Things have been busy this last few weeks. A lot has been happening. And when I say a lot, I mean there is a lot to try and capture in words which I may not achieve. But I’ll try.
First things first, an update on Philip for those who followed the Man on the Bench series of posts.
Philip had a slip, a fall on his journey, but in slipping up something amazing happened. It provided an opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate just how much he is loved. And in that we have experienced and learnt so much.
The first thing we’ve learnt is this. There’s no doubt that Philip experienced a miracle back in February and that for 7 weeks he was walking in that. But there’s something we understand from the story of Jesus and Lazarus. It is that Jesus can set someone free. They can experience resurrection Life and come out of the tomb they are stuck in.
But what we’ve learnt is that Lazarus needs help to remove the grave clothes. He is alive, he shuffles out of the tomb, but he needs help to remove the grave clothes. It’s not something he can do himself. And there’s something else. After Lazarus is raised from the dead and helped out of the grave clothes, he goes home.
And that was not something that Philip had. Philip, like Lazarus, experienced resurrection. But there was something else that needed to happen. And so the opportunity arose for his friends to help remove the grave clothes.
And through Love so many people volunteered freely to show the love of the Father for Philip. Without being asked, people gave time, money, sweat, and probably some blood along the way! There were tears, but only happy ones. The result is a home for Philip to be peaceful in.
Philip’s journey from the man on the bench to the man who Jesus has taken to a safe place is mirroring the story of the woman at the well. People have been and are being drawn to Jesus through this man. It’s really quite amazing to see unfold.
When we first took Philip to see his flat, a week before he moved in, we played the song Moving Forward which had been played a lot in the flat while the transformation was taking place. As he sat in his new recliner, and the truth and power of the words visibly affected him, it was amazing to witness a really profound moment. After that we walked to a nearby cafe which we have frequented often with Philip.
The owner came in after a short while, and came over to speak with Philip. He and his staff have always treated Philip with dignity and respect, and helped him in so many ways. We all listened as he spoke to Philip.
Now, the song we had just listened to starts like this:
I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead
I’m here to declare to you my past is over
In you, all things are made new
Surrender my life to you
I’m moving, moving forward
Guess what he said to Philip? “These people, they don’t want anything from you. They just want to see you changed, to see you moving forward. You must not look back, your past is gone, behind you, it’s over. You must always be moving forward, moving forward.”
Philip asked Sarah if he’d heard the song too! No, Father was speaking through him to Philip.
He continued. “We want to see everyone who sits on the bench in here, changed and happy and moving forward.”
The man was prophesying now.
Then, just over a week ago, we (actually I) had been making some noise in the flat. It was necessary, but it was disturbing the lady in the print shop on the ground floor. We’ve had great conversations with her about what Jesus is doing for and in Philip. She was nice about the noise, she knew what we were doing, and asked how much longer the noise would be going on for. 5 mins was our reply!
Later in the day, I was about to walk home. I got to the top of town, and had one of those nudges. “Go buy her a box of chocolates to apologise for the noise.” So I walked back down through town, found a box of Quality Street, bought them and took them to her in the shop, and apologised for the noise I’d been making.
She was so surprised, she didn’t want to accept them! She asked how we were getting on. I explained how people had given time, resources, money, everything. I told her we were pretty much done in the flat. She was really impacted by the love being shown to this man who she knew and who lived above the shop she worked in.
She asked if he needed any clothes. I said that we had bought him some, but that he could probably do with some more. She said, “Take one of our catalogues, have a look through with him, make a list of what he wants and bring that back to me. I’ll order them and I’d love to donate them to him.”
So I went in with a box of chocolates and came out with a catalogue and an offer to donate some clothes. Philip and I picked them up on Monday. He thanked her and blessed her as he hugged her. Another wonderful moment to witness. And I’m convinced Jesus hasn’t finished there. He is drawing the lady in the shop to himself.
And there’s more.
A short while back, Alan and I met Carl whilst walking the cross (well, Alan carries it and I walk with him) in Aldershot town centre. Father was drawing Carl and has continued to do so. Carl has opened himself to Jesus. He came every day to the flat, right up to the day Philip moved in. He really grafted, as did everyone who helped. In experiencing Jesus as Love through all that was happening, he himself was affected. It’s quite amazing the transformation that has taken place in him in the last 5/6 weeks! He is experiencing Jesus himself within. He’s responding to the leading of Jesus in so many ways. And Jesus has taken him from his past life, made a home within him, and Carl is moving forward in him too.
On Monday Carl came and walked with us as Alan carried the cross. Father is working.
This is multiplication. Through one woman a whole town was brought to Jesus. Is it possible that as Jesus leads us to the ones, that they will in turn draw others to Jesus? Is it possible that Philip, the man formerly known as the man on the bench, is drawing others to Jesus?
I think so. 🙂
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.