April 1st is notorious for practical jokes.  This year I was grateful when my daughter called me and said “I decided to tell you what we were thinking of doing because I was afraid if I really did it you might have a heart attack.” We laughed as we thought about all the possible reactions I might have had. I thanked her for sparing me the emotional exhaustion that could have ensued had the practical joke been played out. Wouldn’t it be nice if we always had a head’s up on what was coming? I’d much rather talk about the what if’s rather than live them out.  Most of us know what it feels like when we are blindsided by an unexpected hi t.  Our world is turned upside down, the wind gets knocked out of us and what follows is often a long and arduous period of recovery.  There are folks I know right now who are going through some of the most challenging experiences life has to offer.  I wish I could just take them somewhere, anywhere but where they are, and make it all right.  I ponder how long it will be before they are okay again, if ever.  But here’s what I know.  Just as I have been there and survived, most likely they will too.  I also know they have a better chance if those who love them show up, help them, stand beside them, and catch them when they begin to fall.  (None of us fare well if we try and go it alone).  There is an overused expression these days, “lean in”.  I think this does, however, aptly describe what we are called to do when someone we love is struggling, seemingly walking through a small corner of hell.  They’re survival just may depend on whether or not we lean in and hold them tight.  Investing in others can be uncomfortable and even costly.  We may be tempted to stand back because we don’t know what to say, or because it may be emotionally draining, or we fear that our own world might be disturbed.  We must resist the urge to hold back.  Throughout history, God has used his people to help those who are suffering until they are able to return to the land of the living and once again invest in all he has called them to do.  So, when we are given the privilege to be an agent of God’s healing hand, may we be willing to be a life line for someone who just might be drowning, to ‘lean in,’ in the most positive of ways.

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