When I was at Spurgeon’s, our Pastoral Care lecturer told us that he had spoken to his mother on the phone recently. She had told him that she had gone to an evening fellowship group at someone’s house, and when she had arrived, the young assistant minister was already there and had made himself at home in the most comfortable armchair available. “Tell your students not to do that,” she told her son. He passed this on to us, not because it had anything to do with pastoral care but because he was just doing what his mum had told him to do. My time at Spurgeon’s was very beneficial to me, but as far as practical lessons go, that was one of the few that I can remember. I’ve always chosen my seat very carefully since. There’s wisdom in some of these old ladies.
Rev. Tim Ditchfield was the chaplain at my university. I remember him saying that if you asked him who was the holiest person that he knew, he would have to pick an old lady who had been at the church where he was a student. He said that she didn’t have the appearance of holiness, being a old lady who lived in a block of flats and smoked like a chimney, but she and God had an understanding. He told a fantastic story to back this up. I’m not 100% sure of some of the unimportant details, but it’s too good a story to not share.
Coincidentally, this is also a fellowship group armchair story. They were meeting at this old lady’s flat and the group was one chair short this particular evening. Tim offered to sit on the floor, but the old lady wouldn’t hear of it. “Let’s pray about it,” she said. She then proceeded to lead the group in a prayer that went something like this: “God, you know we need another chair for this meeting, so please provide one. Oh, and make it a green one, because green is my favourite colour.” She then said to Tim, “You’d better go and get this chair then.”
Tim left the flat and wandered up and down the corridor outside totally at a loss as to what to do. What a crazy situation to find yourself in. Then just as he was passing the lift he heard a ping. He watched as the doors slid open. The lift was empty, except for a single green armchair.
Some of those dear old ladies are dangerous.