As I sit down to write this afternoon it’s less than 2 feet away!  Given to me by a member of our church, it actually serves a dual purpose. First, it was designed to be used for something more than just as a memento in my office. It’s a sturdy shaft of hardwood with a leather hand grip and well-rounded knob on the end personalized with my name and an engraving of a black bear.  This “walking stick” is meant to be used as a tool to help steady me and my not-so-stable knees on a nature hike or even a nightly stroll around my neighborhood. That’s purpose #1.  But it also serves as a reminder that sometimes we all need a little help to take the next step!   When you stop to consider that second purpose I think you’ll agree with me. 

     Yesterday at church I saw the man who gave me my “walking stick”.  He has a matching one, except for the name on top, and he uses it every day wherever he goes.   Given that he’s a few years older than me, perhaps one day I’ll do the same.  I often tease him that he uses the knob at the end to keep his wife under control, but he assures me it would probably be the other way around since he’s the ornery one.

      A few moments later I saw a guy who had recently had a knee replacement. He had a brand new cane painted a sparkling candy apple red. Just 10 days post-surgery, this guy was moving remarkably well and only using the cane for a minimal amount of support as he broke in his new knee.   He seemed to be pretty adept at making the adjustment in using his new “sidekick”.  He said the cane made life much easier as he was recovering from surgery.

     For years my own dad had a cane with four legs on the bottom.  Each of the four legs had one of those rubber caps that kept them from slipping on a tile or linoleum floor. He named his cane “George” for reasons I never learned. But when he would grin and say that he and “George” were going to take a walk or go somewhere together I couldn’t help but smile. 

     I haven’t yet had to use a cane or even my walking stick to any extent, but I’ve certainly spent more than my share of time on crutches, which are basically designed to accomplish the same purpose. After 5 ACL operations, multiple ankles issues, and a couple of broken feet,  I can fully appreciate the need for a little support when trying to navigate life after an injury.  As much as I didn’t like using crutches, putting up with a cast on my ankle or wearing a boot, I knew they were only there to help me get around easier. 

      As I look over at my “walking stick” this morning I’m reminded of a truth that is far more important than just the benefit this tool can give me and my aching knees.  The fact is, we all need a little help on occasion.  Everyone has to deal with the reality that there are times in our lives when we need some outside support to face the road in front of us.   No one has been exempted from the realities of life.  It’s not an admission of weakness to acknowledge that you need something or someone to lean on.   It always better to have a “George” by our side, especially when we are walking a rough road. 

     Life is a journey.  There are times when the path in front of us is smooth and easy, requiring little or no outside support.  But there are other times when the journey is much more difficult, places where we may find ourselves faltering or feeling a bit unstable.  Those are the times we need something, or someone, to lean on.  It’s not that we are asking this support system, whatever it may be, to take all the weight of the issues we may be facing.  Most likely we just need a little help to take the next step. 

     In my life that type of support has come from a lot of different sources.  Obviously, first and foremost is my personal relationship with God.  Proverbs says, “Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”.   When life gets tough the best place for me to start is to go to the Father and let Him know where I’m struggling.  He doesn’t always clear all the obstacles out of my path, but He does provide a way through the situation that I had not seen from my own limited perspective.  A few thoughts expressed to Him in prayer, or from Him as I read His Word, are often all I need to take the next right step, no matter what the situation may be.

     Music has perhaps been the second best “George” in my life.  I can’t tell you how many times a song has ministered to me and given me the strength to continue.  Whether that is a classic hymn, a southern gospel standard, or a contemporary Christian hit, the message of these songs feel like they were written just for me.  They speak to my heart in a way that very few other things can. They bring renewal of hope, time-tested wisdom, and words of encouragement.  They prop me up emotionally and spiritually when I’m at my weakest.

     It goes without saying that God often also sends others across my path just when I need them.  Like that “walking stick”, cane or crutches,  these people come into my life at my most vulnerable moments to help prop me up and keep me going.  The timing of these interactions is unquestionably ordered by God.  A word of encouragement, a note of support, a simple hug,  a prayerful intercession,  or their commitment to come alongside of me can absolutely change things.  Knowing that I am not walking alone through life’s challenges is a gift.  I never want to take for granted the joy that is mine of sharing my experience with others. 

     I guess when it comes down to it, help comes in a number of different ways if we’re willing to admit we need it.   My “walking stick” standing in the corner of my office won’t really do me any good unless I put it to good use.   God’s willingness to enter into my situation is often waiting for my request to get involved.  The wisdom of the God’s Word doesn’t do me any good if I never open my Bible. The solace of a Christian song can’t be shared if I don’t take the time to listen. The support of a friend won’t be felt if I don’t trust myself in those relationships.

      We all need a little help now and then.  If you’re like me you may try to go it alone far too often.  That stubborn individualism and self-sufficiency has gotten smarter people than me in a lot of trouble.  I want to be open to the support that is offered.  In fact, I think my “walking stick” may get more use in the near future…….I may even name it “GEORGE”.   Thanks Dad! 

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