“I’ll be back in a little while,” my mom would say, as she headed out the door to check on some neighbor. They would often call on “Ms. Marge” with questions or concerns about their health, perhaps needing their blood pressure checked, and my mother was always attentive. With her nursing background, we sometimes referred to her as “the neighborhood nurse.” She would make sure they were alright or encourage them to get to the doctor’s office, often taking them herself. My mom was a very caring and giving person.
We are each a part of “community,” and it is by reaching out to each other, using our unique abilities or interests to support and encourage, that we find fulfillment. Whether in times of unrest and difficulty or in everyday routines, how will we rise to the opportunities that we encounter? How will we give and receive care, and so allow God’s light to shine?
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he spoke of his own ministry. “…But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”
I think of my family, friends, and church who have offered their presence, resources, fellowship, practical help, and prayers. What an encouragement! How overwhelmed, humbled, and thankful I have been for them. In big and small ways, we care for each other. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to what others are able to do, can’t it? I’m glad to be able to offer what I can and to express my gratitude when that care is offered to me.
Paul, this time to the Galatians, reminds us, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” May our words and our actions speak God’s voice, and may we receive and offer grace when we fall short.
My prayer is that we do not miss those opportunities amid the rush and whirl of our daily activities… God bless. Be content.
• We choose to build up or to tear down • Consider your words before you speak, and you will not lament the after • Criticizing in condemnation shuts the door on growth and grace • A careless tongue is like a roaring volcano • An open mouth without consideration often spews flames of hurt • Words of encouragement sweeten the most bitter • What you say or don’t say reveals your character • Wise instruction is a great treasure • The words of others which you eat and drink, will come back up in your own voice • Harsh words shred our soul and tear our heart • Restraint is a strength, so cover your mouth when needed • Fresh air breaths light into a day like songs of praise • Friendship and respect welcome all words shared • Give heed to the eternal Word which is full of grace and might
Ah! The joy of releasing tired, hot feet from the confines of shoes and socks! My mom and I used to kid about our “hillbilly blood” because our shoes inevitably fell off when we came home. Warm summer rain showers were the perfect opportunity for my brothers and me to splash barefoot up and down our gravel drive in town. On summer trips with the family, I remember digging my toes into the soft warm dirt of my grandparents’ country drive. Have you ever walked through a wet vegetable garden and ended up doubling the thickness of the soles of your shoes with mud?! Just walking becomes an effort.
Sometimes our lives get like that, mired down with stuff that drags us down and overwhelms. We splash barefoot before God in our pain and doubt and it is difficult to see joy. When His wonderful grace and love showers down upon us, we in our weariness do not always see it. We may be unable to receive until it has had time to soak in. I love the words of the psalmist who wrote, (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. * Like on those warm summer days, we can dig our toes into the strength of His being. God lifts us up and sets us on solid ground. What joy and release when we stand with Him in faith, free of the confines of life which weigh us down!
Refresh! … From this word springs images of renewal, encouragement, restoration, provision, and rest. It has even made its way to our keyboard to indicate updates of new data and information, an affirmation of changes made. When we are refreshed we are energized, our minds and bodies cooled from stress or labor, and we are then able to continue forward with greater purpose and confidence.
I enjoy doing yardwork… mowing, trimming, and especially caring for flower, herb, or vegetable gardens. The work itself is a time of refreshment from the weekly chores and responsibilities, a time to engage mind and body in something else and for quiet reflection or companionable activity. A cool splash of water to my face… a drink to quench my thirst… and a shower when all is completed also offer refreshment.
Other thoughts come to mind as well. “Refresh my memory” we may request when a bit of a jog is needed and “refreshments’ are served at gatherings, breaks during meetings, or other times of fellowship. We are refreshed during times of vacation.
Paul’s letter to Philemon and the church which met in Philemon’s home is a wonderfully short letter written out of love and concern for fellow believers. From this letter, we gain additional thought about our need to both be refreshed and offer refreshment.
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people… I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
How often in my busy life do I overlook the opportunity to refresh someone, to offer them love and encouragement?! This is a gift we can all give and is one we also appreciate receiving. Paul let his need to be refreshed be known. A listening ear, a smile and word of appreciation, a touch, and a helping hand… these are simple expressions of God’s own love for each of us. They are a commitment to extend both grace and compassion. In this we refresh the very hearts of others, a deep-down satisfying soul-restoring drink.
For they refreshed my spirit and yours also…
1 Corinthians 16:18