The rain just kept coming. It set the tone for my disposition. It was just plain gloomy – fog, rain, and gray skies. We were about to travel to
Carolina to move my father’s home into storage. All along the ride – and for weeks beforehand
– I had prayed, “Lord, I cannot do this. The house is a mess. It isn’t move
ready. There are pieces of furniture that require several people, and there’s
no way Luz and I can do it. We’ve got a
deadline. We can’t do it. But we have to do it. Lord, show us how and
make a way for us.” Daily, for weeks I had prayed this prayer. The task seemed overwhelming, if not just
plain impossible. As I prayed, I worried
about what we faced though worry isn't an appropriate response to trouble for a
Christian who trusts the Lord. Worry was
a constant companion as I just couldn't see a solution to the challenge we
faced. Nevertheless, duty called and we prepared.
When we arrived, the situation was as challenging as I remembered it; lots of stuff – none of it move ready. The “stuff” not only included heavy furniture but volumes of paperwork that had not been sorted and several pockets of storage that had been exposed to the elements and ruined, yet still required sorting because of the importance of some of the contents. I stared at the job and wondered, “How?” God’s answer was straightforward. “With the love and help of your friends.”
Proverbs says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” The catch is, one cannot experience the truth of this verse until a time of critical need arises. Just at the point I thought, “We’ll do what we can and leave behind what we must”, the friends and brothers kicked in. Old friends, newer friends and those sent by dear friends who knew of our situation showed up to help us. We had a jack of all trades to guide us, 8 paratroopers and an Airborne Chaplain to do heavy lifting. We had trusted lifelong friends who heard about our plight come alongside to sort through sensitive things and to give us support and speed in our sorting duties. Other provided meals, ran errands and held watch as we had to run errands. I was amazed as our friends carried us through the tedious process of moving, sorting, storing, giving and discarding. They stood strong when we grew weak, and they carried on whenever we faltered. When emotions overwhelmed, they persevered and gave us the strength we didn't ourselves possess. When I was convinced we couldn’t get everything done, these ‘angels’ refused to leave our sides and remained faithful in their help until the last item was moved and the last piece of debris was thrown out. The end result… our mission was accomplished, our minds were relived and our hearts are now at peace!
Our situation was a strong reminder for me of the basic principle that God has created us to live in the context of relationships. No matter how strong we may believe we are or how independently and self-sufficiently we may attempt to live our lives, all of us have been created to build friendships, treasure relationships and to journey shoulder to shoulder with others that we may enjoy mutual blessing, encouragement and support. However, one necessary and sometimes challenging piece to receiving the blessing of such help is to allow oneself to be humbled and to have the willingness to be vulnerable at one’s point of need. I had to practice what I preach in this regard and to allow my neediness to show. My self-exposure didn't so much show my weaknesses as much as it empowered those who love me to help. By being open I was able to hear and feel the prayers on my behalf. Because I was open I was able to accept the love shown to me. Because I was open, I saw God’s glory in the helping hands that lifted us up when we didn't possess the strength to lift ourselves.
I’m still in awe of the outpouring of love we received and the practical way in which it was manifested in our time of need. Our friends simply refused to abandon us and literally walked us through a trial that had the potential to knock us down flat. I want to call each of you to link your lives with others who can walk by your side through the trials and challenges of life and provide you with the opportunity to both give and receive love, support and encouragement. As I spend the days recovering from our ordeal, I am glad that part of my days are also filled with times to reflect on the precious friends with whom I have been blessed and on the wonderful benefit I've received in seeing the fruit of our friendships come to such a sweet juncture. I got by with a lot of help from my friends. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Until Next time…