Fourteen times in the New Testament we are encouraged to encourage one another. Honestly, I think it is one of the most awesome gifts you can give someone. It doesn’t cost anything, except a bit of space in your life to think about them and what you might say or do that would lighten their load or brighten their day. Though the dictionary defines ‘encourage’ as “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence or to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.”, I think of it simply as putting courage into someone else’s heart.
That takes on added meaning reading some of Dr. Brown’s material that I referred to last week. What people need most in the midst of vulnerability, shame, and uncertainty is to have the courage to be authentically who they are today and know that is enough. I would add that this courage comes best from knowing that we are loved, that God is not distant from us in our pain or brokenness, and that he will work all things out for good no matter what we face.
Encouraging someone is to give them a gift of word or act that helps them have more courage to face what they are facing. You encourage people not by giving them advice about what they should do, nor by pushing them to do what we think best, nor by flattering them with untrue statements, nor by manipulating their behavior to act better. Encouragement does something so much better. It opens their eyes to a greater reality and sets their heart at rest in their unfolding journey
What prompted this thought today? Two things, actually! Last week I received an email from a woman I had met briefly in Germany before one of my teaching times. Just before I got up we had sung the chorus,”There Is None Like You,” addressed to God, course. The thought that hit me while we were singing, is that while this is definitely true of God, do we ever think that God would say such things to us. It’s what I say to Sara, my kids and grandkids, and even to friends. “There is none like you. No one else can touch my heart like you do.”
So when I got up I began to share that and even turned to this woman I’d just met, whose name came back to mind, pointed at her and said, “What if you knew Father was saying to you today, there is none like you?” Unbeknownst to me she had been go through a rough season and was hurt and confused because they had been thrown out of their “church” for asking the wrong questions. This is what she wrote me:
When you said to me, “There is no one like you!”, Father spoke that right into my heart and he kept on speaking to me that he knows my heart and that I shouldnt be bothered be what the church leaders said about me. He made me the way I am and he wanted me that way, and he has put the desires in my heart, that they didn’t like. The message you are sharing, Wayne, is the same message God has put on my heart, and I´m willing to spend the rest of my life to proclaim who God really is, how much he loves us, and how much he wants to heals our hearts! I wanted to let you know how much you blessed me that weekend. God took all pain and confusion and my feeling depressed away…and I´m happy again and know what I´m living for!
I love when God does things through something I’m doing and I’m not even aware of it. To think that little phrase spoken directly to this woman would unleash such a well of God’s light and courage into her heart, blows me away with how big this God is, and how much our words can give someone else courage to continue on the path God has for them. No wonder Scripture reminds us to “Encourage each other daily.” What a gift! And it doesn’t take much. Sometimes it an be an off-the-cuff comment like mine, and sometimes it comes from just holding someone in God’s presence and thinking about what God might be saying to that person to invite them in to a greater confidence in Father’s love for them.
The second reason this came to mind this morning is that while I was preparing Sara’s prescriptions and breakfast this morning, I thought how wonderful it would be for Sara to receive some encourage notes today. She’s been through quite a weekend, and now three days after surgery is where the real work of recovery sets in and she realizes it’s going to take some time away from all the things she normally loves to do. And all of this has come at her in a time where she’s already pretty vulnerable from the surgeries Father has been doing in her heart, that we talked about on the podcast a few weeks ago.
So I would love it if some of you had it on your heart to day to share some things with Sara that you think Father might be saying to her. You can post some of that here on the blog, or on the FaceBook posting, if it pointed you here. I’ll read them to her throughout the day. Or, if you want to address something to her more personally you can write hear at the office email. I’m somewhat hesitant to do that, thinking Sara we might be overwhelmed with comments and postings, and also knowing there are millions of people in situations like hers and worse that may not get any encouragement today.
So, here’s what I thought of. If you’d like to send something to encourage Sara today, please do, especially if you know her. And then maybe you could let God show you someone else near you who needs encouragement today. You could send either the same encouragement to them, or even something different that’s on your heart. And then, why stop with one! Who around you can use some courage, and what might you simply say that could be a turning point for them today. Then do it. Send a email, or leave a note for your spouse or co-worker. Call someone up just to say, “I’ve been thinking about you and just wanted you to know that Father…”
Filling the world with encouragement today, might ripple through the cosmos in ways we’ll never fully appreciate in this life. But that would only make it more fun!