Tag Archives: encouragement

Sometimes we really need a drink

DSC00667The other day I ran my first 5k race (for all those who have been reading my Facebook posts and listening to my sermons, I won’t keep harping on this forever, I promise!). It wasn’t too bad of a run. As a matter of fact, I think I may do it again some day. I was glad to learn a little about myself during that race. I was also glad God has used that run to help me remember something about His grace and love for me.

A 5k race is 3.1 miles long – so not even close to a long race. But, for the uninitiated runners like myself, it’s a fair distance. The organizers of the race did a great job. They had things set up and got us all moving along without any hiccups. One of the preparations they made included having drink stations at the 1 and 2 mile marks, as well as at the finish of the 5k (or the middle of the 10k for others). Honestly, I was not in need of the drink, though I took one at mile 2. What I did need was the reminder God gave me the next day. It was one that connected my every day life to that 30 minute run.

cup of waterThe reminder came on Sunday evening when I was visiting with a couple I consider to be spiritual mentors. They have logged many spiritual miles through their years and I appreciate their words of encouragement and their deeply felt prayers for me. It was in that conversation that it dawned on me, these folks were just one example of the people in my life who manned the “drink stations” along the way. On that 5k run, at mile 1 and 2, people held out cups of water that we could grab as we ran by. They were glad to help us run our race well and stay strong. And so it is with the people of God who are put in our lives and who man our drink stations. Like those friends who spoke words of encouragement to me and were glad to help me run the race of life with Jesus and to help me stay strong.

As that thought came to me that night I realized that there had been many other drink stations along the way in my life. There were many who held out a cup of cold water as I ran by. Cups of cold water that looked like an invitation to lunch, a hug and a smile, a word of encouragement or appreciation, sometimes even a prayer before worship.

Then it dawned on me that Jesus had one time mentioned these people. He knew how important they are. It’s in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 10:

And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. (Matthew 10:42 NLT)

I was glad to remember that verse. I am glad to know God will reward those people, for they have done a great thing for me. Now, just like in that race, there are times the drink is life-enhancing but not life-saving. But, there are other times – life-on-the-edge times – when we really need a drink. So, I am grateful for those who make the offer, grateful for those who hold out a cup as I run by, grateful for the ones who offer a spiritual drink for at times I am weary and close to giving up. Those who man the drink stations have no way of knowing how badly it’s needed, but if it is, they are ready. And for that i give thanks to God.

I guess there are two questions to consider:

  1. Who are the people in your life who man the drink stations, and have you given thanks to God for them?
  2. Whose drink station is God asking you to tend to? Who is God asking you to bless with a word of encouragement, a hug, a prayer, a smile, or a lunch invitation?

Those are the questions I’m pondering today. Maybe you will as well.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

You can’t live in the sunrise

It’s nice to see the sunlight streaming in through the blinds on my office window. I don’t know where you are as you read this, but in my neck of the woods it has been rainy and cloudy. That’s not a bad thing, rain is very beneficial. However, it is nice to see the sun.sunrise

There is something inspirational about the sunrise, is there not? The darkness begins to mellow to a shadowy grayness, the clouds begin to take on a slight tinge of color, and the promise of a new day and new possibilities begins to emerge. I like that feeling. It encourages me to believe that I can begin again, I can begin to find beauty even when things have seemed dark or messy (especially important as I look at my office today!). A sunrise is good and beautiful and uplifting.

And yet, just when you begin to really enjoy the sunrise it’s suddenly gone. You turn around and the sun is up just slightly above the horizon and the light is full and bright. It’s nice to have the sunny day, but I begin to yearn for the beauty of the sunrise. But, alas, you can’t live in the sunrise you can only enjoy it while it’s there.

That’s how it is with new beginnings – they feel amazing in the moment. They are things of beauty and inspiration. And yet, you turn around and they’re gone.

I spent most of my day yesterday focused on new beginnings. We had our first worship service of the year, which was a blessing. I had several leadership training sessions to help our leaders find their bearings for the year ahead. And, I had my first session with our youth as the interim Youth Ministries Director. It was a really good day. After being at the church for 15 hours straight I went home feeling good and energized for the year ahead. I was encouraged and inspired by this day of new beginnings. And now, as I make my way into my office and get to work on the day’s agenda, the sunrise is gone.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am looking forward to the year ahead just as I am glad for the day we have before us. But there is a reality that we must acknowledge – the sunrise doesn’t last. We can’t live in the sunrise. We can’t live in the “feeling” of new beginnings. But, we can enjoy them while they last. We can acknowledge our gratitude for having been there in the moment.

What would a day be like if the sun “came on” like alight bulb being switched on rather than “coming up” with such beauty? We would still have the day, we just wouldn’t have the sunrise to begin that day. If we didn’t have moments of new beginnings we would still have the to-do list of our day, our week, and our year, we just wouldn’t have the moment of beauty and inspiration and encouragement.

Yep. It is true. We cannot live in the sunrise. But, we can enjoy it while it’s there. I think God did a good job in making this night-to-day transition happen the way it does. Well done, and thank you.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

I’m all a-Twitter

I still remember the moment it finally happened. I struggled with it, got frustrated, thought it might never be. I didn’t understand why others could experience it but I had not yet done so. If only I could live life the way others live life, I thought, then I would be happy. And then it did. I tried one more time and that time I got it.

You might think I’m talking about the day I learned to ride my bike or hit a golf ball with any amount of accuracy (now there’s a God-sized miracle that has yet to happen!). But, no, it’s neither of those. Today I was able to get Twitter to work on my Verizon phone. Yes, that’s right, I can now get no more than 140 characters of info at any moment which tell me what others are thinking or doing. I say “others” because some of the people I “follow” and who “follow” me I have never met! Author and speaker John Maxwell – we follow each other on Twitter. I get leadership advice from him and he gets my latest eating struggles from me. Seems to be an unbalanced relationship but he chose to follow me – so he gets what he gets.

To non-twitter techno-pagans this seems to be a strange world. But to those who know it is simply a cool way to stay in touch and be connected. It’s a weird but interesting way to do community. And for me that’s the essential piece. Yeah, there are some I “follow” (Twitter language) who are church leaders and gurus of different ilks. But most are friends and colleagues whose lives I’m thrilled to be a part of – and thrilled to be in the minutiae of those lives. These days it’s easy to miss out on the minor moments that provide a framework for the more significant moments – Twitter provides that in some ways.

Paul talks about being connected when he says:

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.  (1 Thessalonians 5:13 MSG)

Simple words and experiences shared among friends can help. That’s part of what these Face-Space_Twitter things do for me. They let me here from others and share their life a little bit – even my cousin in New York.

It may not be for you what it is for me, but are finding ways to stay connected and to be encouraged and to share your life? If so, then you are blessed. I know I am.

Holy high five to you. Mike