As a caravanner of many years, I understood Christel Baxter’s Seed of the Kingdom which I read recently, relating to what we in England call the ‘jockey wheel’ on the front of a trailer or caravan (‘trailer jack’ in South Africa!). This was especially so, as the day before I read it, I had a mishap with our caravan. As I was towing it from a side road into the main road, the caravan became detached from the car, and stopped suddenly nose down across the carriageway. Fortunately, there were no vehicles close by, so I parked up and ran back to try to move the caravan. Unfortunately, it was too heavy for me and my wife to lift, as I have a shoulder problem, and the jockey wheel had bent under the impact, and couldn’t be used to push the caravan out of the way.
Whilst my wife was quietly praying “Oh God help us”, a few cars came along. The first one stopped, the driver and his lady passenger got out, and they came across to help. It turned out they’d just come from a nearby caravan site, and recognised our problem. The man literally shared the load with me, as we managed to lift the caravan front to move it off the highway. I could then reconnect it to my car, as he, the lady and my wife lifted the front off the ground. It was a bit of a challenge, but I couldn’t have moved the caravan without help from these complete strangers, who then drove off on their journey, after we’d profusely thanked them.
I was reminded forcibly of this verse above from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which I’ve seen in previous Seeds a few times. Sometimes we need to share spiritual or emotional burdens with each other, but also there are times when there’s a need for practical help. I’ve been reading Acts 28, where Paul was shipwrecked on Malta, and was struck by the way the islanders there offered practical help so Paul and his fellow travellers could continue their journey.
Jesus’ ministry showed that He was concerned for the practical as well as the spiritual in such things as the feeding miracles and the Cana wedding. At Christmas we may remember those in our communities who’re in practical need when we give out food parcels, but I wonder if we’re aware of the ordinary things which need our help in the lives of our friends at church, or our locality? It could be helping to pick the apples on a neighbours’ tree if they are elderly, or helping to connect up a new electrical appliance if that’s needed, or, even, lifting a damaged caravan into its proper place. Sharing the burdens may be more literal than we think.
Prayer: Father, thank You for those who’ve helped us with our burdens in the past. May we be aware of the practical needs of others and be ready to share the burden, before it becomes a crisis. Amen.
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