Looking through my memories over the past months, I’ve been shocked at the number of people who have been “The Face of Encouragement” for me. Too many to name.
My dad didn’t encourage with words but actions and attitude. My mother poured on the words of help and encouragement, especially in my teenage years. During the time that a child should be rebelling, she became one of my best friends.
Harriet Cunningham was my Bible teacher for six years. She shaped my love for the scriptures. I learned to teach and research from her. I still emulate her teaching techniques. Harriet was the first adult who insisted that I call her by her first name.
During the past two decades, The Special Gathering members who are developmentally disabled have poured out on to me such encouragement. I see Jesus in their faces when I’m sad or lonely. They won’t let me be discouraged. Their lifestyles and lifelong disabilities shout the untold blessings that God has poured out on my life.
As we faced, encountered and embraced my husband’s death, this past year must be called the Year of Encouragement in the annuls of my life. Because of folks who have poured out help, prods, advice and concern, it cannot be called a year of sorrow but a time of reflections and thankful gratitude. Other people made this grace and mercy possible.
Perhaps the greatest gift God has given to the world through his Son Jesus has been the encouragement that is made evident as we look into the face of a God who “would rather die than live without us.” I’ve never understood the claims of people who were scarred as a child because they were forced to attend church and hear the Gospel. I was abundantly blessed to have teachers who molded me with Scriptures that taught God knows the number of hairs on my head. Jesus takes care of the grass in the fields and wild flowers. He notes when a sparrow falls from the sky. I’m much more valuable to him than fields, streams and wild life. Therefore, he will take care of me.
One of the great joys of my childhood was to wander through fields of amazing wild flowers. This colorful array of blossoms sprang up each spring at the end of our street. As a teenager, I stopped picking the flowers to take to my mom because the flowers never lasted through the day in a vase. Yet, in the field there was a never-ending supply. As an adult, I developed my own wild flower garden. Summer in my yard is filled with brilliant flowers that need no care, fertilizer or water. They are a continuing reminder that God takes care of them as He nourishes and develops me.
Encouragement is a small gesture. A smile or nod of understanding. It is the grasp of a hand. Encouragement can be a life changing force. It takes the form of prayers of intercession in the night as a close friend cries out to the unseen world through FaceBook or Twitter.
Over a lifetime, who has been your Jesus Face of Encouragement? Who has been your anchor of encouragement during the past months?