Monday, February 25, 2019

Standing Too Close

Last night, after our stint at helping out at a Sunday fellowship/soup kitchen project, we drove home. It had been a busy night. The half a dozen scones that I had ear marked as take-home-leftovers – well, no chance. It was busy and it was loud. One of the regulars had hit a low spot. I’m not sure how sober he was, but life was particularly hard. Some of the other regulars were offering advice and encouragement. They reminded him of times they had been down and how he had said something or done something to help. It was his turn now to listen to them. I had the opportunity later on to pray with him quietly.

Somewhere in the conversation, one of the men said, “I’ve been where you are. I know how you feel. I climbed out of that hole. If I could do it, so can you.”

I am not sure that I agree with the bit “if I could do it, so can you.” There are so many things that other people can do that I can’t do. Not so long ago, on a forest walk, armed with my “Go Explore” cards, I discovered that I couldn’t hop. It wasn’t a matter of trying – I tried. The balance just wasn’t there. My feet refused to part company with the ground.

People are wired differently. The mental strength that one person possesses, that enables him or her to dig deep and keep moving, isn’t necessarily replicated in another person. How much is down to DNA and how much us due to environment no one knows.

The car radio was tuned to Radio 2, the go to channel when we the sport’s channel is hissing and buzzing and, anyway, there’s no football commentary to listen to at that time of night. There was a song playing. Mournful is a good word to describe it. Maybe the presenter introduced the song at the start but we were listening art way through and had no idea who was singing. Two lines caught my ear and seemed to sum up the night with the regulars.

“I’m standing too close… 
         And it’s hurting!

Perhaps my problem when it comes to that Sunday night meeting is that I can’t say to anyone “I’ve been where you are,” or “I know how you feel.” I have climbed out of my share of holes but for the most part they have been clean holes and quite shallow ones. And when it comes to climbing out – I’m not sure I’ve done that either. My friendship with God goes back a long way. He climbs down into my hole and lifts me out.

Perhaps too with that “I climbed out of the hole” there is too little of God in it. God does a lot in my life not just to lift me out the holes but to steer my life in such a way that I don’t fall down so many in the first place.

“I’m standing too close…
         And it’s hurting!

A hole opened up in front of me, kind of. I was standing too close to these regulars and I was getting hurt and I felt useless. I could make a good scone, stir up a decent bowl of soup – but I couldn’t seem to speak into their lives. I had no cred. Or so it seemed.

“Those two lines say everything that needs to be said about intercession,” said God, “If you don’t stand close enough you don’t get hurt. If you don’t get hurt you don’t pray. If you don’t pray you don’t change anything at all – and then, yes, you are useless.”

So I prayed.

And in the heavenlies something changed.

And I am not useless at all.

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