This last week I have been on holiday, and was given by my long-suffering husband the gift of a short massage to untangle my neck after months of writing and edits hunched over the pc. So far, so good.
So I made my way down into the spa, which was downstairs in a hotel. I'm not used to frequenting these places, so am always a little out of my comfort zone. All went well, however, at least once I had clumsily clambered on to the table... She was quiet, did a helpful sorting of my tortured muscles, and left me with a glass of water, declaring the fateful words "You will be able to find your way up to reception, won't you?"
Now, for those of you who don't know me well, a word of explanation is needed. Firstly, I am an extreme introvert with the ability to live entirely in my head with absolutely so capacity for observation of my surroundings. Secondly, whilst I am very good at giving directions from a two dimensional map, anything with three dimensions inexplicably confuses me. So I should have realised that this simple task would in actuality be quite beyond me.
So, of course, I got lost. This might seem impossible in a simple corridor in a small spa, but I achieved it with great ease. Within a short time the confident start took me to a darkened area which seemed to house rooms which were either staff only or maintenance for the lifts. Rather than seek assistance (though, in my defence, I am unsure where I could have found any since there appeared to be no human life in that part of the building). I ploughed on, convinced that in time I would find an escape route.
Which I did, breaking through into light with the same delight as an ancient explorer discovering a new territory. In contrast with any welcome or shared joy I might have hoped for however, the spa receptionist glared at me with a mix of incomprehension and positive hostility. Now this was understandable, since I had emerged from a part which was designated only for the favoured few. However it served to add to my embarrassment, which was only ameliorated by the fact I knew I never needed to go there again.
As I reflected, and laughed at myself, it occurred to me that both the therapist and the receptionist resembled the way we can be as Christians. Firstly, we can be quite happy to expect people to find their own way into friendship with Jesus rather than actually take time to companion them on the journey and help them find their way. Secondly, when someone does make it, perhaps looking a little dishevelled, we are unnecessarily bothered about where they have come from, and judging if the route they have taken is the one we think it should be, rather than being delighted at their arrival.
It is easy, for all sorts of reasons, to get lost. And it makes a profound difference to people when we walk with them, and welcome them unreservedly when they find their way back.