What a welcome southern invitation bringing thoughts of warmth, good company, and honest labor! Settling down with a cool drink of water and comfortable companionship lifts one’s spirits. After a long but satisfying day of work, I look forward to sitting and relaxing for a while. Don’t you, too?
I find that it’s harder to get to sleep at night if I haven’t given myself some time to just sit and find refreshment in some simple enjoyable things. Easy time talking with a family member is appreciated, as well as some time alone. I look forward to a nice quiet spot by myself where I can read or write, spend some time in thought, pray, and do other things which I enjoy.
What are some things that refresh you after a long or busy day or week? Those of us who are caregivers may be especially challenged to create moments to refresh yourselves. Seeking ways to pause, if only for brief breaks, will do much for our frame of mind and our ability to do our best with a positive attitude.
This reminds me that even Jesus was intentional about creating those times. As he was traveling with his disciples, they stopped at a well and Jesus sent the disciples off to town to buy some food. He sat down by the well, tired and thirsty, seeking refreshment and welcoming the pause.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. John 4:6
I remember my childhood days of warm summer evenings playing outside with my brothers and neighborhood friends. I hear again the sounds of occasional passing cars, televisions, and our laughs and shouts, as our parents sat and talked after finishing the day’s chores… drinking from that well that comes from God. I remember times when we gathered with my family around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and enjoying each other. I’m thankful for those times and for opportunities to create them now, to pause and be refreshed.
May you be blessed this week as you rest in your travels and sit down by the well. Prayers for refreshment and renewal, quiet times of rest, and comfortable companionship!
Have you ever heard or expressed these same words? When taken by surprise, when the unexpected or unplanned hits us head-on, this simple phrase expresses it all! Fill in the blank.
Never, never, never… A word that can express relief, disappointment, anger, conviction, and so much more.
– I never have to go there again!
– We never thought they would do such a thing.
– I’m never going to talk to him again!
– I’ll never give up.
Sometimes “never” is a positive word, a practical expression of the end of use for some item (That’ll never come clean or That can never be repaired). At other times “never” is a call of desperation. Think of the times when you’ve worked to complete, learn, or do something and you reach the point when out of frustration or exhaustion you just think, “I’ll never get this done!” When we reach such low points, “never” can loom its head and drive our thoughts downward. We struggle with self-doubt, need, or depression… echoes of The Raven’s “nevermore”!
How do we cope when our thoughts take a plunge?! When “never” seems like a dark storm approaching? Pausing for some quiet time and prayer sure helps. It would be so nice to have some support too, someone to help out or to be a sounding board and understanding presence.
That reminds me of when Jesus spoke of satisfying hunger and thirst, not just physical satisfaction but a deeper hunger and thirst for a full and significant life. He knows our need for forgiveness of wrongs, for peace and happiness, and for God. Jesus was saying that all who come to him will never go hungry or thirsty for what really matters in life. He will never turn anyone away who comes to him. Now those are some good “never-s”! *
As we encounter our “never”, surprised by the unexpected or unplanned, may we be drawn to God’s “ever” …ever with us and ever satisfying our greatest longings and needs.
Crash! “Oh, no! I didn’t know that was there!” “Goodness gracious! What happened now?!” Responding with good grace we cleaned up the mess together.
Ever been in a situation like that? … I was thinking about how we use the words grace and gracious in so many ways. Handy for many circumstances! “Grace” is the middle name we gave our daughter and “gracious” is literally “filled with God’s grace”. They are beautiful words rich in meaning.
What thoughts or pictures do these two words bring to your mind? Perhaps you think of love, kindness, goodwill, forgiveness, generosity, and maybe a certain ease or elegance…
Can you think of some positive uses of these words? Maybe you have another saying or proverb. Here in the south, we “say grace” when we offer thanks to God before a meal. We are grateful when we have “gracious plenty”, whether that is something physical, emotional, or spiritual. A person’s “saving grace” is some quality about them that balances or makes up for not-so-great qualities. Responding “with good grace”, with patience and politeness, is a good attribute to pursue! Whom of us have not appreciated a “grace period” for some overdue or forgotten responsibility or chore? “Goodness gracious” fills many a need for expressions of surprise, dismay, or awe… Sometimes there are just no other words.
What about some other phrases that express our needs or mistakes?! “By the grace of God” acknowledges our own need for God, as well as our humility and our compassion for others who are in difficult circumstances. We all “fall from grace” at times, losing favor or the liking of others, whether it is a word misspoken or unsaid, miscommunication, or any number of perceived or real shortcomings.
I can relate to Paul as he talked about grace in his letters to the church in Corinth. He said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect” *(1 Corinthians 15:10). He reminds us that it’s God’s grace that brings life and that we need to extend that grace to others. Paul called this the “grace of giving”. Isn’t that a wonderful way of putting it?!
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7
My prayers for us all is that even as we receive God’s awesome gift of grace, we will also excel in this grace of giving.
These words between friends, family members, or others are an expression of mutual affection and support. Have you ever considered how powerful they are?
For those on the receiving end, these simple phrases can bring a wealth of meaning, can’t they? I’m happy… We’re enjoying each other’s company… You’re special. They can also express empathy and compassion. I’m so sorry… I regret what happened… I still care.
What about when we speak those words? Sometimes it is so easy to say them, especially when we are happy and are spending enjoyable time in each other’s company. In parting, they are reminders for each other which we take with us, lifting each other up and bringing smiles to faces.
Have you ever struggled to say or to return them? Maybe there has been some strain in your relationship, some hurt or struggle… some unkind or ill-spoken thought. How difficult they can be to say in the face of great loss. Death, poor health prognosis, violence, or our own failures… In those times “love you” and “love you too” can be both painful and healing.
As I was reading in the book of Romans this morning, I came upon a word that expresses these very thoughts!
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” *
I was curious about the word “honor”, so I looked up the meaning for its use in this passage [Yes, a bit nerdy maybe but doing this has really helped me to understand verses in the Bible better!]. It said: “a valuing by which the price is fixed (of the price itself, of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold); honor which belongs or is shown to one (by reason of rank…, deference, reverence)“.
Honor is linked with price and value… and (in that passage) with love! 1Corinthians 6:20 uses the same word, translated as “price”. “For you are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” It struck me of the great price already paid for us through Jesus. Each of us are loved, valued, and honored. Do we love, value, and honor each other to this extent? How do we even wrap our minds around that?!
My prayer for us today, is that we will be more aware of the power of these simple words to and from God and with others. May we use them often, with greater appreciation and understanding. May we be transformed and filled as we both give and receive.