I was in my early forties when I decided to buy my first home, a condo. I tried to patiently endure the long purchasing process and eagerly looked forward to the day when I could sign the papers and the home would be mine. It wasn’t until I started to sign the mortgage documents with my signature and date, that I realized I was buying the condo on my birthday. I laugh-cried at the thought that I had given myself a thirty-year debt as a birthday present.
Once I got over this shock, I focused on moving out of my rental house and into the condo. I was fortunate that my situation gave me a luxurious timeframe of 2 weeks to move.
After friends and family helped me move the big items, I slowly but steadily moved the smaller things that could fit in my car. One of the last things of mine that remained in the rental house was the washer I bought from a previous roommate. It was built in the 1970’s, when American appliances were made of heavy steel and weighed much more than they do now. I dreaded moving that washer and put off trying to find a third person to help my cousin Don and I move it out of the rental’s garage. Moving day finally arrived but I had been too embarrassed to ask someone to possibly strain their back in order to help me. Don backed up his truck into the open garage, and with the assistance of a flattened cardboard box, we slid the washing machine the length of the garage to the bed of the truck. We discussed the best strategy to lift it and place it on the folded down tailgate. My cousin looked at me suddenly and asked “didn’t you get someone else to help us?” I sheepishly looked away and mumbled no. Don sighed in frustration, as we both bent down and grabbed the washer on either side. We slowly hefted the heavy metal box with its metal motor about 2 feet off the ground, when I stalled. I couldn’t find the extra muscle power to boost it the last few feet onto the tailgate. With our arms and backs straining, we both exchanged a panicked look over the shaking washer, and my cousin shouted “Put it down!” He added “I don’t know how we’re going to do this!” We both breathed heavily for a few moments then stubbornly tried again.
For the second attempt, we exerted about the same amount of effort, but this time the washer only reached about a foot off the ground when I heard a voice from the front yard say “Careful! You need another set of hands!” We simultaneously shifted our attention from the back of the truck to the front sidewalk, and watched a tall, slender man walk from the sidewalk into my garage and examine the washer. I explained to the kind-looking man that I sold the washer and the new owners were waiting for us to deliver it to their house in Springfield. He then walked up to the side of the washer opposite my cousin and diplomatically instructed us. He reminded Don and I how to change our stance and lift using the strength of our legs and abdomen in order to protect our backs. I took the third side and before I knew it, the washer was in the back of the truck and securely tethered in place using straps and the truck’s tie-down hooks. Don and I profusely thanked the kind man who wished us a good day, then got in his car and drove away. The entire process took less than 15 minutes! I went from a gut twisting feeling of hopelessness about our goal, to feeling that we had been visited by one of God’s helper angels. As we drove to Springfield, Don and I discussed how God faithfully, abundantly, and mercifully provided us with the precise help we needed at the exact moment we needed it!
I continue to think about that experience in the nearly 20 years since it happened. I think about how God designed humans to help each other. And He designed humans to honor his creation of community by supporting each other with God’s eternal love as a healthy extended family.
It is a life-giving honor and a profound blessing to help other people as we have been helped by God. To me this true story shows how we, as human beings, are all connected to each other, and are woven together in the larger work of God’s eternal kingdom and family.
Years later, I saw this principle in action again but from a different perspective. I still live in the same condo after 18 years. And earlier this year, I found myself recovering from the disappointment that one of my favorite neighbors, Jenny, decided to sell her unit and downsize into an even smaller apartment. I appreciated that she notified a group of us a full month before she listed her unit, which helped me correct my attitude and be happy for her. Still, I put off saying my final good bye.
By late afternoon of her final day of ownership, I no longer heard or saw her next door and thought I had waited too long. As I sat in my living room regretting that I missed my chance, I heard Jenny’s familiar voice on her back porch. Our back yards were adjacent to each other, so I seized my chance and walked the 30 odd steps to her back door. By this time, she was standing inside with her friend, fiddling with something above the sliding glass door which was open. I called out to her and knocked on the frame of her screen door. She greeted me with a surprised voice and enthusiastically invited me to come in. Before I could speak, Jenny said “You came at the perfect time! Can you help us hang the curtain rod?” This task doesn’t sound like something that needs more than one person to do, but Jenny was under five feet tall and her friend was not much taller. They showed me that the curtain rod was created in three pieces with an extension rod in the middle. Due to their shorter height, neither woman could reach the brackets while holding the curtain rod horizontally. They tried to employ a workaround of holding the curtain rod at a steep angle and sliding it into place between the brackets. Every time they tried this technique the extension rod would telescope into the rod ends and fall out of the brackets with all three pieces on the floor at their feet. It was a stretch, but standing at a height of 5’7” I could easily reach the brackets while holding the curtain rod horizontally. After a few attempts I successfully dropped the curtain rod into the brackets. Both ladies patted me on the back and Jenny expressed relief that her moving-out work was now done and she could give her keys to her real estate agent. I wished Jenny well and said goodbye.
The full circle aspect of this experience suddenly hit me. I remembered the kind man who was especially suited to help us move the washer. He came equipped with his God-given strength, his knowledge of how to lift heavy objects safely, and with his ability to teach in a gentle manner that was non-threatening to my rather frustrated cousin. I never thought of myself as especially tall, but I was the right height to get the job done, and I was in the right place at the right time. Also, I didn’t miss my chance; I still was able to say a final goodbye to my neighbor. God took the occasion to show me that when I listen to His voice and follow His timing, it’s never too late to seize an opportunity He is giving me! That was a deeply encouraging reminder to me. I loved being able to pay forward the gift I received in the past, by helping another person. This is part of God’s perfect original design for this world and His eternal Kingdom!
Romans 12:4-5 (NLV)
Our bodies are made up of many parts. None of these parts have the same use. There are many people who belong to Christ. And yet, we are one body which is Christ’s. We are all different but we depend on each other.
About the Author
Sara has attended CitySalt Church since 2004, the year it was founded. She studied Journalism, wrote for her college newspaper, and is a member of Oregon Christian Writers. Sara also enjoys singing hymns with friends: “there is a sermon in every hymn waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.”