WALKING through the car park I held back tears. An event had just impacted me – an event I was drawn up into – one that swept me up in its current and took me, for a while, downstream. And it lasted all of fifteen fleeting yet eternal seconds.
Picture this scene, at a bustling café, adjacent to a busy road. Here’s the story:
SHEER terror at the realisation that his mother had left him, the six-year-old tore past me, bellowing “Mummy, Mummy… ” out of the café complex, heading for the road. He being hysterical, I could not be sure he would stop short of the traffic, so I ran the fifty feet between us, shouting “It’s okay, I will help you find her.” He stopped and turned and appeared instantly relieved. I invited him to take my hand and he did. As the fear subsided and he began wiping his tears, there was still a great air of doubt in him. We walked straight back into the café, at which point a staff member handed me my coffee. I quickly debriefed the staff member and went on my way.
Then something much unexpected happened. I began to well up with tears. Suddenly it occurred to me that the boy I had just helped was a caricature of me. Many times as a six-year-old myself I’d be worried for my safety without Mum or Dad around me. Then God showed me the scene out of the Passion of the Christ (2004) movie – where childhood Jesus was picked up by his mother Mary having fallen. I guess part of my emotion was also garnered by the acknowledgement of the potential consequences if the boy had kept on running onto the road. And another reason I was emotional is I was in the right place and right time – I was the right person – to intervene on this occasion.
Several observations are possible:
• God places us in situations where we are the only ones who can help. What a privilege it is to serve God when he selects us like that.
• Emotions are bound to creep up on us when something very significant occurs. We are graced with the strength to partake of the emotion yet restrain the excess so we aren’t disabled because of the emotion.
• Moments that imply great emotion speak to our inner core. It is so nice that I know that I was an insecure boy who needed his parents so much. That is no truth to be ashamed of.
• If I were his parent I would never scold him in his fear. His fear is appropriate. What could be worse than losing a parent or feeling abandoned?
• I had just been praying for the staff member who I released the boy to. She had no idea and I had no idea why I should be praying for her, but God, who knows all, goes before us all. My hope is she gave the boy the same safety as I was trying to give him.
• There is no better means of attaching importance to our lives than by being in a God-anointed place at a God-appointed time. I was there for this boy’s time. I was there, in the right place, to do God’s eternal will for that moment. Instant purpose for life.
A 15-second time period is long enough to change our lives. God speaks in a moment. His momentary revelations may last a lifetime. But to be touched by God is to know he is real. And by being touched many times, the Christian knows and is blessed.
Much can happen in a moment and moments can carry us a very long way.