I’ve always wondered what ‘keeping in step with the Spirit’ in Paul’s book to the Galatians really meant, especially when in my previous RAF training days, I did a fair amount of marching, where we needed to keep in step, otherwise it would be chaos!
For the past 5 years now I’ve been working as a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre manager in Yeovil, which is part of a UK network of life transforming work helping and supporting the most desperate, isolated and vulnerable people in unmanageable debt. In a nutshell, once someone calls the helpline 0800 328 0006, as a debt coach I provide free and professional help in clients’ homes, unique in the world of debt relief agencies, and working with them until they become debt free. Alongside, CAP’s head office specialists who negotiate with creditors, create a budget and provide ongoing support.
So, what was your first job back to work in 2020? Well exactly 3 years ago I had a client who unfortunately didn’t get past her 2nd CAP visit, so unfortunately CAP closed her case. On Monday 6 January I came into the office and was asked by a member of the church if any CAP client families needed any nappies, something we very rarely get asked. Now, we don’t normally store items and because I couldn’t think of an immediate need I was hesitant, but I said, “I’ll take them, in case we have a need.” Then 5 minutes later I opened my inbox to find an email, from the ex-client I mentioned earlier (she’d obviously kept my email address), who was desperately (you could tell that from the tone of the email) asking for a food parcel, some baby milk and some NAPPIES! Wow, you can imagine how I felt. So even though she was no longer a CAP client, the first reaction in my heart was to say, “Yes, I can help.” There was a need out there in our community and someone was reaching out for some help.
I looked up at the clock and saw it was 11.40am, thinking I need to call the Lord’s Larder food bank for a food parcel, and if I left it for another 20 minutes, after 12noon they normally wouldn’t be able to provide a food parcel until the following day. So, I called them, asking if they could put together a food parcel for a single mum with 4 children (ages 15,14,9,1) for 2 weeks, which they did.
Then I called the ex-client and following her delight to my call, we agreed I would deliver her food parcel for 1pm. So, with 2 bags of nappies given earlier, I collected the non-perishable food parcel from the Lord’s Larder (an amazing 6 bags of food!) and then went via a supermarket adding a fresh food shop, arriving at her home just after the time we agreed.
Well, what a greeting I received, from her 9-year-old daughter – a large smile on a small face! The front door opened and I brought in, 12 bags that included the non-perishable food, fresh food, and of course those nappies I was given earlier, that I hesitated over. Putting down all the food, her daughter started to pull out various items with just sheer delight…”and we’ve got this, and that, and look at this mum.”
I was asked if I would stay for a cuppa but tactfully declined and instead asked if I could pray for her. Looking up with a frown, instead of a smile, the 9-year-old asked, “Why?” I replied, “We need to thank God for all this food.” “Oh OK,” and she just carried on taking out the food from the bags, with delight. So, I prayed and left a blessing on this family, returning back to my office.
So why did I share this moment of God in action? Well working for CAP and helping to lift people out of poverty, doesn’t just mean I should only be working to help those who have asked for help via the CAP helpline. If that is how far my Christian acts of kindness reach, to CAP clients only, then it’s a pretty poor show regarding the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in me, mentioned in Galatians 5:22/23. So often we may not even feel it or see it, but God never stops working in us, after all, the bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” Yes, He never stops working in and through us. So with that in mind, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading (keeping in step) in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:25
Now, keeping in step takes on a totally new light and on so many occasions I find myself deviating from one thing to another, where I can only suggest that God keeps interrupting my day, bringing order into the chaos of both my day and the lives of others.