February 28, 2019
I had been visiting my sister whose husband worked in North Battleford. As I settled in my seat on that gloomy November day, a young man sat down next to me. Though I would have rather listened to my radio, we made small talk as the bus headed west.
"If you were to die tonight, where would you go?" he asked. Being a Christian myself, I recognized his question and what he had in mind in asking it.
He smiled when I told him that I was a believer. Throughout the rest of that five-hour trip, we spoke of how we came to Christ and where we attended church. We became so wrapped up in our conversation that the hours flew by.
As the bus entered the outskirts of Edmonton, my new friend said, "I feel so much better now that we talked. I was in a car accident so I had to take the Greyhound back home. Talking with you really cheered me up."
I felt astonished that I helped this dear brother in Christ. People throughout my life gave me the distinct impression that I wasn't much good at doing anything. I'm sure the Lord led me and this man to sit beside each other for the very purpose of building us up spiritually.
February 26, 2019
Did you notice this post is late?
Today is my assigned day to write for the Inscribe Writers Online blog, but I have successfully procrastinated as I am struggling with the theme.
"How are you spurring others in your faith and writing? How are others spurring you towards love and God-honouring writing?"
The other posts this month have many wonderful messages on how writers give and receive encouragement in their faith and writing. But I have to say, if I don't write, am I being spurred on? Am I spurring on others to live their faith out loud? Am I spurring on others to continue their writing no matter where they are in the journey?
I am not saying I have no support or encouragement to write or walk with God, or that I don’t inadvertently reassure or cheer someone else. My husband hands me pen and paper whenever he can tell I am in angst. Family and friends speak words of wisdom that encourage my faith, and words of appreciation for the messages of my writing. You, dear readers, often comment on my words as well as their form. I have come to believe I make a difference in the lives of others, and others certainly make a difference in my life.
Yet do I write? Do I write more? No.
I try. 🤨 Yes, I see that raised eyebrow showing your skepticism, but I really am fighting in the battle. Somehow, other activities replace writing time. Physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion refuse to let the words in my head seep through to the keyboard.
Through the last few years of rebellion and hurt, healing and refreshment, I have neglected to enforce the habit of writing. I know it is what I need to do to sort the chaos that spins in my brain, to find the Truth of how to process and live life. But that is not what spurs me to write.
Knowing others look forward to my writing is encouraging. But whether my writing touches others is a side effect, a by-product of sorts. That is not what spurs me to write.
Of course, I like to see my name in print. (Have you read the latest FellowScript?) and I like to have hits, likes, comments, and followers online. But not even that is what spurs me to write.
When I think of "spur" I know the word is meant as “encouraging.” Yet the first thing I see is not a hug but the metal jangling on a cowboy's boot, meant to encourage his mount forward. There are other meanings, but I picture the Western spur.
Most times, that spur is a gentle nudge, an urging for the horse to do the rider's bidding. Some horses can be encouraged forward by a gentle tap of the boot or pull on the reigns. These soft hints seem to not register with me.
Sometimes a horse does need to be spurred on by more than a gentle nudge. Encouragement from others is what is needed to move us forward in faith or writing. These spurs of praise, encouragement, or opportunity are clearer, but still seem not to work with me.
Occasionally, riders use sharper, more pointed spikes on their spurs. These spurs are not meant to harm, (though often the movies will have a black hat character be the one to use them for cruelty) but more often to get the attention of a particularly stubborn or unruly horse.
God, too, often employs the sharper spurs that poke deeper. These spurs are not meant to harm, but to direct and teach. When I ignore the other kinds of prompting God employs His Word, that sharp two-edged sword, to poke me in the gut.
Today I knew I had missed my deadline and was okay with that as I was still sniffling and coughing with the remains of my grandchildren's visit. Then God once again spurred me on.
One of the many devotionals I do (some daily, others when I can, others only when I see them in front of me) has italicized the words of Isaiah 41:13.
"For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'"
This was the verse God spoke to me moments before I was first diagnosed with cancer. I was reminded of all God had done in my life and I knew with certainty that He would hold my right hand throughout what was to come. God has fought for me, comforted me, given me a physical and eternal family, provided healing kisses to my unseen pains... throughout my life.
I felt conviction from the Holy Spirit (not the condemnation of the evil one.) How can I worship God, who holds my right hand? God loved me before I knew Him and loves me even as I still discover who He is. Recognizing that Truth is when I am spurred to write, filled with a desire to write.
Whether journaling, praying, lamenting, praising or imagining, the deep need God has placed in me to write is awakened and I pick up the pen. I get excited. The words begin to flow. I am moved forward in the direction my Master wants me to go, at the speed He wants me to grow, in the company of those He wants me to know.
I am spurred to write by God who uses His Word to poke me in the gut and move me forward in His path. Even if I struggle with disobedience at first and am late meeting the deadline.
*photos courtesy of Pixabay, CCO license
Marnie writes from the British Columbian north, which is actually the center of the Province. At this time our land is white, which is kind of like the center of an Oreo cookie where all the deliciousness is. Being raised by God from a valley time of dry bones, she is being spurred to share her writing here and, in her blog, Phosphorescent.
February 24, 2019
Fifteen years ago or more, I began sending thank you cards as encouragements. I wasn’t thanking people for something they did for me or bought for me – that’s just common courtesy; polite manners which most of us practice - but rather what I knew about them or saw them doing. I purchased blank cards, wrote a thank you, and mailed them. Recipients were often volunteers. For example; I knew the amount of time and work the church music director put into the music ministry and to encourage her I thanked her for her dedication and the wonderful songs she selected. Another card was sent to a church board member who had stepped down after some time of serving. Now I can’t remember what I wrote but I did keep the note he gave me; “You will never know how much that did for me. Thank you.” Like a boomerang, my encouragement to him came back to encourage me! Wow! God knows what makes us happy that’s why He gave us the Golden Rule. When we encourage others, we are encouraged as well. Amazing how that works!
About ten years ago, I got back to working on my art; drawing flowers on greeting cards in pen and ink, and some in coloured pencil. I’ve sold a few and some I’ve mailed to people with an encouraging message written inside. And again, I experienced the boomerang effect.
I Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage each other and edify (build up) one another.” Many do not practice building others up, instead they practice tearing down others. We see and hear much of the negative actions of society. Companies use commercials to put down other company’s products or services instead of simply stating the quality of a product or benefits of a service being advertised. Politicians criticize and point accusing fingers at each other instead of simply stating the good they will do or the benefits of their proposals.
Sadly, it is easy to get drawn into a damaging way of speaking. The only thing that type of speech builds up is strife. Both the receiver and the sender are hurt. The boomerang effect is felt with uplifting words and words that tear down.
Sometimes we just miss an opportunity to give someone a word of cheer or a little support because we are engrossed in our work or life; charging towards our goals. I know I’ve missed occasions when I should have said something.
Encouraging others is an important action, one which benefits the receiver as well as the giver. That little organ, the tongue, certainly is powerful. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I’ll try to practice life and healing with that organ as Proverbs 15:4 says, “A wholesome (healing) tongue is a tree of life…”. Others will be up-lifted and so will I. That’s the boomerang effect. Feels great!
Labels: Shirley S. Tye