent of a teen or tween and you would like to join us in prayer and discussion, please contact me (Bryce) by email.
I’m continuing to be bewildered by what God is communicating to me through my training with CMS. While I’m between modules for a little while now, I’ll be putting together a portfolio evidencing learning from the last module, which was on Mission and Evangelism.
Much of what I reflected on above was inspired by what I’ve been reading and realising about my own walk and the call God has on each of us as followers of Christ.
More on that soon!
Thank you for your continued prayer, encouragement and support through this training!