I’ve met with Philip, the man on the bench, 3 times this week. This week has been a tough week for him, but Father is working. Please if you feel connected just by reading about him, pray for him.
But this post isn’t about Philip as such.
We all know the story of the woman at the well. The woman who came to a safe place in the middle of the day when no-one else would be there. Except someone was there. The One was there. And the woman engaged in conversation with Jesus.
Following their conversation, the woman left and went back to the town. She spoke to all the people, urging them saying, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” The people were drawn to Jesus by this woman.
On Monday I was sat with Philip in Princes Gardens in Aldershot. It was raining, but he was on the bench and so Jesus was on the bench too. And a guy (let’s call him George, not his real name) came over and started to talk with us. He began to share his story. He asked me some of mine. I said I am a follower of Jesus and opened up what that means. He was honest and said that he didn’t believe, that he was agnostic, but everyone had the right to believe what they wanted to.
Philip and I sat and listened to his story for some time. It was good to listen. People need to share their story. It was obviously what was needed. Eventually Philip was leaving and I went with him.
Today I found them both on the bench in Princes Gardens again. I listened again. And then something interesting happened.
Philip said to me, “Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for always coming to find me. You always know where to find me.”
And George says, “How do I sign up? I’m not talking about signing up to religious things. But I need to ask you a question. Will you come and find me like you come to find Philip? I really need someone to do that for me.”
It blew me away. I realise how people want and need to be found. Particularly those who feel lost and alone. But it felt like more than just being lonely. I’m not sure he realised it, but George is saying something that Jesus can and will respond to.
I said, “Absolutely, I will come and find you like I find Philip.” Here is a man who wants to be found. That’s Jesus speciality isn’t it?
I would never have met George if it had not been for Philip. The man on the bench is now drawing others to Jesus. Even if he doesn’t realise it. George is not the only one. There are others who I’ve met through the man on the bench. Some who I know from way back, others who I’ve met for the first time. And each person is someone Jesus wants to engage in conversation with.
I will go back on Friday morning to Aldershot to find Philip, but also to find George. Jesus spoke of the good shepherd who goes to look for the one that is lost. He’s interested in the one’s who are lost and alone. And he’s out looking. Now. And he’s out looking through us if we’ll make ourselves available to do that. We must be prepared to sit where they sit. That’s what it is to sit on the bench with Philip. You sit where he sits, no matter what and how uncomfortable it is for you. You walk where they walk. You do not know what that will mean for you until Jesus has walked you where these people are walking.
You go out and find those who want to be found. They all want to be found really. Whether they voice it or not. Philip wanted to be found. He’s received Jesus, I know it. There are more to come.
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.