Never underestimate the power in a kind word

Slogging along through life gets really old really fast, especially if you’re stuck in a period of waiting for God to act. You know He’s going to do something, and whatever it is will be amazing and wonderful and life-changing. But until you get there, you’re just stuck. And it’s everything you can do to just keep functioning.

So what happens if someone comes along and notices? What happens when they demonstrate that they care about you or about how hard you’ve been working? how does that make you feel?

For me, it’s energizing. I can have my head down, buried in Word documents, cranking out word count like a fiend, but if someone comes along and mentions how much they enjoy what I’m writing, suddenly it doesn’t feel like work anymore. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like my feet are stuck in the mud. The mud just becomes an obstacle to overcome, and it feels like it’s worth it.

person-woman-hand-rainyToday’s verses are Acts 4:36-37.

For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.

How would you like to have nickname like that? This guy Joseph, who the apostles nicknamed Barnabus, was such a cool, uplifting guy that they called him The Encourager. Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of reputation? The kind of vibe that just cheered people up wherever you went?

The thing people don’t always understand about encouragers is that they aren’t always obliging. They don’t always tell you what you want to hear. Instead, they tell you what you need to hear, whether it’s fun or not. They are kind people, overall, and they care about you, but they care enough about you not to lie to you or coddle you. They love you enough to tell you the truth.

Sometimes that’s not easy to swallow, as the Apostle Paul eventually discovered in his relationship with Barnabus, but it’s what you need to hear to get you back on track with God. If your perspective is off, you need someone to smack you upside the back of the head to help you get straight again.

Who are the encouragers in your life? Yes, there’s a place for the cuddlers and the caretakers. There’s a time when you need someone to hug you and feed you cookies, but those times should be few and far between. More often than not, we need our encouragers to come along and challenge us to pick up our sword and get back into the fight.

They’ll do it kindly. They’ll speak truth in love to you. Even if it’s not what you want to hear, it’s probably what you need to hear.

So are you feeling down? Are you tired and weary? Yes, rest, if you need to, but if you don’t? Find an encourager. It may not be the happiest conversation you’ve ever had, but I guarantee it will change you–or at least it will change the way you look at your situation. And really, that’s what most of us need anyway.

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Shoveled versus unshoveled at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God saves people who rest in Him

Have you ever sacrificed rest for productivity? You needed to get something done and even though you really needed to recharge before you started it, you plowed ahead anyway? How did that turn out? Were you as productive as you could have been?

I do this more often than I’m comfortable admitting, and even though I usually do accomplish most everything on my to-do list, most of it wouldn’t quality as excellent. And in other situations, especially at work, when I need to revise something over and over again, I get really frustrated. Not at the project, not at the person asking for revisions, but at myself.

Performance-driven perfectionist, remember? If I don’t get something perfect on the first go-round, I can manage, if I can fix it immediately and exceed all expectations. But if it goes through a second round? Or a third round? Or a fourth round? My brain can barely handle it. And if I’m trying to do all of that when I haven’t rested properly, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll hit the irrational level where I convince myself that I’m not any good at what I’m doing.

But when you’re busy and stressed and overwhelmed with things that need to get done, how can you step back and rest? Won’t that make it impossible to accomplish anything?

 

Shoveled versus unshoveled at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Shoveled versus unshoveled at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Isaiah 30:15.

This is what the Sovereign Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
    and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.

This is the part of faith that I have the most trouble with–not believing but accepting. I always feel like I have to do something. I can’t just sit and wait for God to act. I need to be the one with the initiative. I need to be the one driving the project. I need to be the one making the decisions. But that’s not how God works all the time.

Sometimes He does. Sometimes He wants you to get off your blessed assurance and do something, but not always. And I’m working on paying more attention to those times.

I’ve had the privilege of growing up around so many wonderful Christians, the hardcore dedicated believers who love Christ with everything they are. As a child, I remembered marveling at what God could do through them, and I wanted to be one of those people. And like the crazy person I am, I always take everything one step further. I can’t just meet expectations, I have to exceed them or I’m not happy. I can’t just perform well, I have to perform perfectly or it’s not worth it.

As a result, I run myself ragged. I do everything. I’ve gotten better about it in the past year or so, not saying yes to everything that comes around and actually consulting with God about what I agree to do. And it’s helped. But I still hit those exhausted moments where I really need to rest. And I don’t.

I don’t know where we get the idea that God needs our help. I’m not sure where we got that. Why do we think that God can’t accomplish something unless we run ourselves into the ground? There’s some ridiculous part of me that thinks if I’m enjoying life I’m not working for God hard enough, and that’s a lie. No, this life isn’t permanent for us, and, no, this world isn’t our home. But God put us here, and there are parts of this world and this life that He gave us to enjoy. So why don’t we? Why do we stress ourselves out? Why do we deny ourselves rest?

Our salvation doesn’t come through anything we have done. We aren’t saved by anything we can do. And I’m not just talking spiritually. That’s true in our everyday lives at work and at home and at school. The only choice we need to make is to do follow the Bible, to do what Christ would have done, to live like He did. And God opens the doors for us. We don’t have to wear ourselves out worrying.

Granted, we need to willing to work. We need to be willing to get our hands dirty and go where God tells us and do what He says when He says it. But He already has a plan, and it’s a good plan. So why do we try to take over? The only thing our taking over will accomplish is to confuse things because we can’t see the big picture.

Trying to tackle a huge job when you’re already exhausted will lead to disaster and emotional meltdowns, and that’s not how our lives are supposed to be. God didn’t create us for that.

So, whatever you’re facing today, sit back. Relax. Trust God and rest. Really, truly rest. It’s hard. It’s harder than anything I’ve ever had to do. But God saves people who rest in Him. You’ll find strength in quiet confidence in Him. He’s got a plan, and it’s a good plan. So let Him work it out.