Some years ago in order to celebrate one of my special birthdays Maureen took me on a mystery tour... to Liverpool. And after visiting the Cavern and having my photograph taken in front of the statue of Billy Fury we looked around the International Slavery Museum. This was a very sobering experience chronicling as it did the dehumanising of so many men, women and children who had been enslaved... and purely to satisfy the greed of those in the so-called civilised world! But in the midst of all the photographs and narratives there's a very insightful quote from Frederick Douglass, a former slave and crusader for human rights, which reads...
'No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last
finding the other end fastened about his own neck.'
And I remember the gist of this observation being expressed in a rather different way by former Raith Rovers, Livingston, Rangers and Trinidad footballer, Marvin Andrews, when in sharing his Christian faith with some youngsters, reminded them that the Bible tells us...
'What goes around, comes around.'
Well, I couldn't exactly find chapter and verse for this particular form of words, but of course I'm sure this was his Caribbean way of quoting the following...
'Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever someone sows,
that they will also reap.'
These quotes serve as a stark reminder that choices have consequences, not necessarily immediately, but sometimes at a much later date. This is especially true in how we treat others. And with this in mind let me share with you the following incident.
SHARING AND CARING
For 5 seasons I had the privilege of managing Charlotte Chapel's football team and in the course of one particular game I had an interesting experience. (No, it wasn't that we'd won a game! ...we were actually quite a good team!)
Patrolling the touchline shouting instructions to my players, I became aware of a couple of old guys watching the match. During a lull in the play we got into conversation. I learned that they had both been full-time members of the great Motherwell team of the early 60's.
The slightly younger of the two told me that his companion had been the senior player at the Club when he first joined and that this guy had very kindly taken him under his wing. He'd gone out of his way to show him the ropes and generally make him feel welcome. But he also went on to tell me, out of earshot of his pal, that this former team-mate now suffered from dementia and therefore he now welcomed the opportunity for the roles to be reversed. He considered it only right for it now to be his turn to look after his older friend.
SOWING AND REAPING
But after a while, as I watched them shuffle off into the distance, I couldn't help be struck by what I had just witnessed. This was not only a lovely example of true, loyal and perhaps costly friendship, but also a remarkable example of what the Lord would call 'sowing and reaping'. Yes, within our society where a pre-occupation with 'self' is so prevalent. It was also a very meaningful challenge for me to heed the words that He inspired the Apostle Paul to write to those of us who profess to be His followers...
'Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to all people...
An ever-present challenge for us all, eh?