Thursday, June 5, 2008

Encouragement...








Last weekend I was asked to speak at a Women's Retreat at a local church on the topic of encouragement. I must say I am not satisfied with words I spoke that day. I shared the story of Isaac and Asher as I felt it was important to give a little background before explaining ways I had been encouraged and needless to say by the time I was done sharing their story I looked at the clock and had very little time to speak to the volumes of encouragement we have received over the past several months.


I spoke briefly of the story in the book of Luke (chapter 5) of the paralytic

17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."




It is funny because this story came to me a year or so ago while teaching in the Powerzone (our children's ministry at McLane Church). I was teaching this story to the kids and I began to cry. I wasn't sure why exactly. It is not a sad story in fact it is a remarkable story! So I continued teaching and when I got home I read it out of my Bible again. I had been reading it from The Beginners Bible, but the story was basically the same, but that is when it hit me. This story summed up so much of what we had been through. Now this was before Asher, but it described quite well our situation with Isaac.

As I re-read the story a few things stood out to me.

1. These men carried the man on the mat to Jesus KNOWING God was the only answer for him.


2. When they got to the door and it seemed like there was no way, they MADE a way. They carried him to the roof and lowered him down to Jesus.


3. The story speaks of the faith of the men who carried the paralytic. Not the paralytic himself. It says that Jesus saw the faith of the men and so He forgave the paralytic.


4. When that paralyzed man was at the end of his rope and just did not have the strength to go on, those men did it for him. They carried him to Jesus.


That is what God wants from all of us! He wants us to be stretcher bearers for each other and that is just what I have experienced. Many days I am nearly consumed by my grief but it is on those days that God brings just the right people into my life to encourage me and to pick up their end of my mat and carry me to the roof.


This encouragement comes in many ways. For us it has come in the form of an honest "how are you doing?" (not the kind you say as you are walking past a person, not wanting a REAL answer), it has come in the form of a sweet rosebush, a wooden block, a scrapbook, a gift card for dinner, groceries, meals, a tree, a Willow Tree figurine, a picture frame, a necklace, a phone call, a note, a look, a card, a check, a hug, a prayer. It doesn't have to be huge, just knowing someone is remembering and acknowledging my pain does wonders for my heart.


The photos I share are some of these things I have received that mean so much, many of them from friends I have not yet met. My hope is that after reading this you will pray about how God wants YOU to encourage someone else on the journey they are on. We all have suffering. What can you do to lighten someone elses' load? Who's stretcher is God calling you to carry?
Thank you to all who have encouraged us with your words, prayers, gifts and hugs. It is great to know we are so loved and that our boys are making such a difference. I have received many emails from people who have been touched by our sons, but many of them begin with, I hope you are not offended or I know I am a stranger but I promise I am not a stalker. I want to say to all of you that I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends. I do not consider you strangers. I have allowed you into some of the most personal parts of my soul and feel so honored that you have chosen to walk this path alongside me. You are friends, not strangers, not stalkers and I welcome your uplifting words and encouragement. THANK YOU! God IS using you to minister to me in ways you could not ever imagine. I covet each of your prayers!
Also, I am going to post our address because lately I have had a lot of requests for it. We treasure and keep each and every card we have received and if you feel you would like to send us a note via mail instead of email we would be happy to have it! All forms of encouragement are equally important! We love you all and are so blessed to have so many friends!
5182 Nash Road
West Springfield, PA 16443

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
From the book of Philippians

7 comments:

Suzie said...

ok, so the thing I got you that I was going to give to you at the next meeting, it seems you already have one. (the willow tree two babies) Humf.... Oh well, Don't know if you would still like them, or not, let me know. funny how things work.

Devin said...

It is a priviledge to call you 'friend', and to pray for you each day.

Thinking of you,
Devin in Illinois

Denise said...

Thank you. I have been reading you blog for months now wondering what I could do except pray for this loving and hurting family that I did not even know. This morning I found out a family friend lost their son. Thank you for encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone and do something. Your story IS making a difference. Still praying for you and your family.

M said...

Wow. I was considering asking you for your address, but wondered if it would make you uncomfortable. I guess I now have my answer! :) Thank you for making me think of those around me who need encouragement every day. It is so important. Still praying for you!

Michelle

Sheryl said...

i'm so glad you find us all to be an encouragement, but you must know what an ecouragment YOU are! i come here and read and don't go away the same. i LOVE the story of the friends carrying their friend on the mat. a pastor friend of mine pointed out how much work it was to drop him down through the roof. i always just read the story and kind of overlooked that they had to remove tiles to lower him in. what faith they had, what love for their friend.

you are loved and prayed for.
-sheryl

Lauren said...

Man!!! I love that story from the Bible. I just love how each story can speak to different people! Wow!! We have such an awesome God!

Marsha said...

You don't know me but I feel like I know you as I have been keeping up with your blog for some time now. Please know that you and your family have been in my prayers. I now have a prayer request for you. A young couple in our community will bury their 20 month old son this weekend. He has been in and out of Duke University since he was four months old with many problems with his immune system. Basically he did not have an immune system and the doctors were doing everything they could to create one for him. Wednesday night he gave up the fight while in his Mother's arms and went to be with our Lord. Please pray for little Noah's family as they go through this hard time. His parents are Kelvin and Tasha. You can see little Noah at http://littlenoah.smugmug.com. They could sure use some words of encouragement right now.
Marsha