As I drove into the rest stop and parked near the Restrooms building, my attention was drawn to a man sitting on a stone wall, in between the men’s and the women’s bath rooms.
It wasn’t him that really caught my attention. Yes, his shirt was buttoned unevenly but who of us has not done that at some time in our life?
What drew, and captivated my attention, was the tattered cardboard sign he held in front of him. In large, uneven, block letters made by a wide black felt pen were the words: “I’m barely surviving.” He went on to briefly “bless” veterans but the primary message was, “I’m barely surviving.”
Inwardly I prayed for guidance. What do I do in this situation? It didn’t seem to be a setting where you just drop a coin in a hat or pan and then walk off. The situation and the impact on me seemed rather to urge me towards making connection with him in some way. But, how?
Solution! Go use the restroom first and see if I had more direction when I came back out!
The impression continued that I should make connection with him in some way. Continuing to pray as I walked towards him, still sitting on the wall and holding his sign, the thought that bombarded me was how this related to how we often live as Christians. We appear to be barely surviving in our lives. How could that be? Yet, I was reminded of the times when we whine, complain, etc.
Jesus said He came to bring us Abundant Life and yet we can so easily live with a tattered sign in front of us saying, “Barely Surviving.” Ouch, Ouch. What is that all about? Why would we do that? Maybe it happens, when like Peter trying to walk on the water, we take our eyes off of Jesus and instead look at the waves around us.
Back to the man with the sign. As I approached this man, I wondered if he knows the Lord and so I asked him. He said that yes, he knows the Lord and prays, but feels confused in his life. I had a Bible along I would have given him but he indicated he didn’t need it.
His energy appeared to focus on negatives in his life, seeing others as neglecting him and causing him problems. I could think of various things that he could use his energy for but that was not my business. Rather, I felt directed to look at how easy it is for us to live with our own signs of “Barely surviving”.
This year, due to Lyn having had complete left hip replacement two weeks prior, neither of us were able to take part in TD activities. What did I learn about the Women’s Weekend when I checked in with various persons? It depended widely on who I asked. If that person was a positive person in her life, I received a positive report about how wonderful it was. If the person I asked was one who tends to have more negative responses to other issues in life, the weekend did not sound nearly as positive. So, was it the weekend? Or was it how the individual perceived it? Was it survival or abundance?
What sign do you, do I, carry? Barely surviving or Abundance? How do others observe us? What message do we give?
Remember Jesus’ promise, “I am come that you might have life, and life more abundant.”
Spiritual Director Jeanie Hershey