We took the entire family to Wal-Mart. It was only four of us at the time. We loaded up the two kids, one infant and one toddler, into the 1996 Ford Taurus station wagon and went nonstop to the land of “if they don’t have it, we don’t need it.” This particular excursion was directed at purchasing an outdoor play set for the kids. We had been looking for one for a while and with the current clearance sale, now was the time. I parked the car along the curb, outside of the building, in front of the boxes of play sets and then entered the store to make the purchase. I paid for the unit and was told that an associate would be “right out” to help me load it. In some cases “right out” could mean up to a week.
I exited the store and stood next to the vehicle as my wife rolled down her window and we chatted while we waited. After 10 minutes, I got tire of waiting…and instead of going back into the store to search for the associate, I decided to just load the play set myself. I walked to the boxes. There were three boxes to the set. Each box weighed about 100lbs and was about 10 ft. long. I picked up box #1 of 3…hoisted it upon my shoulder, while my wife expressed her disapproval from the window.
“You shouldn’t be doing that…you are going to hurt yourself…you should wait for some help.”
“I can handle it…look, I already have it on my shoulder.”
“You are going to hurt your back…”
“I’m fine…who knows how long we would have to wait.”
I walked to the vehicle…turned it lengthwise…to parallel the long station wagon. I elevated the box to place it onto the luggage rack on top of the car. As I approached the vehicle, my right foot stepped off of the curb. I went down…to my back…flat…with the entire box lying across my chest. As I lay there I saw the associate who had finally decided to come out to help…just in time to see me fall. My eyes and ears were directed to the passenger window of the car that is just a few inches above the box that lays across my chest, as my wife poked her head out the window to say…”I told you not to try and do it yourself…”
“Thanks dear…I got that.”
The young teenage associate came up and asked if I was ok. I said that I was…not telling him that my pride had been permanently marred.
Together, we lifted the three boxes onto the Taurus without incident. I strapped tied them down…and we went home without further incident, but an unforgettable lesson.
I think I often get it wrong. Far too often I default to individualism? I am not sure where the drive for individualism comes from, but I have come to believe that the Church was never meant to be done alone. We need each other. The Church is called to love one another. We cannot love one another…unless we are together. Certainly togetherness has been challenged with the recent cultural challenges of the pandemic. Yet, I believe that we are called to remain connected. Acts 19:23-20:38, shows us a series of encouraging words that Paul shares with a number of the New Testament churches. If we take a broad view of these passages we see the deep love that the church shares with each other. That is the picture that the Holy Spirit is working to build in our churches. May we come to see that church is not meant to be done alone. Rather, it is created for community. It is created to love one another…and to encourage one another. May we live…what we see Paul live.