Friday, 23 May 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

‘Give me your hand.’ Maybe you wouldn’t have received that as a special kindness, but believe me, with a steep mountain, or a river crossing before me, it was more than  a kindness but a life-saver.

‘Kingen di.’ I recognised those words as meaning ‘Give me your hand.’  A new- comer to the remote highlands of New Guinea and unused to roughing it, my fellow missionaries laughed at the wonderful way in which the Lord helped me, for when trekking to some out-station there always seemed to be someone who stepped out of the bush to give me a hand just when I needed it.

There are other ways of giving a hand or being there for people. My mother used to say, ‘There are so many needy people in the world, and for most the best thing you can give them is a little bit of time.

It is true, isn’t it? A burden shared is a burden halved, they say. My mother was elderly and disabled, but with her stick and her little car she went around to visit the shut-ins, and if she couldn’t visit she would write or phone.  

At Easter time I received a random act of kindness. Our little Elijah, not yet four years old, came running up to me and placed a tiny chocolate egg in my hand. Given a boxful by his mother, it was his idea to bring them to church to give away. How blessed I was to be chosen to receive one. Especially blessed because I  in turn was able to give it away as a random act of kindness.

Dear little Kitty, two years old, was getting fractious. I remembered the egg in my pocket. Kitty snuggled in beside me as I unwrapped it. The sweetness of that egg lasted a long time as from then on Auntie Pauline was given lots of hugs.

What joy grew out of Elijah’s random act of kindness.

Let’s be aware of the many random acts of kindness that God is strewing on our paths; and let’s strew some of our own, if it is just to give a hand to someone struggling with a heavy bag, to stop to pass the time of day; a letter, a timely phone call, or a prayer.

Thank God for random acts of kindness.

Was it a random act of kindness, or was it the North Wind herself that brought this book into my hands when I was feeling low with a cold? It was certainly a gift from God.

My friend was supposed to be downsizing into a smaller house, and explaining that some things she could not part with, such as this box of books she had read to her children. She held up ‘At the Back of the North Wind,’ by George MacDonald. ‘Oh,’ I exclaimed. ‘I would love to read it again.’

I was probably an adult when I first read it, and I remember how God had reminded me of its message. I had been sure God would not send me anywhere with mountains or log bridges, and here I was in New Guinea with plenty of both. I had somehow got ahead of my companions and was overcome with fear. I could not go back or on. God gently reminded me of little Diamond. His friend, the North Wind, had carried him in her arms to the cathedral, and placed him on a ledge, high up. There was not room for her to walk beside him and when he expressed fear she withdrew. She could not be friends with cowards. But as he was willing to trust and to step out so she blew strength into him. I too was able to step out in faith. From then on I wondered how I had found those mountains daunting.

George Macdonald, before the times of C.S.Lewis and Tolkien had written the most beautiful fairy stories, allegories of the life of faith.

I was told that this book, ‘At the Back of the North Wind’ is about death. I was surprised at that , for I had thought that maybe the North Wind represented suffering, but now, as I read it again many years later I think it is neither, but a most beautiful picture of all that our Lord Jesus is and wants to be in our lives.

Little Diamond, whose daddy is a coachman, sleeps in the stable above where big Diamond, this wonderful carriage horse, sleeps. His mother plugs up the knot in the wood by his bed, but the North Wind wants to come in. She becomes his friend, and carried him far away. She has to do many things which seem to be all wrong, but Diamond learns to trust her and see how she is working out God’s purposes for good.

Eventually his trust in her is such that he wants to go through her to the land at the back of the North wind. Has he come through death to heaven? No, for after a while he is brought back from a serious illness, but from here on he has had a taste of heaven and so nothing can perturb him.

The family go through great trials, but in it all Diamond sings his special songs that he had heard from the river of God. When his father is ill he takes out big Diamond, now a cab horse, through the dangerous streets of London’s East End, but nothing can make him afraid and he is able to bring grace and blessing wherever he goes.

Eventually all turns out well for the family and all those involved in his life, and at the end it seems that our little Diamond has died, but we know that he had gone through the North Wind, this time to reach heaven itself.

And as his relationship with the beautiful North Wind pictures our relationship with our wonderful Saviour, I pray that we, like Diamond, will allow nothing to perturb us and give us courage to face every difficulty, for we may not, like some, have entered into the outskirts of heaven only to return for a season, but we have tasted of the powers of the world to come and have sat with Christ in heavenly places and so we too, can quietly trust that He will turn everything to good for us as we trust in him.

That was more than a ‘random’ act of kindness when I was lent this book, and just maybe you may find that this blog is more than such a kindness to you who so patiently read.

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