During these days of needing to connect with each other online, I would love to find ways of sharing stories, specifically stories about King Road people. If you have something to contribute, please contact Pastor Leonard. The first story is from Herman Stahl about his mom, Maria Stahl. Read it and be encouraged. (Leonard)
We live in a time and a culture where we have grown to be self reliant. When we are up against a problem, we turn to Google for solutions. When we are lacking something, we pull out our wallet. When we fail, we can easily find something or someone else to blame. When something happens where all else fails, we ignore it and wait until it goes away. Admitting our limitations and our need for help runs against everything we see, read and hear round us. We’ll manage! We’ll be fine!
Well, it seems we have run out of options in our present situation with regards to COVID-19. Google is stumped; our wallet can’t get us what we need; there is no one to blame and ignoring it will only make it (much) worse. It feels like we are at a place where we are no longer in control and that feels scary!
My mother was very familiar with these kinds of places. When she was a child, all her family’s possessions were taken from them, including their home, and there was no wallet to replenish their loss. When they were in a gathering camp and the train was at the station to take them into exile to Siberia, blaming the Soviet Regime was not going to change their helplessness. When they pioneered the green hell of the Paraguayan Chaco, their new home, they couldn’t ask Google. When they moved to a remote ranch with two young children, ignoring the difficulties was not an option. She faced this sense of helplessness repeatedly, and I can only imagine how scary that must have felt!
Maybe that is why she always gravitated to Psalm 121. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” And help came, sometimes just in the nick of time, sometimes not as expected or in unexpected ways. And it wore different faces. In the gathering camp in Slavgorod God’s help wore the face of the German government. On the initiative of her oldest brother, who had escaped to Germany two years earlier, they had managed to get permission from the Soviet government for family re-unification. And so, the night before the train headed into the icy Siberian wilderness, an officer came into camp and plucked the family from almost certain death. During her journey into freedom and the survival during their pioneer years, God’s help wore the face of MCC which provided the ship, the land and supplies to begin a new life. At other times this help wore the face of her brother, family or the church. But as she asked the question, “Where does my help come from,” she knew where that help came from.
I’m sure you can think of others, or know of ancestors who have faced helpless situations. I think of the Donikians and the Syrian people; the Sudanese who continue to face famine, war and displacement; the people of Burkina Faso where churches, mosques and other Social Institutions have faced deadly attacks since 2016; women around the world who remain vulnerable in so many cultures, especially also to the threat of human trafficking. We can only imagine the fear that comes as a result of such helplessness—and thanks to COVID-19 we can now also know what this fear is like.
COVID-19 has brought us to a place where our self reliance has met its limits. Perhaps for the first time we really sense what helpless feels like and we truly and vulnerably ask, “Where does our help come from?” For my mom the answer was always “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” And as I have learned from her life, this help wore different faces.
My hope is that we can turn our faces upward at this time and ask that question and confidently expect that answer. Maybe God will intervene miraculously, or maybe God’s help will wear the face of a scientist, a nurse, a neighbour, an altered lifestyle, greater compassion for one another and for other people’s plight. Perhaps others will see your face too as they receive help, not just now but also in the future and in other places of helplessness and despair.
May God grant us the assurance and the confidence to know where our help comes from in such a time as this.