He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece...
Thoughts for Today:One of the greatest gifts a friend, coach, mentor, or parent can give another person is encouragement -- and that is exactly what Paul did as he traveled throughout the area on his way to Greece. I am left with the impression that Paul was completely unhurried, taking as much time as was needed -- never rushing. In fact, Luke, the author of Acts, expresses it this way: "and finally [Paul] arrived in Greece." Almost as if he was wondering if Paul would ever arrive at his destination.
This past week I have been playing the role of nursemaid to my twenty-one year old daughter Rebecca following a very complicated knee surgery. Rebecca tore her PCL tendon in a collision with an opposing goalie during a high school soccer game. Four years later, the knee finally became too much of a problem for her -- hence the surgery last week. In the weeks and then days leading up to her surgery, Rebecca became increasingly agitated -- she was terrified of going under anesthesia -- wondering if she would ever wake up. I'm sure it's why she put it off so long. The night before the surgery Rebecca stayed with us (she is a college student and has her own apartment). Just before bedtime, she wanted to talk and have me to go over the whole procedure with her one more time -- as I did so tears started to roll down her cheeks -- my tough little girl was scared. What she said next broke my heart, "Daddy, you won't let anything bad happen to me, will you?" I reassured her once again that I would go to the "ends of the earth" to protect her, that we had chosen the doctor carefully and done our homework -- it was now in God's hands; I hugged her tight, we then prayed, giving the result to God for perhaps the two hundredth time.
Surgery the next day was very successful and just before I tucked her in that night -- Rebecca grabbed my hand and looked at me with those big green eyes and said, "Daddy I love you. I don't know what else to say but thank you for always being there for me." I nearly turned to mush, but after I kissed her forehead I somehow I choked out, "Whenever you need me -- I'm there -- always." I have been so incredibly blessed by being Rebecca's encourager, as I am every time I find an opportunity to encourage someone. I can't help think that in our passage today Paul must have felt the same way -- blessed as much by being the encourager as the people who were being encouraged. To really be there for Rebecca I needed to put everything else in my life on hold -- the phone, work, ambition, impatience, and yes, even golf. But it was worth it -- just ask Rebecca.
Questions to Ponder:There are two points I wanted to make today regarding the mutual blessing of encouragement: first, the blessing goes both ways (to the encouraged as well as the encourager); and second, in order to really encourage someone (not superficially); it's critically important to focus and clear out all distractions. Do you think Rebecca would have felt so encouraged if I was on the phone with work or returning emails when she needed my attention? How do you handle your opportunities to encourage? Who do you know right now who could use some time and attention? Will you pick up the phone? Will you clear from your life the distractions that keep you from being a blessing to others?