She starts confidently down the aisle to the rear of the sanctuary. Her steps are quick and her face is eager. Just as she reaches the row where I am seated her steps falter and she slows to a stop. This first time visitor looks back to the front of the church where her parents are seated and then toward the double doors that lead out to Children’s Church. Indecision is written all over her little face. Her choices are clear: return to the safety of her parents or press on to an unknown adventure. As other children jostle past her I can see her resolve crumbling. I am just getting ready to go to her aid when something better happens; Sarah comes sailing down the aisle.
Sarah. Every Sunday I watch her as she comes down the center aisle as the children are dismissed to Children’s Church. Sometimes her face is like a thundercloud, dark and stormy, and I can only imagine what a parent or older sibling has just whispered in her ear. On occasion she walks with a friend. Sometimes she skips. I have seen her walk slowly as she intently studies papers held in her sturdy little hands. Today she walks with head held high and a look of determination on her face as she marches down the aisle.
As she nears the place where the young visitor has stranded herself, she instantly seems to grasp what is happening. Without breaking stride, she takes the visitor’s hand and continues on her way. Without a backward glance from either of them, they make their way out of the sanctuary. Tears and sadness averted! I settle back in my seat shaking my head with amazement. Kids are wonderful. Would that we had more Sarah’s in our world!
I immediately think of the time Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, the One called alongside to help. I love the image of the Holy Spirit at my side, not towering over me shaking a condemning finger, but rather, walking alongside me, seeing what I see, entering my world.
As imitators of God, we need to do the same thing. We need eyes, like Sarah’s, to see what others are seeing and help them navigate uncertain pathways. I think Paul summed it up perfectly when he said, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4
As we prepare to enter a new year ask yourself, “Am I willing to take the time to walk alongside someone who needs a helping hand? A listening ear? A comforting hug?”
Did you ask? What was your answer? And what is it that you plan to do?