Warm Wednesday Words: Margin for the Other Side Journey

BeFunky_IMG_20150315_081054430.jpgThe pendulum has swung wide for me recently on life events, and there have been moments in the stormy times, I’ve lost sight of the other side.  Because stresses and griefs tug at the heart even through the elation of miracles, I’ve had a time of it.  Yet the recent warmth of personal kindnesses and encounters threatens to thaw the icy numbness that settles and resettles in my arms.

I will highlight a few, but not all, of the weekend warmths God sent my way.  On Saturday, a friend and marathon runner committed one of her many miles she runs to praying for our family.  She says she likes to pick a friend and devote a mile to them in prayer.  I’m humbled, honored. and grateful.

Sunday I received a “random” message from an out of state friend who I have not been in touch with for months.   Among many other encouraging words, she said, ‘I am praying that the Lord carry you through the storms and calm the waves. May you always remember that the Lord is in the boat with you and that because He is, you will make it to the other side. When the Lord went into the boat with the disciples, he said to them “let us go to the other side“.  There was no doubt that they would make it to the other side.even in the storm…even though they were afraid when the storm came…because Jesus was with them and He knew they would make it, it was not yet His time. It is hard to Trust in the storms that shake us, but Jesus says “Do not be afraid, Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth….” ‘ 

Again on Sunday (after church and a deeply satisfying nap) I did some catching up in the “Breathe” Bible study (by Priscilla Shirer) that I am in, on making room for the Sabbath, boundaries, etc.  After discussing boundaries and margin, Shirer quotes Brad Lomenick, respected innovator and leader of the Catalyst Movement in America as saying several things about the powerful concept of ‘margin’ in several areas of life, including this quote, “Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact.”

If there’s anything new I’ve concluded about friendships over the past year or so, it’s that in my own strength, I might be able to encourage and pass along the love of Christ to someone on occasion, but any consistency is lost on me without some margin in my  life for such efforts.  To have margin requires that I set boundaries.  To set wise boundaries necessitates time in prayer to be sensitive to what parameters I need in order to keep the proper things in their place, and to be guided to friendship as the Lord would lead.

Hebrews 4 says “for the person who has entered  his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.  Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.”  Entering into a “rest”, or a cessation of normal activity, and especially to focus on God, counters the physical world and is the beginning of true freedom and blessing.

Oswald Chambers says, “are these things crushing us? Are they badgering us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? Then let us call a halt, and get into such living relationship with God that our relationship to others may be maintained on the line of intercession whereby God works His marvels.”

Today, I was blessed with a friend who I haven’t seen for weeks coming by my place of work just for a quick hug.  And then blessed again with a good ole chat with my mom, who I will never stop needing.  I’m touched in those moments and more recently by many around me who get off the merry go round of their normal activities and in effect, say, ‘Let’s go to the other side.  I’m with you.  And, oh, yes, there IS another side and we’re headed there together!’   I’m so thankful to God because He sends those who would speak His Words, and actively care the way He does.  That is what points to Him and reminds me what I momentarily forgot about the other side.

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Warm Wednesday Words: More and More

taught by God to loveRecently I was given encouraging words from several different people abounding more and more in love  on the very weekend I struggled with fresh grief.  Most of the encounters were not “planned”, but I have no doubt they were prearranged by my loving Heavenly Father.

you lift my head

The first encouragement came from a friend and mentor who shot a random friendly text to me.   She knows the mutual blessing in choosing a few uplifting words.

words as apples of goldThe second “abounder” was an acquaintance I happened to see who went straight from a casual greeting to an unexpected and genuine compliment on something I had done and how it had blessed her.  The words were as a surprise shower of  light beams diffusing healing balm onto my bruised heart.  Then there were a couple elderly sisters in Christ from my church who just did what most elderly “sisters” in the church have learned more and more to do so well; i.e., one chatted with much humble empathy, specific encouragement, and a hug, and one lavished praise about me to my husband, just as she often does to me about him.   The final dose of medicine God administered to me was from laughter and good times with family during a planned birthday celebration for Tony.   Every one of our children connected with us one way or another (and that alone is a blessing) but being able to spend time together eating, talking, supporting and laughing certainly adds to the blessing.

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
children, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons born in one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. (Ps. 127:3-5)

In “The Children of the Day” bible study on Thessalonians, it is clear that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy had a handle on encouraging since they acknowledged twice in chapter four of the first book that the Thessalonians were pleasing God and also loving each other well, and to do so even more.   Beth Moore points out that we are commissioned to abound more and more in living for Christ, and that, indeed we will increase in something, be it living the Christian way, or otherwise, which soon enough becomes the opposite.  She says,  “More and more one direction will force its antithesis into less and less….Human emotions have an inherent propensity to grow.  We can hate more and more or we can love more and more….(And about love)…You and I have no power to affect divine love.  It is perfect.  All we are left to do is ask to know it more and more.  And right there in the increase, a miracle of decrease is forced into play:  as we are more and more aware of His love, we fear less and less.”
perfect love casts out fear

I want to abound in love more and more so that I am bothered less and less by those who are unable and/or unwilling to love as the Lord does, and be able to abound in forgiveness, grace and love toward the unloving.  After all, we’ve all been there in that horribly blind spot in which our own vision sees ourselves less needy then we really are and God less magnificent then He really is.  Paul and his co-writers said this in 1 Thess. 4:9, “About brotherly love:  you are taught by God to love one another.”  God will always raise up some who will seek to abound in love more and more because they are as one taught to love by God, Himself.  That kind of love is portrayed on the cross and it doesn’t play favorites because it is God’s love in us, not something we contrive!  Of the three gifts that remain, love is the greatest.

29df00ac3a23e0edc1268ddd97267b20So what is my response to being overwhelmed with encouragement, even as I occasionally struggle with grievous things?   Though I try to show kindness and encouragement, anyway, it is to do so even more!  1 Thes. 4:10b, “But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more.”

grace abounds in deepest waters

In this season of your life and in this very moment you are abounding in something…even more.  Is it what you’d like to abound in?  If so, how can you practice it “more and more“?