HELP (Updated 20/03/2007) by Bob Watson (20 March 2007)
In Pilgrims Progress John Bunyan tells the story of one man’s journey through life. He calls him “Christian” and his journey is from Earth to Heaven. He had not gone very far in his journey when he fell into a miry pit, which Bunyan aptly calls the Slough of Despond. He struggled to get free but, weighed down with an increasing heavy burden, he could not get out In fact the more he struggled the worse it became, until a person Bunyan calls “Help” comes along and says “Give me thy hand”, and draws him out.
However much well meaning advice may be given to a struggling soul, what he, or she,more often needs is just an outstretched helping hand to lift him out of his despondency and distress and help him on his way. Without that timely word of encouragement & that practical helping hand many of us, like Bunyan’s Pilgrim, would never get out on the right side of the Slough of Despond.
The journey of life can be exciting & exhilarating but, severe testing times can also come when, we too may need someone to reach out to us with a helping hand. Just as we have someone called “Help” in Pilgrims Progress so in that great chapter on the Gifts, Offices and Ministries in the Church (1 Cor.12: 14-31) we have some who have this God given essential ministry called “Helps”(ver.28). The word, “Help”, means to take hold of, support, exchange, and render strength. Where would any of us be today without those who have been “Helps” along the way? Christian met some outstanding Characters at different stages in his journey, but it was the one called “Help” who lifted him out of the Slough of Despond and helped him to travel on.
Whatever path we may have to travel through life please notice:
1) The Choice, which has to be made. All the characters in Bunyan’s story had a choice to make. Obstinate made his choice to stay where he was; Pliable to go back; Christian to go on. We too have a choice to make. First of all in relation to the salvation of our souls, then in relation to service for our Lord, and sometimes in relation to suffering. Perhaps we have been faced with such a choice but all kinds of questions, doubts and discouragements have weighed us down. We have hesitated, and like Obstinate stayed back, or found the going too tough and like Pliable gone back. Whether for salvation or for service, or in suffering God’s simply says, “Give me thine heart!” God chooses our place of service. We choose the pathway of surrender. 1Cor.12: 18,28 “God set everyone in the Body as it hath pleased Him”
2) The Company amongst which “Helps” are placed. 1Cor.12: ver.28 The ministry of helps is placed amidst a glorious company of wonderful people. “Apostles, Prophets, Teachers”. Paul mentions and commends some “Helpers” like Phoebe, Priscilla & Aquila (Romans 16: 1-4). Doubtless they too counted it a great privilege to have been of help & support to men like Paul. We too can know that great privilege & pleasure by: Filling the place He has chosen for us & Fulfilling the task He has given to us.
3) The Conflict often to be faced. The centre of God’s will is the best place to be but it is also the centre of conflict. 1Chron.12: 1 “Helpers of the War.” Ps.118: 13, “Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.” Read also Eph.6: 12; 1 Pet.5: 8. Such attacks may be Hurtful to us; Harmful to the testimony; but they can prove to be Helpful to our personal spiritual maturity and growth!
4) The Compensations to be enjoyed. 1Cor.12: 26, “Whether one member suffers, all suffer with it; or one member be honoured all rejoice with it.” 1Sam.30: 24 “As his part that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff; they shall part (share) alike. Heb.6: 10 “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His Name in that ye have ministered to the saints (His people)” Mt. 10: 42 “Whosoever shall give to drink a cup of cold water … shall in no wise lose his reward” A Cup of cold water or, perhaps, even a nice warm cup of Tea!
Some years ago we were absolutely devastated by something outside our control and felt we could no longer continue in the Lord’s service. The very next morning a letter arrived from a Christian lady in another part of the country, who was completely unaware of our circumstances. Something she wrote in the letter jumped up at me from the page. I can never forget it, “I am sending you this that YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE in the Lord’s service.” Those words meant more than I can tell you. This was the helping hand reaching out to us at that precise moment, when we were overwhelmed. It helped to lift us up and go on in His Service. We have travelled on since then, often severely tested, sometimes greatly trembling, but always simply trusting the One Who has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my Helper, I will not fear …” Hebrews 13:5
Now then;Thank God for those who may have helped you along the way. Ask God to help you to help somebody as you pass along, and your living shall not be in vain! The Lord richly bless you. Bob Watson