“May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!” Romans 15:5-6, The Message
The old saying goes “Some days are better than others.” There are days when I do everything right and check everything off my list, but still feel out of sorts. I don’t always think time is passing too slowly as I glance at the clock or tear another page off my calendar, but sometimes I do. I can open the packed refrigerator and not find anything “good” to eat. It doesn’t add up when I know for a fact that blessings are all around me. I might try taking a walk or throwing a ball to the dog and that does help a little. I pray and fiddle with my attitude controls, trying to tune into God’s song of hope so I can climb out of the doldrums. One incredible weapon I’ve been able to use against these occasional blues is you. I’ve been so encouraged by you! I read about what you are up to in the ways you serve, and I hear about good things in phone calls or from others in a meeting. I’ve even crafted a wall of encouragement near my workspace so I can keep my eyes filled with your kindness and whenever I look at it, my heart bursts with gratitude. I’ve noticed that whenever my spirits are sinking, it’s almost as if you know about it! I inevitably receive a text, find a card in my mailbox or receive an email that arrives like a fresh breeze into a stuffy house. God has given us each other. While I was writing this very devotional, a church member called to check on me! I’ve called to check on him and his family, so he wanted to call and check on me. It was the best and most timely surprise. One thing that he invited me to do was to open my hand, then take my thumb and press it to my index finger. He said, “Let that remind you that everything is gonna be okay!” (You’ll need to try that out for it to make sense). We both laughed at the okay sign I had made using his instructions. The last thing he did was pray with me over the phone.
Jesus always gathered people together in love and urged them to accept love and give love. One of the ways we express love is through encouragement. People thrive on encouragement. An actor who starred as one of the Von Trapp children in the film “The Sound of Music” reflected that almost every day of his life someone encouraged him with their gratitude for the movie and thanked him for his part in it. Think of that, being thanked every single day of your life for one part you played. With Jesus, we have even greater encouragement to offer one another. His love has brought all kinds of people from all walks of life together. Before Jesus was even born, he brought diverse individuals to himself and to each other. Just the mention of his coming stirred the hearts of the prophets and they told his story in advance of his arrival. At his birth, lowly shepherds and foreign kings paid homage. Troubled sinners of all kinds came to the river Jordan and listened as John the Baptist told them about the lamb of God. When Jesus called the disciples to follow him, they too were all so different yet became something more than a band of brothers. They heard the command to love one another and lived their lives like a wall of encouragement. We still read about them, study their efforts, and want to be disciples too. Thank you for your part in building up the body of Christ with the work of love that is encouragement. Each call, each card, and each note strikes a chord of hope in us, doesn’t it? Some days are indeed better than others, especially when we soak up the encouragement given to us in Christ Jesus and find innumerable ways to pour it out on others.