Last week a friend sent me a link for a sermon from St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate in London. That name brought back this little story.
It happened twenty years ago. Jake and I were traveling home to Bolivia from Nigeria. We planned a weekend layover in London to visit that very St. Helen’s Church.
I’d heard of it through the biography of Dr. Kenneth Moynaugh, an Irish missionary who was an important mentor in my life. He was so influential in my spiritual growth that I used to re-read his book “Man of Two Worlds” every year.
I never met him (he died in 1971) but Wouldn’t it be grand to go to his church and meet someone who knew him? I thought. Perhaps I could connect with a family member to express my deep appreciation.
It was an ambitious plan, to get us (pulling our suitcases!) from the airport to the train, to our B&B, and then navigate the underground London railway to the church.
But we were doing it, and that Sunday afternoon, we walked the six blocks to the Tube station, with plenty of time to catch a train, make one transfer and be at the church for the evening service.
What a busy place the station was, full of people and signboards and shops. We found the routes, got our tickets, and joined the crowd going down-down-down to the platform by the rails.
SWOOSH! The train flew in and stopped.
Jake stepped aboard and SCHLIP!
Before I could join him, the doors closed.
We looked at each other through the glass, then SWOOP! Jake was gone down the tunnel.
I stood disbelieving on the platform.
Remember this was twenty years ago, no cell phones.
I had to figure out what to do and it seemed clear I had only one option: walk back to the B&B and wait there.
Now here’s the thing, when I travel with Jake, I let him worry about directions. I just follow (Obviously that time I hadn’t been following close enough!) so I had zero confidence that I could find the way to the B&B alone.
But I wasn’t alone.
I remember the peace-replacing-panic as I went back up-up-up to the lobby, asking God to help me.
He showed me the right exit out of the station, helped me follow the right streets and—a minor miracle—I found the B&B.
About two hours later, Jake arrived. (Super-relieved, of course!)
Obviously we never made it to St. Helen’s, but oh, well.
This has been a hard week.
I am weary of all the bad news, of staying ‘safer at home,’ of seeing and wearing masks, of life mostly shut down.
I am tired of being separated from friends, of dealing with uncertainty and unknowns, of feeling this inner anxiousness of concern for my family and all the suffering people.
And we got a shock: Jake’s good brother Buck died. He went to heaven in a heartbeat. Good for him… Terrible tragedy for his family…
I just want to weep.
Life feels hard.
Because life is hard.
I don’t know what my old story about St. Helen’s has to do with anything today.
But it has inspired me to re-read Dr. Moynaugh’s biography. (Maybe God has some encouragement there.)
And it has reminded that I am never alone.
God is an Ever-present Help.
And I need lots of help.