Posted by: Kara Luker | January 30, 2012

Some very broad shoulders

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

I’m very grateful to my sister who alerted me to the new season of Downton Abbey, a brilliantly written and acted soap opera – period piece, I mean – which was left unresolved at the end of the initial mini-series last year. I’ve now made it through the first two-hour installment of the new season and eagerly anticipate watching the following installments, collecting by the week on my DVR.

We are already familiar with the characters of the Crawley estate, from the aristocrats to the servants, and are now witnessing the changing dynamics of the household as England enters World War I. I was quite taken with a conversation between Ana, a sympathetic housemaid, and Mrs. Patmore, the estate’s cook who has just received word that a loved one is missing in action and presumed dead.

Ana: “Why don’t you ask the master for help?” 
Mrs. Patmore: “I don’t like to bother him.” 
Ana: “Why not? He’s got broad shoulders.”

The master of the estate is well-connected and able to find the necessary details for the anguished cook. Both women are aware of this fact. But Ana knows the character of her master; that he is willing – not just able – to act on his servant’s behalf. With no other possible avenue of resolve, Mrs. Patmore begrudgingly agrees to request help from her master and is rewarded by a personal experience of his generosity in agreeing to seek out the desired information, his faithfulness in following through, and his kindness through the care with which he communicates his findings. The lowly cook is bestowed with dignity by the gentle humility of the highest in the house.

Strong and powerful people are rarely seen as approachable. There is often good cause for this; we see it acted out daily in society. How quickly, then, if we see God as strong and powerful, we may conclude that he won’t have the time to listen or the care to bother with our troubles. But if we, like Ana, know the character of our master or, like Mrs. Patmore, have the courage to test it, our God will demonstrate his willingness to extend himself on our behalf every single time. It is not a patronizing response, but one of true compassion birthed of a humble love for his people. How much our confidence in approaching him will grow as we ask for help and find it in greater measure than we ever could have imagined. And how lovely it is as we become servants who know our master and confidently nudge others toward the broad shoulders that so lovingly carry our burdens.

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Psalm 62:11-12


  1. Wonderful example of our Father’s accessibility Kara! By the way, what channel is this show on? It sounds like one that Rich and I would enjoy????

    • Oh you would absolutely love it. It is on PBS. You can get the first season on Netflix and it looks like you can watch whole episodes of the second season on the PBS website to get caught up. I am not a lover of TV but this really feels worth the time. Ok. I’m done with my plug 🙂

      • Thanks dear one!

  2. Beautifully said Kara!

    • Thank you Kelly! Seeing your name made me want to see your face too.

  3. Love it! I need my accessible Father God these days.

    • Oh my gosh. So do I. What a great reminder it was to me. I caught myself wringing my hands and fretting myself like the cook – several times even today – with something I could so easily have taken to the master.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: