October 7, 2004
Encouragement for Today

Carrying our Friends to Jesus
Glynnis Whitwer - Senior Editor P31 Woman, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, editor@proverbs31.org

Key verse:

"Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus." Luke 5:18 (NIV)


Devotion:

There's a great scene in the movie Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King where the characters Sam and Frodo are approaching the end of their long journey to destroy a ring and restore peace to their embattled land.

The two little Hobbits are picking their way up a volcano-like mountain covered with smoke and burning rock. Frodo is the carrier of the ring, and with each step, the evil forces behind it drain his will and strength. When it looks as if Frodo can carry his burden no farther, his faithful companion Sam lifts him in his arms and says, "Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you." With that, solid little Sam picks up Frodo and carries him the rest of the way up the mountain.

As I watched that amazing scene, God showed me a picture of what His vision of Christian fellowship could be like: believers helping each other when faced with life's difficulties.  But the reality of life is that I can't always take on the burdens my friends are carrying, even though I would willingly do so. My sister lost her daughter in a car accident this summer. I can't take away that pain and grief. A friend's husband is without a job. In The Return of the King, Sam couldn't carry the ring.

Being a "fixer" by nature, I wish I could carry my loved ones' burdens or take on their sorrow and frustrations myself. At times, I'm emotionally stronger than my friends, physically healthier, and my faith is on more solid ground. But try as I might, there are times when I just can't help enough.

There's a story in Luke chapter 5 about four men who couldn't carry a friend's burden, but they knew who could. These four men must have heard about the great miracles of Jesus and believed Jesus could help their friend.  With great faith and determination, they carried their friend to a house where Jesus was teaching. When they couldn't get through the door because of the crowds, they carried their friend up to the roof and lowered his mat through the tiles and into the center of the crowd, where Jesus did heal him.

When our loved ones are weak and burdened, they might need us to carry them to Jesus, too.  We can do this by praying with them and for them. Something amazing happens when we lay our hands on a friend and together we approach God in prayer. We can also invite people to church if they don't already attend one, give them a Bible, a helpful book, and type some Scriptures that apply to their situation or buy them an audio tape of a great teaching.

When people close to us are suffering, there are things we can do. But they are never enough because our friends need Jesus. The best thing we can do is carry our friends to Jesus when they just can't get there themselves.


My prayer for today:

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your almighty power and great love. I confess the times I have neglected to share Your hope and love with those in need. I pray for wisdom to know how to bring my friends to You. Thank you for answering our prayers and for Your faithfulness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Application steps:

Identify one or two friends or loved ones who are going through a rough time. List some practical ways you can direct them to God for help. Schedule a time to do these things.


Reflection points:

What are some common trials that can leave us tired and emotionally spent?

How do you feel when someone prays for you?

What keeps you from reaching out more to hurting friends?

How can you overcome those concerns?

How has God carried your burdens when you feel as if you can't go on?


Power verses:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1 (NIV) 

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15: 5-6 (NIV) 

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. Psalm 133:1 (NIV)

Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NIV)


Additional resources:

P31 Woman Magazine
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/magazine/index.html

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/key.html

Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life - Finding God's Refreshing Priorities for You by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/secretbalanced.html