November 11, 2009
The Power of Encouragement
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
I hate open heights. I can't stand balconies, and when driving across a bridge, you'll find me hugging the rail along the inside lane.
Some friends tried to help me conquer my fear of heights by inviting our family to an indoor rock-climbing center. My heart stopped as we entered the doors and I scanned the highest peak at 25 feet! The instructors assured me that a web of ropes and harnesses would hold me tight. Before I could say "no thank you," I was strapped in and signing an injury waiver.
Towards the end of the day, our friends John and Laura encouraged their eight-year-old son Steven to climb to the highest peak - promising tokens and ice cream if he did it. Steven was afraid of heights, too, but he loved a dare. The promise of reward, mixed with the challenge and faith of his father evoked courage in him.
I watched with admiration as Steven started the climb with confidence. He made it to 10 feet, then 15, then 20. But as he inched past the next face of the wall, he saw how far he still had to go. In fear, he looked down with tears and claimed he couldn't do it. Then he cried out for his daddy's help.
By this time, Steven's dad was holding their very tired 3-year-old and his mom was feeding their hungry baby girl. I don't know where my brave husband was, but I quickly realized I was the only one standing there who could do something.
Suddenly courage and strength surged through my body and I called out, "Don't give up buddy. You can do it. I'll help you!"
In record time, I reached the 20-foot marker, crossed over the peak and came up beside Steven to encourage him, reminding him of how far he'd come. I told him he could do it with God's strength and that it would be worth it if he'd persevere. With my words and my confidence in him, I helped Steven turn his thoughts towards a higher goal, an inner peak, a reward much greater than ice cream and game tokens - the reward of getting to a place he had stopped believing he could reach.
Funny how I stopped thinking about my fears when I was focused on encouraging someone else to overcome theirs. I realized that the same promises I had claimed for Steven were true for me, too. I could do it with God's strength, and I did!
Each day we have the same opportunity. Like God did with Joshua in today's key verse and like He does with us, we can come alongside each other in some of life's hardest challenges and highest peaks and say, "Don't give up, you can do it. I'll be with you and help you."
When we take our eyes off our fears, our doubts, our struggles and focus on someone else's needs, we somehow forget our own, for a little while. In believing the power of God's promises for others, our confidence in His promises for us seems to grow as well.
Lord, Thank you for the power of Your Words that give me courage to become who You've created me to be - to go to places You're calling me to go and climb spiritual heights that are out of my reach without Your help. Give me Your encouragement today, and help me encourage someone, too. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Visit Renee's Blog for more encouragement today!
Girlfriends' Road Trip - a message on CD about building Godly friendships, by Renee Swope
Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Jennifer Rothschild
Ask God to encourage your heart today with a promise from His Word that offers hope and power in the midst of your circumstances.
Write a note, leave a message or send an email with a promise and a prayer to someone who needs encouragement.
How has someone's encouraging words impacted my life in the past? How has God's words of encouragement helped me do things I never thought I could?
Psalm 69:32, "The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God's help be encouraged.'" (NLT)
Deuteronomy 3:28, "But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see." (NIV)
Psalm 10:17, "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, (NIV)
© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 11 November 2009.