Last week we had an incident in one of the offices I cover for work.
In reality, it could have been a little more serious than it was. But it wasn’t, and I truthfully have to admit that the slightly immature part of my personality found just a little bit of amusement in the whole thing. Because everyone involved found more than a little bit of amusement in it afterwards.
It involved 6 young adults. And a lift.
And the so-called-rumour that if all 6 young adults jumped in the one lift at exactly the same time, it would stop.
Which turned out to be one of those rumours that actually has more than a little resonance of truth in it.
You get where I’m going with this?
Truthfully, I think I can remember trying something similar when I was in sixth form college… You know? The old, ‘Right, let’s count to 3 and everyone jump at the same time and I’ve heard that the lift will reverse and start going downwards…’
It’s just that I’d never actually heard of it working before.
But, when the voices of 6 young adults could be heard shouting for help from the now stationary and stuck-mid-floor elevator… Well, turns out that these stories sometimes really do have an element of truth in them.
It actually turns out that 6 people jumping up and down at the same time in our lift blows all the electrics and causes a complete shutdown of the whole mechanism for safety purposes. I mean, who knew?
Now, never fear, 50 minutes, 1 domino’s pizza and some decent chat later, this incident was fast moving towards becoming the stuff of legend…
The fear of being stuck in a small, quite dark, contained space without a way out, had given way to the laughter, adventure, and sheer amusement of the whole occasion. The young people had posed for photos in said lift. They had text and tweeted their friends about it. We had kept straight faces throughout giving them the serious this-is-why-you-should-NEVER-jump-in-a-lift talk, whilst secretly knowing that for all the bravado, none of these individual’s would ever try it again.
And they haven’t.
We are now a week later. The ‘Lift Story’ has become a thing of legend, all associated ‘Lift Behaviour’ has been perfect, and we have had to introduce a ‘Lift Safety’ talk into our course introduction.
But seeing this whole incident unfold reminded me of an important reflection about human resiliance.
You can ensure almost anything, as long as you know it has an end-point.
There’s something about knowing that/when/how something traumatic will end that just enables us to cope with the whole thing. Whatever it may be.
It’s called hope.
So, if you get stuck in a lift, there’s that intial feeling of complete panic that no one will ever find you, and no one will ever know you are there, and everyone will leave, and you will be stuck forever, and there is no food or water, and, and, and… A whole host of irrational thoughts that could go on and on and on…
But that panic quickly subsides when you make contact with the outside world and realise help is on it’s way. It fades even more when the lights come back on and someone shouts down that you’ll be out within the hour. Because knowing there’s an end date? That’s hope.
And fear so often lies in the unknown.
I’m using a humorous story to illustrate, but it’s honestly true for some far more serious situations. Abuse is at it’s most frightening when you can’t see a way for it to ever stop. There are stories from people trapped after natural disasters or who have been kept falsely imprisoned, who share that the thing that brought them most despair, was the realisation that they couldn’t see the light or hope of rescue.
The realisation of another option, or a way out, or a rescue-plan… That gives hope, and vision and determination to persevere. When voices are heard moving the rubble, or letters of encouragement reach you, or there is a release date given… These are the things that make all the difference.
Hope overcomes fear.
And the thing that I’m learning more and more, that is truly amazing and completely life altering in it’s implication? Is that Jesus can give us that hope, that real hope that overcomes all fear, even when we can’t quite see the end of the story. Because His promise is firm. And that’s what our hope rests on.
Like at the end of Acts when we read about Paul. I love this story. Because Paul is on a ship, held as a prisoner for his faith, amongst other prisoners set to be on trial at the highest court they could be sent. And he has already warned the crew that the ship is going to be wrecked on the way, and counselled them to pause their journey… But they have ignored him. The days have gone on, and the weather has got worse, the sky has gone black, and in complete and utter despair it says that the entire ship had ‘given up all hope of being saved’. They had lost all hope. There was no end date to this storm. And they were afraid.
And into this apparently hopeless situation, Paul comes and speaks words of life. He shares how he has seen an angel, who has told him… ‘To not be afraid’. He has heard from God. And his courage has been renewed.
Because he has hope.
And I love this. So much.
I wish I was like this. So much.
The crew must have thought he was mad. Nothing in their physical reality had changed, but this man stood, suddenly adamant, that they would all be saved. That Jesus would save them, every one of them, even though it seemed impossible.
And don’t get me wrong. Even after that, as their ship was destroyed and as they swam or floated into shore on the remnants of driftwood, I’m sure many still felt that Paul’s hope was misguided.
Until they did a headcount on the beach and found it to be true.
Because it was.
And the hope of rescue, and our faith in the goodness of God, that overcomes fear. Any fear.
Sometimes, God brings us that hope in tangible ways, through the words of others, or through the testimony of a friend. And sometimes, He speaks to us from the Word. And sometimes… He speaks to us prophetically for our situation and asks us to hold on.
Trusting. Knowing. And waiting.
When I was 12 years old, me and my parents moved to a totally different part of England. God had spoken to us really clearly as a family, and I had even had a prophetic dream of the place and house we would move to before I saw it… But still, moving is a tough change when you’re a kid.
And we had this worship song that we listened to as our family prayer, like a bit of an anthem. I can’t even count the amount of times we played it, sang it and prayed it.
I still love it, even 16 years later. And it’s still my prayer. Even today.
Good old Ian White!
Though I feel afraid, of territory unknown
I know that I can say, that I do not stand alone
For Jesus You have promised, Your Presence in my heart
I cannot see the ending, but it’s here that I must start
And all I know, is You have called me
And that I will follow is all I can say
I will go where You will send me
And Your fire lights my way
What lies across the waves, may cause my heart to fear
Will I survive the day? Must I leave what’s known and dear?
A ship that’s in the harbour, is still and safe from harm
But it was not built to be there, it was made for wind and storm
Ok, I also have to confirm the highly important news that our toilet is now officially UNBLOCKED! Yep. Thanks so much for all the advice, suggestions, offers of prayer support, and thanks so much to the LEGEND that is Rebecca McGivern, for manning up and dealing with the chocolate-looking-like-a-gross-poo issue!