A Glimpse of Jesus While Overwhelmed with History

by | Jul 9, 2019 | Sheila Snippets | 12 comments

We’ve been having an amazing time in England!

We spent a few days in London, and then we’ve been in Oxford for two days now. I won’t share all my photos; there are too many. But here are just a few snapshots of what we’ve been seeing and doing! Just a few iconic things around London–the obligatory selfie on Tower Bridge:

On Tower Bridge

Keith and me on the Millennium Bridge, where Harry Potter was filmed:

In Harry Potter land!

And Katie, David and I outside Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey in the background

On Saturday, Keith and I left the kids to explore the British Museum (we’ve done that on previous trips) while Keith and I took double decker buses all over London to track down the addresses I’d found on old census data of where my ancestors lived. We found this area in Camden Town, which would have been quite working class back in the 1800s. And I found the home where my great-grandfather lived before he came to Canada, and where my great-great-grandparents lived at the end of their lives! That was neat.

My great-great-grandparents’ home

Here they were, around 1910, when it looks like they were just putting in the molding around the door (it appears it was under construction in the background): In Oxford, we’ve been exploring C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien history. Here we are, with our friend Paul, who lives here and who has been showing us around, outside the Eagle and Child pub, where Lewis and Tolkien and a number of other writers, named “The Inklings”, met every Tuesday for drinks and a chat.

The Eagle and Child Pub

And here’s a door with a special place in my heart! The story goes that one wintry, snowy night, C.S. Lewis exited from the side door of University Church and saw in front of him this wooden door, with a lion carved into it and creatures above it. He then turned to the right, and he saw this lamppost, lit up, with snow all over it.

The most famous lamppost in the world!

And it became the most famous lamppost in the world, because when he combined these two elements, he started thinking about the start of a story, concerning a little girl named Lucy who was billeted him with him during the Blitz, when children had been evacuated from London, wandering through a wardrobe, into the snow, and finding a lamppost, and meeting a faun….and the rest I hope you know (and if you don’t, you should. It’s magical!) And now just a small story.

Sometimes you see Jesus in the smallest ways.

We were on the Tube (the subway) and it was super busy. A number of raucous teenagers were further down the car, drinking beer and laughing and yelling. After a few stops Keith and I were able to sit down. An older woman, likely near 70, walked on the subway, appearing very weighed down and tired. I was thinking Keith or I should get up and let her sit down, when suddenly a man sitting across from us, maybe 30, picked up his backpack, stood up, and smiled at her, saying, “would you like a seat?” The fatigue on the woman’s face melted away in a big smile, and she sat down. The two of them then started sharing secret smiles whenever the teenagers down the car got particularly ridiculous, laughing together at it. And two stops later he got off the train. They were two people on a subway, one of whom was tired and older, and one who was young, and they made a brief connection of kindness. It was just a momentary thing, but my big thought in seeing all that was, “That made Jesus happy.” Just a small thing, but I think Jesus was happy when that man sat down. Now, here’s where more of my thoughts went.

I think so often we over-Christianize some things.

Too often I’m afraid I approach my interactions with people with mixed motives. I think, “I need to give this woman a seat because I need to treat her as I would treat Jesus,” or else “I need to do this for Jesus.” And it becomes a duty. But when I make it about Jesus, I miss the point. Jesus doesn’t want us loving people because in loving people we love Him; He wants us just plain loving people. What’s the difference? Bear with me for a moment, but this is important. When we try to treat others well because in so doing we make Jesus happy and we serve Jesus, then too often we don’t see the people. We see instead the work that we are doing. We think, “See, Jesus, look what I am doing for you!” I don’t think Jesus wants that. I think Jesus just wants us seeing people. In fact, we often assume that the good that people who don’t know Jesus do doesn’t count because it isn’t done for God. But Jesus wants people being kind towards each other, and treating others as we would want to be treated, and when we do that, whether or not we know Him, we do make Him happy. I don’t know if that man was a Christian or not. But whether or not he was, in that brief moment he made God happy, because he looked up and he saw that woman and he cared. When we look at other people, we need to see them as Jesus would, yes. But that doesn’t mean that we approach every thing we do as if it’s a duty for Jesus, because that can make us proud and work-based. It means we need to actually see the people. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I hope that we can just see and love people, because THAT’S what Jesus did. He noticed people, He didn’t just say, “See, Father, I know this person matters to you, so I will do this for you.” No, he just lived in the moment loving people. And that, I think is the point of it. When we do everything for the glory of God, it isn’t that we consider everything a work that we do for God; it’s that, as we love others, we bring glory to God. Does that make sense? And, as the Holy Spirit is in us, He helps us just notice people as Jesus would. That’s what matters! Whatever you’re doing today, then, look at the people around you, and appreciate them, just for who they are. Celebrate what is good in them, even if they don’t know Christ the way you may. It’s okay to see goodness, wherever it may be. And let’s spread love by truly seeing and appreciating people, because that is what Jesus did. Does that make sense? And have you seen anything super cool this summer, either in a big moment or a tiny moment? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Susanna Musser

    I completely agree that we just need to love people! I have found this SO hard to verbalize to Christians! It’s not my job to save people or what have you! Just to put my life where my mouth is and LOVE PEOPLE!!

