I have been sitting on my back porch listening to the ‘peepers’ in my pond for the last 30 minutes. As I sit here I am looking out on all the mess in my back yard… all the leftover ‘stuff’ from last fall when I was supposed to clean everything up and get ready for winter. [I thought I HAD cleaned things up, but here we are in the spring and the ‘stuff’ is all back.] It’s hard for me to remember when this back yard was beautiful last spring, right now; all I can see is the leftover signs of a time gone by. I came out to work on the yard and all I am doing is sitting in the red chair on the porch. The yard is overwhelming and the job feels unending and discouraging.
Today my friend Jane came to visit me from Pittsburgh. I was hesitant to let her see my yard (she is a fabulous gardener) but I did invite her in anyway. She was my Barnabas. Jane saw beauty where I was seeing weeds. She was The ENCOURAGER. She had great ideas that gave beauty, color and design to a yard, that moments before, was an overgrown brown mess. She offered to dig in the ground WITH me. She had eyes to see the potential (the blessing) of the space.
After Jane was here, I noticed that actually things ARE growing in the secret garden of my back yard. Shasta Daisies are coming up, along with the hostas, bleeding hearts, the Day Lilies and the Iris. The lemon thyme and lavender are all there pushing up from the winter. I knew these plants were there but I could not see them because of the weeds. I was discouraged and could not see the potential…. But my friend Jane had eyes to see plants and growth, not weeds and disorganization. I was encouraged and now I am ready to start working again.
Encouragement does not mean fixing – it means encouraging. It means helping a person understand that they have more power or ability than they knew about themselves. It may mean pushing someone or yourself to do things that you never thought you could do. Encouragement is about helping someone learn the skills to succeed – working with the person – cheering the person on.
May is a month of change. May is a month that new growth happens – things are renewed. Let’s encourage each other so that each of us will be able to see the growth and the renewed life around us. We need each other and we need the encouragers who help us to see.
God’s HOLY SPIRIT of encouragement is ‘in’, ‘through’, and ‘around’ us always. FPC is an encouraging place to be. Let’s work to be intentional about our encouragement to those around us. May we look for growth and renewal, rebirth and redemption as we move through this month of May. And may each of you feel God’s encouragement in your life as you notice the gifts of God surrounding you each day.