Page 150 has been a long, but good day as we traveled to attend church with an aunt and uncle from MJ’s side of the family and then had a cookout with their family members who were able to come for the afternoon. This is an aunt and uncle who always gave us a place to stay when we would vacation to Florida at a time in our lives when paying for hotel lodging would have made the trip impossible. Twelve of us gathered and had a great time telling stories and laughing together. Today’s page is a lot about family, but it is also about acting when an inner voice or nudge tells you to do something good. The photo with today’s page was taken at the house today of a piece of art hanging on the wall. Not just any art, but a mounted print of photos I’ve taken that I had done and sent sight unseen. Today was the first I I was able to see the finished product and it was already up and hanging on the wall. While it was fun to hear my aunt’s excitement about this work, it was also a reminder of how God desires to use each of us to encourage one another.
This photo collage didn’t have to be — in fact, it almost wasn’t. A few weeks ago, my wife’s cousin, this aunt’s daughter, died following a lengthy battle with cancer. As I sat at home a thousand miles away, a thought crossed my mind that I should put together a collection of lighthouse photos and send to my aunt and uncle as a “thinking of you” gift. While my heart kept telling me to do it, my mind kept coming up with reasons not to. I went back and forth for several days, designing it online several times yet never sending the project to the photo printer to finish it. Finally one day as I had put together this assortment of photos and was praying for the family, I hit the “checkout now” button on the website and the project was soon in process and would be sent from the photo printing company directly to my aunt and uncle. Even after the order was submitted, the second-guessing continued. Would the finished project look anything like it did on the website? Would they like it? Would they have somewhere to hang it? Would they even want to hang it? Yet, even as those questions continued, I knew that I had done what I could and what I felt called to do to offer encouragement.
God calls us to encourage one another yet many times we neglect that simply because we lack confidence in having anything useful to anyone else. Sometimes we’ve become so accustomed to ignoring the nudges from God and the work of His Spirit in our lives that we fail to use what He’s given us to encourage others. I believe that most, if not all, of what God gives us has a primary purpose of meeting some kind of need present in the life of someone else. Yet far too often, our first thought when we consider God’s gifting in our life is about how it is useful to us. Yes, God’s gifts generally do have a usefulness to us but they have a greater usefulness when we share them with others.
I pray that you and I would listen faithfully to the nudging of God’s Word and His Spirit as we pray for the people around us. I pray that we would examine everything we do, and particularly everything we are good at, and how God would desire to use those things to encourage others for His glory. I pray that we would deliberately focus on others and how we can serve them rather than focusing on ourselves and who will serve us. I pray that we would value family and the preciousness of life. I pray that we would make the most of every opportunity we have to encourage others, but especially to encourage those that God has given to us as family.