  2. clb

    One of Mother Teresa’s frequently quoted bible verses was “whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you did it to me” which she often shortened to just “you did it to me.” If we truly see Christ in everyone we meet, then it’s not an either/or proposition of either “serving/loving Christ” or “serving/loving others,” but is instead very much a “both and” situation. If we don’t see Christ in others – even in those others who don’t believe in Christ – then we’re not seeing people the way we should.

  3. Hannah

    What a lovely story! My husband and I are moving out of state this weekend, and I have been so touched by the kind things people have done for us. We went to church on Sunday to say goodbye to our friends, and the pastor announced unexpectedly that we were moving, and did we need any help? We don’t really on this end (friends have already volunteered), but we appreciated it.

    Anyway, after service a couple approached me and asked if we were the ones moving. Apparently they live 20ish minutes from our new house and had just happened to be visiting our church because of a family wedding (!). We exchanged numbers, and yesterday they texted and asked if we need help moving in. Do we ever! Of course we took them up on their very gracious offer, and we appreciate it more than we say. The kindness of strangers sometimes means even more than the kindness of friends.

    • Natalie

      That’s such a sweet story, Hannah! Hope you have a successful, not-too-stressful move! We moved from CA to TX a couple years ago, and what a blessing it would’ve been to already know at least one couple in our new area! I hope you get established in your new town well & that it feels like home really soon. 🙂

      • Hannah

        Thank you! 🙂

  4. KellyK

    Glad you are having a great time in London!

    I wrote a book report my senior year of high school on CS. Lewis’s The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. I explained how the author used each character of the book in an analogy to God and Jesus, etc. Got an A 😉

  5. Natalie

    Wow! That’s SOOO cool about visiting your ancestors’ homes! I love genealogy and family history and stuff like that. 😀 Also, I love those details about The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe! I had no idea that’s how the idea for the book came about. So cool! And it’s heartwarming to hear people still have manners, even in a big city like London. 🙂 (But of course, if the English as a whole suddenly lacked manners, I shutter to think what society as a whole would be like at that point, haha). To think, I lived a year in Ireland during college (study abroad) & travelled extensively to Scotland where my husband was also studying abroad at the time, but somehow NEVER made it to actual England! That’s such a shame to me, since I have a lot of family history in London, greater Manchester and also the Lake District areas, all of which I’d love to see someday. Hopefully we’ll be able to go in several years once the kids are a little older to see the sights we missed out on & to also visit our old stomping grounds and see my best friend in Dublin. Hope you 4 continue to have a lovely, safe trip!

  6. Becky

    I know this isn’t the main point of the post, but I’m ridiculously excited to see your picture of THE lamp post. The Narnia series was so formative for me, both spiritually and for my reading tastes, and has stayed an enduring favorite. I’m actually naming my daughter Lucy because of those books. (And taking her middle name from Tolkien, so my inner geek is quite happy with your travelogue!)

  7. Dean

    Did you see the Temple Church? It is very beautiful and interesting.

  8. Lizzie Carter

    I have enjoyed seeing photos from your trip! My husband and I spent 6 weeks in Great Britain this spring, and it was amazing. 🙂

  9. KellyK

    So, I’m a registered nurse in a male correctional facility. I work with some of the dregs of society. Been there almost 5 years. Yes, my patients are incarcerated. However, that does not take away from the fact that they are also human beings. I am ‘nice’ to all of them, even though I had a Guard tell me that I didn’t need to be.

    My philosophy is that I could easily been in their place. I’m not perfect. I’ve broken the law. I just never got caught. So, I treat them with respect as a fellow human. I have told them when I first started the job that I will give you respect so long as you do the same. If you ever disrespect me, I will ONLY do what is required of me by the Dept of Corrections AND the Board of Nursing.

    Now, the ‘nicer’ inmates? I will go the extra mile for them (within reason since I can’t show favoritism) Like if their med expired, I’ll put in the sick call for them.

    Prisoners are people too! They are in prison as punishment, NOT to BE punished.

  10. J. Parker

    I never much liked the “what would Jesus do” admonition. (For one thing, he’d calm storms, and I can’t.) Rather, I like the idea of becoming like Jesus; that is, who does Jesus want us to BE? And when we become true disciples, it’s just who we are, with the Spirit in us, and we don’t have to think about every situation separately but simply live that out in the world. Great story, Sheila!

    AND I loved London so much when I went there in 2015. Can’t wait to go back and take the hubby this time. I was with a friend then, and we even got to attend evening Easter service at Westminster. What a treat!


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