I approached the parking lot and cruised a couple of rows before easing into a space at the very end. There were people nearly running toward the grocery store at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning. I approached the store and realized that the aisles were jammed with people. I passed a woman who was announcing to no one in particular, as she loaded her cart with bottle after bottle of wine, “I’m prepping for the hurricane”.
I grabbed a box of protein bars and rounded toward a few other essentials that I hoped to collect at this discount grocer. I came to an abrupt stop when I noticed all the checkout lanes were backed up fifteen feet. I backtracked, returning my few items to the shelves and walked next door to the office supply store.
Earlier that morning my phone began to buzz with text alerts from our daughter. She suggested the office supply as a good source of bottled water and I knew she was right. I walked into the normally calm and quite store, quickly realizing that the idea was not original with us. Not a cart was to be found, but there was water on a pallet near the door. I grabbed a couple of cases, dragging them across the store to the checkout area, where a line had formed.
With each step, I dragged my burden until I noticed the gentleman in front of me with a full-size cart containing a few cases of water. I asked if I might put my water in his cart and he agreed. After paying for the purchase, I turned to him and he asked if he might deliver the water to my car. I was touched by his kindness as we walked and discussed the frantic activity we’d just witnessed.
There is a big storm headed our way. Thanks to technology, we know a lot about the size and can even reasonably predict the timing of its arrival. While many around us are fleeing the storm, we’ve assessed our risk and have decided the best and most practical approach for our family is to ride it out.
It is no surprise that I woke this morning thinking about storms. I often consider how it must have been for the early settlers in Florida when a few clouds gathered, the wind picked up and rain began to fall. They could not have known the magnitude of what was to come.
I have faced a few significant hurricanes in over sixty years of life in Central Florida. I’m a veteran and though I’m not prone to panic, I prepare. During the preparations and throughout the storm, our family, friends and community huddle up and support one another.
All of this was on my mind as God reminded me the greatest storms I have faced had nothing to do with the weather. His voice was clear:
This, dear one. This is the reason that I have placed you in a spiritual family. When the storms come, don’t try to carry the burden alone. I flashed back to the office supply store, and saw myself dragging my burden, bent over and struggling.
This week God reminded me of a verse that I’ve heard so often used in wedding ceremonies, referring to the relationship between a husband and wife. In context, the wisdom teacher points out the advantages of companionship:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person fails, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
~ Ecclesiastes 5:9-10 NLT ~
Too often we drag our burdens in solitude; sometimes out of shame or guilt. Other times we believe the lie that no one cares. And yet he tells us to carry them for one another.
Carry each other’s burdens….
~ Galatians 6:2 NIV ~
What about the kind stranger in the office supply store? I don’t know if he would have noticed my burden as he talked on his phone. Perhaps he thought to offer, but feared I would misunderstand his kindness as being too forward.
I asked for help.
I know that Jesus is with us in the storm, but I believe that we are implored to walk the storms together. The wise writer went on to say this:
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated,
but two can stand back to back and conquer.
Three are even better… for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
~ Ecclesiastes 5:12 NLT ~
Ideally, we would be sensitive to one another’s burdens despite distractions, but life happens. What if we looked around and noticed the person with capacity to help bear our burden and we asked for help?
Praying for grace amid every storm,