What I Read for Encouragement

pexels-photo-247195.jpegI’d like to encourage people today, although I don’t know exactly who or in what way. Does your head hurt? Did you sleep poorly last night? Have you gotten bad news lately? Are you feeling stale? Numb? Anxious? Maybe I want to encourage you.

Go read Psalm 103. You don’t have to be someone who has a religion – it’s literature, a book that’s been around a long time and is easily accessible. Just read it.

What if there is a God and that is an accurate picture of him? What if there is some “pit” he wants to pull you out of? What if he does want to satisfy the desires you have to be loved and valued? You could jump on that train of thought, just for a few minutes and see how it feels. I’ve memorized this chapter because I so often need to hear what it says.

I’m getting pretty aware of the things that are wrong with me.  When I hear a writer describing a distance “as far as the east is from the west”, and he’s telling me that’s how far away all my wrongness is going…  I get the impression that someone has a plan to deal with bad stuff, mine and everyone else’s. Thinking along those lines gives me hope. Hope is important.

Here is the most hopeful part of the reading for me – the part where “he knows how we are made, that we are dust, earthly”. I do kind of add my own translations as I think more and more about it. To me, it says “I know how I made you – different from anyone else. I know exactly what you are capable of and I don’t expect any more from you than that.”  That’s the way I want to be known. It encourages me to think that God and I might be on the same track in that regard.

The writer of this psalm felt that even when God knew him completely, he still loved him in a way described as “from everlasting to everlasting”. I’m a writer, and I can’t think of a way to top that. When I rehearse this psalm in my mind, I always think I want to be know that way and loved that way. It would make me happy, encouraged, hopeful. It’s a place to start.

Sure, there are some qualifiers in there, referring to those people who are known and loved. Again, as a writer, I’m paying attention to the verbs throughout the whole chapter. “Rescues”, “satisfies”, “works righteousness and justice”, “made known his ways” – all things that God does and is doing instead of things I have to do. I think the writer is saying that God is willing and able to work with people, to bring them to where they love him back, want to keep his covenant and remember to obey him.

It encourages me because it’s a good deal. It’s better than finding an honest used car salesman, or whatever analogy you want to use.  There’s more in that chapter and maybe there are other parts that will seem important to you, if you read it. Try it on.  See what it makes you feel and want. And consider that it is meant to encourage you.

 

 

 

 

 

Those Standout Moments

a happy wave of nostalgia
a happy wave of nostalgia

Don’t you know there are those times that become prominent, for one reason or another, and they stick in your mind like something that sparkles, or maybe like a flashing red light? My mind only has so much room in it and normally I want to save that space for stuff I’m really going to need, so one of the things I like to do is ask for God’s watchfulness over my mind each day.  I want him to be in charge of what looms large and what goes by the way. He knows me and he does a good job.

Three things that have been standout (is that a word?) moments recently:

This week there was a community garage sale in the neighborhood where one of my clients lives. My cousin and her husband shop these events and are masters at finding interesting things. They were at my client’s house when I arrived and started talking about what bargains they had scored.  Jerry had bought a large jar (water cooler size) full of marbles. Unbeknownst to most people, I have a inner fondness for marbles that I can’t explain, except that it reminds me of happy childhood times.  Kids today don’t know that you can get hours of fun and interaction with other people through marbles. They are antiques. When the snow would melt in the spring, our school grounds became pocked with marble holes and each recess was time to either lose or gain valuable marbles depending on your skill. Each long bus ride was a constant barter of boulders of various kinds, games of “odds or evens”. There was a whole language built around marbles, most of which I cannot remember now. I had a precious collection that I would hide around the house (because I had brothers). I don’t know what became of that bag of cat’s eyes and purees – did I outgrow my interest or did I lose them, forget where I’d hid them? Jerry took me out to his car and gave me some marbles and I felt like treasure had come home to me.  A standout moment.

Yesterday there was a knock on the door.  A young man I have known since he was an adolescent was standing there, wiping the sweat off his head because he had come on his bike and it was a warm day. The last few years I haven’t heard from him often – pretty much only when he needs money, which was why he had come this time too. He was moving north, taking a bus.  His mom had given him the money for the ticket which was all she could afford. She felt he needed to start new in a different place, but he had nothing for the trip. I listened to his story, we talked about his inability to thrive in spite of his talent, we talked about the faint odor of alcohol he exuded.  I don’t know where God is taking him – or just letting him go – but I felt kindness was required of me.  I gave him money. He let me pray for him and tearfully asked if I would continue to pray for him every day.  I made a promise.  This moment needs to standout so that I can keep that promise.

My inbox is constantly chiming at me because I’m permanently attached to my phone. Most of what comes in is junk mail, just like my old fashioned “snail mail” box.  But this morning there was a note from a family member.  Two sentences of sweet encouragement, which prove to me how much we can do to keep each other going forward.  Thank you MP, for acting on an impulse that was God inspired, no doubt. I love you too.

Three moments out of many that I could have included. Three is a good number and as I said, God does a good job of giving me things to think about and remember.