I know you’re thinking nothing for months, now two in a day….. 🙂 I did say there was another post coming in the previous one though!
As you will know if you’ve followed this blog, the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well is an integral part of the journey. The series I wrote titled The Man On the Bench (click link to open the first post of that series) would be enough to hint at this story being hugely important to me and to others who are walking the journey where I live.
As an update, Philip (the man formerly known as The Man On The Bench) is doing really well. He is now 15 (almost 16 at the end of this week) weeks without a drink after reaching his lowest point at the beginning of the year. He is in a process of what I am calling holistic recovery. I’m using this term to describe that he is healing spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Tomorrow my Dad and I are driving Philip to see his Mum. I’ve spoken to her on the phone before, but this is the first time we have had the opportunity to meet her. Something I’m looking forward to!
The story of Jesus and the woman meeting one another at the well is always focused on the woman and Jesus. As it should be, as they are the key people in that encounter, and there is little mention of others until their conversation has ended.
Recently, a friend and yet another brother-from-another-mother spoke about the connections that we are making in Aldershot and the surrounding area, and we agreed that we are making contact with significant people from connections we already have. He used the words “Collateral Impact.” (Credit: Nicholas Haydon.)
It’s a good phrase. It would probably make a great action movie title! Collateral impact is exactly what we see happening in the story of the woman at the well. The woman joins her story with Jesus, and in turn she brings others to him.
We must also be aware that there is a much bigger picture than the person sat with us or stood before us.
To his followers, Jesus says, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” This has taken on a new perspective for me in the last few months. It is to recognize that the person I’m connected with, here, now, is connected to others who Father is also drawing. The encouragement for us is to lift up our eyes, and to see and be aware of the collateral impact that Jesus is having and wants to have through us.
I know for Nicholas and others, they have their own stories of this happening. I will give you an example that I’ve been experiencing.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time with a guy in Aldershot who is street homeless. It’s fair to say that it’s taken some time for me to appreciate him as Jesus does! But I really do appreciate him and now I feel we are moving forward. I see changes in the last couple of months that I haven’t seen before, encouraging ones. Small, but encouraging ones!
But, this isn’t about him. Back track a couple of months and I found myself asking what the connection with him was all about. I was becoming frustrated if I’m honest! Then, as mentioned in the previous post following my weekend away, in a week I saw what was happening. The collateral impact that came from knowing this one guy.
The first occasion was when I needed to go and visit his mum to pick something up. I went, and when I arrived she said that she didn’t have long as she’d just had a call that meant she had to go out, but we had time for a cup of tea. Two and 3/4 hours later I had to leave. We talked about everything, hurts, regrets, fears; there were tears, and we spoke quite a bit about God too! And we’re still talking. And it’s wonderful to share our story too. I was able to share openly about what happened in the hotel room in Bournemouth, and what that meant for me. Our vulnerability opens the door for others to be vulnerable with us. Remember that!
Then, a few days later, I was due to meet two outreach workers from an organisation in Aldershot who I had come to know through this guy. They have been helping him for some time. We were due to meet that afternoon to discuss a few next steps for him, and in the morning I text one of them to say I was looking forward to meeting up. I got a reply saying they were too, and then I was asked “I wonder if I can talk to you personally about God? I really need some help!” So we did talk that afternoon. And we’re still talking.
I realized that, just as with the woman at the well bringing the people of the town to Jesus, my connection with this guy was having a collateral impact. And when I look back, I can see the same happened with Philip also. Tomorrow we get to meet his mum. That is collateral impact. She knows who we are and what we’re about. And all she has to go on is that Philip was like that and now he’s like this. And we can tell the story with him. And I realized something really incredible about it all.
The person right before me has a story. And that story is intertwined with so many other people. It is most closely intertwined with their family members. And due to the situation the person is in, you realize that it often causes a great amount of pain and hurt for their family. For example, what the person themselves is feeling is different to the feeling of the parent looking on as their son/daughter is street homeless. There is a much bigger picture. And they too have their own story which intertwines with others.
The story of the person before us also intertwines with others trying to help that same person we are trying to help. And they too have their own story which intertwines with others. And you step back and you see a bigger picture again. Collateral impact.
I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s hard to see what the connection with the person in front of us is all about. We don’t seem to be moving forward, our frustrations are increasing. And then, all of a sudden, it happens. Collateral Impact takes place! The picture widens, and we see that it’s about much more than the person before us. Perhaps it is the persons mother who needs an opportunity to talk and for someone to listen. Perhaps it’s someone who just needs to say “Help!”
Jesus is drawing not just the woman, but others to himself through her. He is drawing not just the person before us, but others to himself through them. And I love that quite often they are blissfully unaware too!
Let me encourage you to lift up your eyes, to see a bigger picture. To widen your gaze and look for the collateral impact around the person in front of you. For those looking for Life, they will be drawn to you and I when we are conscious and aware of the Life within us.
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.