October 28, 2010
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up."
Friend To Friend
What a crazy day it had been! It was a day probably like many of yours. I was a young mom with two small children. My husband was the youth pastor at a large church in town. I taught a weekly Bible study for senior high girls and directed a youth choir that practiced one night a week and sang for the early worship service every Sunday. We hosted a youth bible study in our home every Monday night … and, well, you get the idea. My schedule was almost to the point of ridiculous and I was exhausted most of the time. But this particular day had been crazier than most. Both kids had a cold and were grumpy because they didn't feel well. The house was a mess, the laundry was piled high and I had a meeting at church that night. I was counting the minutes until my husband came walking through the front door. I needed rescuing.
The phone rang. "Honey, I won't be able to make it home before church visitation tonight," Dan said. He sounded so tired that I could not muster up one ounce of anger. Instead, I shifted into overdrive - snatching both kids off of the backyard swing and away from neighborhood friends - plopping them in the bathtub for a quick rinse, impatiently shoving little arms and legs into clean clothes and spooning food into little mouths before firmly depositing both kids in their car seats. Off we went to church for the third night in a row.
At a stop sign, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw two miserably silent children, tears streaming down their sad little faces. I heard His voice, "Mary, what are you doing and who are you doing it for?" My heart broke. I suddenly realized that I was running the race of life for the wrong audience. Turning the car around, I headed home.
"Hey guys! Would you like to go home, put on your pajamas, make some cookies and watch a movie with me?" Cheers and clapping erupted from the back seat as tears gave way to smiling faces and laughter and giggles filled the car and my heart. It has been over twenty years and I still remember that precious night of ministry.
Women are so busy. As believers, we delight in finding creative ways to touch hearts and are often passionate about introducing those hearts to God's love, forgiveness and transforming power - and rightly so. However, I wonder how many of us miss the hungry hearts that greet us each morning across the breakfast table or wait for us to come home each night. Do we overlook a child's silent longing for the kind of love that is spelled "t-i-m-e?" Do we miss the opportunity to encourage a weary husband who has, once again, returned home without a job? When was the last time you gave your parents a hug and thanked them for everything they have done for you over the years? Do your grandparents know how valuable their legacy of love and wisdom is to you? We make the erroneous assumption that the people in our life know how we feel about them. Do they? And even if they do know, wouldn't it be great to tell them again?
It is so easy to lose focus and scramble priorities. We get so busy doing good things and miss one of the highest things God created us to do - family. Our public life is only as valid as our private life. Family is the perfect framing for God's highest work, the litmus test for authentic service and our greatest opportunity to meet needs in His name.
Being involved in a church is a good and right thing. Providing creative outlets such as sports or music for our children is a wonderful gift. We just need to make sure we are not substituting activities for the time we should be spending together as a family.
When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, one of her favorite activities was to color a page in what she called her "special" coloring book. The book had several "special" pages, one in particular being a dull, gray picture of a butterfly. Frankly, I couldn't understand her excitement. When I asked why she liked that picture so much, Danna grinned and said, "Watch, Mommy!" She rubbed her little hands together to create warmth; then laid them on the butterfly drawing. The touch of her hand caused the special inks in the printing to react and the dull gray was transformed into a vivid rainbow of color.
Everyone is hungry for the warm touch of someone who cares - a word of kindness, an act of compassion, a hug of encouragement. I believe God created the family to be the first place where that hunger is best satisfied. Yet, I am amazed that we can stand in silence, watching homes, marriages and families disintegrate before our very eyes. Silence is agreement. It is time for us, as women of God, to boldly stand against anyone and anything that undermines our marriage or threatens the solidarity of our family.
Father, thank You for the family You have given me. Please grant me the wisdom to know how I can best serve and minister to them in Your name. Help me to set priorities that reflect You and Your plan, and give me the strength and discipline to live by those priorities. Show me how to love and disciple each member of my family and lead them to become Your fully devoted followers.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Family is God's idea. In fact, He created the family before He established the church. I believe God is calling us to pour encouragement into those people we call family. Read the following verses. Beside each verse, write the name of a family member who needs the truth contained in that particular verse. Now make a plan to do something about it!
Isaiah 35:3 "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way."
Galatians 6:2 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Psalm 10:17 "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry."
Ecclesiastes 3:12 "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Hebrews 3:12 "Encourage one another daily."
More From The Girlfriends
The approaching holidays may be a difficult time for you or for someone in your family that struggles with depression. I encourage you to read my book, Hope in the Midst of Depression. I have been in that dark pit and know what it is like to long for just a sliver of light. The good news is that there really is hope and a way out of that pit.
Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, When an Ordinary Woman Meets an Extraordinary God. If you enroll now, you will also have access to all of the 2010 studies. But hurry! This offer ends soon! Check it out!
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