An Escalator Experience

By Pastor Shonica David

This past weekend, I found myself joining many Northern Virginians taking part in some tax-free weekend shopping at the mall. I was on a mission to search for a backpack, so I ventured into one particular store. As I looked through the backpacks, I happened to notice that there were two young girls at the escalator. The oldest girl, who was probably 13 or 14, was literally facing the wrong direction on the escalator and trying to walk it down to get to the second girl, who was probably six years old.

Several times, in a game-like fashion, the oldest girl would walk up backwards a short distance, come back down towards the little girl, and then slowly repeat it again.  I assumed that the two girls were somehow related. That they were probably over their back to school shopping experience with a parent and decided to create their own entertainment by playing on the escalator.

I continued with my shopping and needed to go up to the top floor to look at other options. I approached the escalators where the girls were still in the same positions. I excused myself to get on the escalator, and the girls graciously complied with my request.  After I got on the escalator, I realized that I was wrong. When I walked past the younger girl, I noticed the scared look on her face and how she was shaking her head no. It turns out, the older girl was trying to help the younger girl navigate conquering a fear of riding the escalator. She was patiently modeling how to step onto the escalator step and ride it to the top. It made total sense in the end but it was an unexpected experience that taught me a lesson.

The Lord gives us direction, hope and guidance in our faith journey through avenues such has His Word, prayer, and community. He is so patient with us and truly loving. There are times that we are like the older girl - we are called to model, encourage, and patiently walk a difficult process with a friend in Christ.  Our encouragement may look repetitive, and it may seem like it’s not actually helping the scenario, or maybe even the fear is so real and overwhelming it compels us to stop. Our prayers, from our perspective, may even feel like they are not doing much. Yet we’re still called to continue in the journey and to walk through things together.

I have a dear friend that went through some difficult years. She was asking some hard questions and going through a heavy season. She was looking to Christ, but she was weary.
I can remember one particular evening where we were communicating via text messages and I was trying to encourage her. I’ve pulled a portion of my old texts (the ones that that I sent to her) as they remind me of the escalator experience:

“Hey friend, don't be discouraged or lose hope. This is all the more reason to keep patiently trusting the Lord with this. This whole process is a delicate journey and God sees all that's happening. He isn't surprised and He still cares in an intricate, precise way. If it's part of His will, then let's let Him work out those details.

Keep being faithful with all things. Keep seeking Him, running to Him when things hurt, or when don't make sense or don't feel fair. I've been there multiple times and I’ve really had to try and do just that. I'd be lying if I told you it's not easy. But God has given me grace to sustain - each and every time…

But in spite of it all, God is still good. He is on the throne, He loves me at my lowest and everything in between. And He is a loving, all-sufficient, all-knowing Savior who knows my heart, desires and future. Cling to that and so much more truth my sweet sister.”

There are times when I too find myself like the little sister, when the fear is overwhelming and so real it causes me to pause, and dear friends in Christ have stood in the gap to encourage and pray for me. Whether it’s a phone call out of the blue, a text message, a note, or prayers lifted up on my behalf, those things have given me tangible hope from the Lord.

I believe that the Lord is gracious to allow us to have both experiences in our lives. Perhaps you’re the cheerleader that’s called to guide, model and encourage someone with their escalator experience. That someone could be in your own family, a neighbor, a dear friend, an unbelieving co-worker, or someone in our church family. You’re helping them wherever they are in their faith journey by continually pointing them to the Lord and His truth. It may get heavy and arduous, but steady on, dear one!

Maybe you’re like the little girl and what’s happening or what’s ahead for you is daunting, frustrating, and overwhelming. I invite you to seek out the Lord but also intentionally seek out community. It’s likely that you are surrounded by people who are willing to lend a helping hand or take a praying knee (or both!). Find a few believers and ask them to lift you up as you carry these burdens. Then, I encourage you to find a way to offer the same hope and encouragement for someone else down the road.

Back to the escalator, a few minutes after I arrived to the top floor, I happened to look over in one direction and noticed the older girl and the younger girl walking around together. I have no clue if there was a successful ride up the escalator or a frustrated walk to an elevator. I hope the little girl will understand the love of the older girl in those moments. I hope the older girl learned a lesson on perseverance. I smiled and kept shopping as I thought of the journey and the lessons that I learned from both of them.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12




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