Tunnels, Tight Places, and Titus "Teaching"
Do you have moments in your life that should belong in an I Love Lucy episode? Sometimes I feel like I live there!
A few years ago on a visit to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, my husband asked me to choose which tour our family would take. That was probably a serious mistake, because of course I chose the tour involving vertical climbs on shaky wooden ladders on the edge of the canyon wall and tunnels we had to crawl through to get from one area of the dwellings to another.
The nine of us navigated all the challenges pretty well until, without warning, the sky began to turn a Wicked-Witch-of-the-East-green, and hail began pummeling us. We happened to be on a narrow ledge overlooking the canyon, and it didn’t take long for our calm, controlled tour guide to react in a way that was anything but calm and controlled.
The only way off the ledge involved an exit through a tunnel that was five or six feet long and designed for tribal members who had never eaten at McDonalds. The guide scrambled through first and disappeared as he climbed the slanted wooden ladder that led to level ground. We never saw him again. Our crew began to emerge one–by-one from the tiny tunnel while my husband, a legally blind woman (I am not making this up), and her companion brought up the rear. Billy, my husband, crawled into the tunnel and made it about halfway through before he began his Pooh Bear imitation.
A wedged bear in a great tightness… I can’t remember which character said that, but it was a totally accurate description of his predicament. The barely sighted woman, guide stick in hand, began urging him on one jab at a time. The eight of us were peering down the tunnel shouting encouragement from the other side: “Come on Dad,” “Hold your breath and wiggle,” “You can do this,” “Keep moving forward.” Houdini-like, Billy squeezed through the last few feet and emerged with only his pride a little damaged as we reached in to help him out.
You must be wondering what this story has to do with the concept of discipleship for women. I have realized that sometimes encouraging the women God surrounds us with just means that we have already been through the tunnel they are stuck in. We can pass along some input on how we were able to keep moving ahead, or how we were able to keep breathing while we were squeezed, or how we recognized the jabs of the enemy when we were immobilized. Whether we are 15 or 50, there are tight places in our lives when we need to hear from someone who is further down the path reminding us that there is truth we need to apply, hope for our present circumstances, and grace that enables us to crawl the next few feet to the exit.
Just a few days ago, a woman stopped me in the parking lot at church. I vaguely remembered praying with her about how difficult it was for her as the caregiver for her dad a few years before. She put her arm around my shoulders and said, “I know how hard it is—I’ve seen you taking care of your mom. I just want you to know that I understand, and I’m praying for you.” That encounter lasted less than five minutes, but it still encourages my heart.
The practice of Titus “teaching” can happen as we simply act as the hands and feet that convey the love of Christ. The woman who needs that may be someone you already know or perhaps someone the Lord brings across your path today.
Are you asking the Lord to give you eyes to see and ears to hear? How tragic it would be to have the opportunity to shout down that tunnel, “You can do this,” “Keep trusting Christ,” but to be too busy, too insensitive, or too selfish to reach out and offer that sister behind you true freedom.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
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