St. Helen’s

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.

Doors opened.

People out.

People in.

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.

Now what?   

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 did.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “St. Helen’s

  1. I feel your pain.. I’m tired of this new norm. So sorry about James’s brother.. Thank you for the reminders that we are NEVER alone.. and that our joy is in HIM.
    Love
    Jenni

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  2. Hi Sarah,
    I appreciate the thoughts you share on your blog. So sorry to hear about Buckshot’s passing. I’m sure he and Johnny are having a fun time together in heaven! We met in Berrien Springs at Jake’s class reunion. I’ll be praying for your family in this time of loss.
    Sharon Archer

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  3. yes, Sis, this is a time of real uncertainty, and a time of incomprehensible grief for you and Jake. Hope that book encourages you.

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  4. Hi Sarah

    I was very interested to hear you mention St Helen’s Bishopsgate as the vicar there, William Taylor was my minister and mentor in Christ Church Bromley when I lived in London. He used to meet up with me one on one on Saturday mornings to study the bible together and was a great encouragement.

    I am sorry to hear of the passing of Jake’s brother, Buck. Thankfully he is in a better place but very sad for his family. These are tough times so it is good to be reminded that God is our ever present help. I was also wondering how your Dad was doing at this time? Do you have any opportunity to see him?

    Great to see you on the Zoom call a few weeks ago (and your grandson) and we miss not having you and Jake around here.

    Blessings
    Alastair

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  5. I’d never heard that story. Life before cell phones had more anxiety, for sure. 🙂

    Sent from Outlook

    ________________________________

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  6. Sarah, Thanks for sharing and so sorry to hear about Jake’s brother. We will keep you both in our prayers today. St. Helen’s is my go to church via the web! Their ministry speaks so much to me about my walk with the Lord.

    All the best, David

    On Mon, Jul 20, 2020 at 8:34 PM Sarah Keeps Growing Down wrote:

    > sarahkeepsgrowingdown posted: “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 l” >

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  7. We all need encouragement these days. Our Lord gives us pieces from our past to speak to us today doesn’t He. Thank you God for loving us and caring for us. Thank you Sarah for putting your words and thoughts out there. 💐

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  8. TY Sarah, Always enjoy reading your heart thoughts❣️So many emotions & hard to understand…,but GRATEFUL Buck‘s rejoicing in heaven! Joining you in asking for Christ’s overwhelming mercy & grace for Buck’s family & for dear Jake. ✨

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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