Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘encouragement’

End of Your Rope?


Rope_knot : rope fastened in knots

Do you need encouragement? Read John 5:1-18. It’s about a man who seemed to be “at the end of his rope.” He had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. For “a very long time,” he had been lying by a pool near Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. The pool was surrounded by “a great number of disabled people,” waiting for the water to be stirred. Scripture teaches that healing would come only to the first person who entered the pool after the water was stirred. When Jesus saw the man, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

For most of us, that question comes across as rather strange. “Well, duh! Why else would I be lying here?” would have been a rather disrespectful answer, don’t you think? A simple, “Yes,” would have sufficed. But the man replied, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Some people might read that as whining. They might interpret the man as one who lacked creativity or tenacity or sufficient faith or courage. I have even heard pastors and Biblical teachers speculate that he might have made his paralysis a way of life, and was content to just be there, maybe begging for a living or thriving on the sympathy of others. But, I think this man was at the end of his rope, and Jesus saw his tenacity, appreciated his struggle, and His heart went out to the man. He did not chastise him for complaining that he had no help. He simply said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The story tells me, when I am at the end of my rope, it’s OK to complain to Jesus. It’s OK to cry to Him when there is no one to help you.

Imagine your rope is stiff jute, hanging only halfway down from the ceiling. You’ve tied a secure knot and you’re hanging on, but you’re tired of the struggle. Your grip are getting weak. By faith, you DO want to be made well. You rely on Jesus. He changes the rope to a bungee cord and it stretches to the floor where you can get your feet on the ground again. Pick up your mat (or your rope) and walk.

That was today’s message for me. Hang on until by God’s grace, you CAN walk again – or you can compensate – you can rely on other attributes that multiply in you – and make life do-able again. Then – healed by faith, count your blessings, and go out to tell your story! Radiate God’s Hope so that others can keep on keepin’ on when they come to the end of their ropes.

Here are today’s sermon notes (message from Rev. Jean Johnson, adapted – interpreted – and rendered in poetic form through my filters):

How to Get Well

Are you at the end of your rope?
Do you really want to be healed?
What are you doing to create a knot
And hang on where the knot is sealed?

What Super Glue sealed the knot tight?
Your fingers grasp at the end of straws
Looking for what solutions dangle there –
Within reach of your grasping claws.

Are you responsible for catching the clues?
Is healing a matter of finding and grasping?
If we whine and passively hang without doing,
Is this the key to healing that’s lasting?

No, firmly clasping that knot you’ve made
Requires faith and strength and tenacity.
Ultimately, healing comes from God’s grace.
Our gratitude gives that rope elasticity!

That’s the Good News! Bounce on down!
Untie the knot and let go of the rope.
By God’s grace – His goodness alone –
Walk, healed by Faith, to radiate God’s Hope!

Do you need encouragement? Read John 5:1-18. Hang in there!

Learning to Live in Contentment


It’s a New Day

Are you facing trouble? Aren’t we all? We live in a troubled world! Whether the pain is physical or emotional,  it is real. Pain is a part of life, just as loss is an inevitable part of life. How can we live with trouble and still live in contentment? Each morning we wake up to a sunrise. It’s a new day! The sun may be hidden behind clouds of gray, but it is there – and the clouds will eventually move on so that we can enjoy the sunshine. Meantime, what do we do?

Image

You may have read my recent blog, “Stuck on Stupid.” The picture above is the red barn where our friends walked to try and find help. As they walked the two or more miles down the dirt road to look for help, a storm brewed. The thunder rolled, the lightening flashed, and no one was home at the red barn ranch except a terribly frightened dog. My husband had driven up a one-lane dirt road and got his pick-up stuck in the mud while backing up to make room for an approaching gravel truck to pass. The good news is that we eventually got out with the help of a tow-truck and rescued our friends before they got drenched. The bad news is, we should not have been going up that road to begin with. There was a sign that said, “Road Crew at Work.” That should have been our first clue!

Sometimes our troubles come because we failed to notice or heed the warning signs along the way, and we drove right into the pain – caused by our own … (no, it’s not always stupidity – but sometimes – well, I won’t go there!).

Other times, our pain has nothing to do with our own making. I spoke today to a friend, John, who is recovering from a horrible virus that attacked his muscles. John was a talented handyman. He is having to learn to use his muscles all over again.  “I can’t even drive a nail,” he complained. How can I encourage John to live in contentment?

Another friend is in the process of helping her elderly Aunt Edith move from her home of 30+ years into a retirement apartment across the state to be closer to family. Aunt Edith was a world traveler who had a home filled with precious souvenirs from her many adventures. With no children of her own, this dear widow has no one to whom she feels she can pass along those treasures, so she has sold most of them – and is moving away from 30 years of friends and memories. The sense of loss is enormous. How can I encourage Aunt Edith to live in contentment?

One of the inspirational writers from Guideposts magazine, Sharon Hinch, approached this subject in a book of daily encouragements for your soul, Mornings with Jesus, 2012.  She wrote, “During times of significant losses, as I’ve laid down things that were precious to me, I’ve found comfort in remembering that Jesus understands loss. He set aside the glories of heaven to come to earth… ”

Hinch used one of my favorite scriptures to make her point, Philippians 4:12-13  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content. In any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

In her Guideposts devotional, Hinch went on to explain, “Contentment sounds like such a deceptively mellow, easygoing word. But some days it takes fierce, stubborn courage to walk in it. For any of us facing painful loss… I pray for God to breathe the courage of gratitude into our hearts and keep nudging our focus back to Him.”

The key to encouraging John and Aunt Edith to live in contentment with their losses is to encourage them to live with gratitude for what they have. Live with hope for the promise of the sun behind the clouds to peek through, and with a focus on the One who understands our pain of loss – and who holds the promise for our futures in the palm of His gracious hand. It is a new day. Praise God!

Now – as far as the key to helping the ones who drive into harm’s way – on their own accord…

Heaven help us all!

Amen?

I Know Something Good About You


Wouldn’t this old world be better
If the folks we meet would say,
“I know something good about you,”
And then treat us just that way?

Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy
If each handclasp warm and true
Carried with it this assurance,
“I know something good about you”?

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If the good that’s in us all
Were the only thing about us
That folks bothered to recall?

Wouldn’t life be so much better
If we praised the good we see?
For there’s such a lot of goodness
In the worst of you and me.

Wouldn’t it be wise to practice
That fine way of thinking, too?
You know something good about me.
I know something good about you!

Louis C. Shimon

COMMENTER / COMMENTATOR AWARD

GinaV at Professions for PEACE practices that way of thinking. She not only thinks, “I know something good about you,” but she takes the time to express it. When she sees others doing the same, she praises it with her affirmations and her nominations. Thank you, Gina, for nominating my blog for the Commenter Award. I am grateful to her for introducing me to so many thoughtful and inspiring bloggers. She does this by reposting blogs that touch her heart, and by acknowledging others through the blogging awards nominations. It is a beautiful blogosphere out there, a big and beautiful world of writers with ideas to share. I thank you all for sharing your time and thoughts. Like Gina, I love to offer comments and insights, both on my own blog as well as in replies or comments on others. In accepting this award, I will continue the “love circle” by passing on the links to some lovely people who also warmly encourage others. My nominees will be posted as an addendum to this soon. Meantime, you are here – reading this – and you may recognize that poem as one of those from my mom’s 1936 collection. More treasures to come!

I want to know something good about YOU, my blogging friend. Write a comment! And – have a beautiful day. God Bless You!

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