Have you ever noticed when you encourage someone, you encourage yourself? I’m thankful for the many times to encourage others. Now, believe me, I don’t sit down and list who I plan to encourage or who I think I’ve encouraged. Sometimes, I’m sure I miss the moment altogether–when a friend or relative could really use the words to ‘keep on keeping on.’ As a child, the story of Barnabas spurred me to desire for my own, the qualities his life. No one else in biblical history acquired the name, “Son of Encouragement.”
As I evaluate, just this past week, there have been some great opportunities.
My grandson, Cooper, neared the completion of a major project in sixth grade social studies. He’s found it hard to accept help from either of his parents. I offered to help as I reminded him that he was sitting at the same dining room table on which I had done homework two generations ago. What did I find? He had great ideas and had all of the artwork for the civilization project completed. He just finds it difficult to get his thoughts ‘through the end of his finger’ as it grasps his pencil. Am I ever glad that I was taught to have a student tell me what they want to say, write it down for them, and then have them copy it off. Then we were on to check the spelling. . .sometimes spellcheck on a laptop corrects spelling to a completely different word. He grimaced a few times, but I acted as if I didn’t notice until the work was completed.
A twenty-something young man in my Bible study group, Travis, spent the night in the hospital after a four-wheeler accident. As he said, “It could have been worse.” Stitches in his head, scraped up shoulder and elbow, and securing two fingers back to his right hand seemed no small feat to me. I don’t know what he thought, but I ‘showed up’ to let him know those of us from church cared that he hurt. . .and he was certainly hurting.
Graduation parties galore are being held in my area. Janin, daughter of a dear friend, invited me to hers. I was so impressed with the school-colors themed tablecloths, chair covers tied with gold, the photo collection, and the entire table of every imaginable kind of candy. No, I didn’t tell her I could not imagine that little dark-haired smiling eight year old was graduating high school. I won’t know if the bracelet inside the small graduation cap box engraved with, “In all thy ways, acknowledge Him. . .” will be the encouragement I meant–but then, for some things I need to trust.
Then there was the phone call from fourteen year old, Ryann–my eldest grandchild who told her parents, “Grandma Zeta would let me do it.” Do you think I would ever encourage someone to ‘skip’ a school field trip? She was more than disappointed with my answer; I could hear her parents chuckling in the background as our conversation continued. I wonder if Barnabas ever gave negative encouragement?
Three persons have asked me to pray for them this week. One is ‘looking forward’ to still another cancer surgery. One on a team delivering shoeboxes to Rwanda with Operation Christmas Child. And one is headed on a Southeast Asia mission trip to share with a people group where there are no known Christians. I’ve never thought of prayer as encouragement–I need to. Perhaps my best encouragement would be to email an actual prayer I’m praying for each.
Are you feeling ‘a bit down’ today? Some days are like that. Let’s both see who we can encourage as we go today–I’m confident we will encourage ourselves.