A story about how, because of God’s faithfulness, I was not abandoned. I was instead sent, supplied, and surrounded.
When I was about four years old, my dad was the most important man in my life. I can only compare my relationship with him to “Half-Pint” on Little House on the Prairie. We were inseparable. I wanted to do everything he did. We gardened, played baseball, chopped off chickens’ heads so mom could freeze them, and my favorite thing to do was go fishing with him. We lived fairly close to the Willamette River, but in order to get to the river we had to hike down a very steep and intimidating hill covered with what I thought were giant, scary trees. It felt like their branches were big arms reaching out to grab me. However, I would not let those scary arms deter me from wanting to be with dad.
One sunny day Dad swooped me up in his big arms (I used to swing on them and was amazed at his strength) and took me fishing. He understood my fears, so he put me in his Marine backpack and carried me down hills, over logs, and through the brush until we found the bank of the river. As he was taking me out of the back pack where I felt loved, safe, and protected, his words to me were, “Glen (his nickname for me…everyone had a nickname), don’t go close to the edge of the bank because it’s slippery and you could fall into the river.” I remembered his warning for a few minutes….but those rocks lying beside me kept calling my name and I couldn’t stop myself from hurling them into the river. (Which really helped dad to get the fish to bite ☹). Sure enough….into the river I went. My boots filled with water which pulled me into what felt like a big black hole, I was flailing around, and couldn’t see which way was up or down.
You are surely wondering what this story has to do with “But God.” Let me explain. After the week of helping our daughter-in-law make plans for David’s funeral, and attending to all that needed to be done, the day of the funeral finally came. It was a hard day but uplifting at the same time. Over 500 people came to pay respect to David, and I heard story after story of how he had touched their lives in some way. However, when the next day came a whole new flood of emotions overwhelmed me. I had gone from having my family intact to a family that had ceased to be complete in one week. Actually, in a matter of minutes from the time he collapsed to his death. These feelings were much like those I felt in the river as I was sinking into a dark hole, weighted down, flailing trying to upright myself, and fearful for what would happen to me. These were fears and feelings like I had never experienced before. The only word that comes to me was flailing and floundering. I had no idea how to survive at that moment.
BUT GOD……again met me with His tender mercies. He had divinely SENT, SUPPLIED, AND SURROUNDED me with exactly what I needed. I could go on for pages to tell you all that my church family, my own family, and even many who I hardly knew, did for me. What my purpose in writing this today is to share with you how important God’s command is to share one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2 says to carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. I have been a Christian for most of my life and have heard this verse many times.
However, to be the recipient of this kind of love and care will forever change how I understand Jesus’ command. Bearing one another’s burdens means to have deep sympathy and to feel one another’s pain as though their distress is yours. In our flesh this can be hard to always do, but Jesus has never commanded us to do something on our own. We have the power of the Holy Spirit in us to accomplish His will. We can develop an ability to identify the burdens of others and devote time to making that burden lighter. In some cases, this kind of love and compassion may even keep someone from being destroyed or crushed depending on the circumstances. Fulfilling the Law of Christ is fulfilling His command to love one another. Jesus showed us over and over in scripture how He cared for the downtrodden, those in grief, and those who felt hopeless. The results of the love and care I received (and still am receiving) is that I know I have not been left to plow through the dark hole of grief without help.
If you are wondering what happened when I fell in the river…….Dad scooped me up, wrapped his arms around me, kissed me, emptied my boots, and reassured me I was going to make it. This is exactly what bearing one another’s burdens will do for you or for anyone you choose to show love and kindness to. Jesus did not waste words when He spoke. If they are acted upon and obeyed, others will see a picture of Jesus who paid the ultimate sacrifice of love with His own life. We are to be that picture as we go through life here on earth.
I challenge you today to think of friends/family that may need a call, a card, a meal, or something more and act upon it. There are many people you may not know at all that need Jesus’ touch from you. Think of those struggling right now through this upside down time. Think of young adults who are aging out of foster care with nowhere to go, or those who just need a hand up. Take their burden as if it was your own. I will vouch for the results. I am able to look ahead now. Not all days are good, but I know I can reach out to these people to walk me through my thoughts, feelings, questions, and grief. Be that person for someone else. If you are the one needing help, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. The Father knows and understands what we need and that is why He has lovingly, sent, supplied, and surrounded us with each other.
May God bless you and may He be evident in your life each day.