68 Days: Encouragement

I really, really needed this post today. Sent it to my husband and daughters. The story about Rabbi Schneur Zalman was wonderful. Thank you for writing. You are indeed a benefit to the body.

Blessings!

-Linda in a comment on
one of my blog posts

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (ESV)

Sometimes when I’m physically tired and haven’t had enough sleep, I irrationally become discouraged and “bluesy.” I was feeling that way last night, especially after reading some of the more recent and “cranky” responses on Gene Shlomovich’s blog. (Gene’s blog is fine and most of the respondents are too, but not all of them, alas.) This goes along very well with my “Days” series and my countdown to renewal or (virtual) oblivion.

But I’ve been receiving some encouragement. A lot of it is “behind the scenes” but some of it comes in the form of blog comments, such as the one I quoted above. I suppose it’s sort of ironic that I should be encouraged by someone telling me that I’m encouraging them. But isn’t that the point? One of the things I find greatly discouraging is all this bickering on the web between (supposed) brothers in Christ Jesus over who is right and who is wrong, as if this is some sort of twisted form of the recent Presidential debates, and God is the moderator who will decide who wins and who loses.

Really, if God is going to judge us on our actions, I seriously don’t think it will have much to do with our “debates” on all our blogs:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV)

I know in the church, we believe that we are saved, not through what we do, but by our faith in Jesus Christ. However, we see that self-same Jesus Christ judging by what we do or fail to do for our fellow human being (and ultimately, for him). I suppose there’s no contradiction here, since if our faith and trust is true and we are actual and authentic disciples of our Master, then our actions following that faith and trust should be almost automatic. We should naturally be found feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, comforting the grieving, extending hospitality to the homeless and lost, and much, much more.

I don’t think we’ll win the race (2 Timothy 4:7) by “winning” a blogosphere argument (and let’s face it, nobody ever changed their minds on the web because of someone else’s devastating argument or piercing witticisms).

So, in writing about what I always write about, that is, whatever’s on my mind and heart at the time, I managed, through God’s grace, to encourage another believer traveling her own path of faith. Fingers pressing keys on a keyboard, and electrons zipping across the Internet managed to communicate the will and kindness of God from one human being to another. How could I not feel honored that my small “service” has been accepted as it was intended?

But I truly believe that those who really have “fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith” probably don’t even know how to create a blog, let alone have the time to write on one. They’re too busy feeding the poor, clothing the naked, making sure the homeless have shelter, opening their homes to the needy, and doing a thousand other things that serve God and provide His generosity to the very least of His servants.

I’m glad, in the middle of my own meager efforts, that I was able to encourage one human being. Thank you Linda, and everyone else who has commented kindly to me, for continuing to encourage me as well. For that’s what our Master, and Paul, his Apostle to the nations, have commanded us to do.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35 (ESV)

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6 thoughts on “68 Days: Encouragement”

  1. I also received a note of encouragement from a recent lecture in NYC. Honestly, it was a 3 hour discussion with a group of about 80 people that I thought went nowhere. I left the time a bit discouraged, then today I got this note:

    “I like to thank you for visiting our congregation in NYC. As a gentile your message of redemption and the differences of it for the Jewish people and the Christian Gentile was and is extremely important for those of us who seek to work together to achieve the goal of redemption. Your message to the Gentiles, on returning to the Church and sharing the Jewish perspective of the life of our Messiah Jesus, the land, the people and scriptures of Israel made so much sense, and will allow Christian Gentiles to work side by side with Messianic Jews to achieve the redemption God has granted us through Messiah Jesus.”

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Boaz (I changed the formatting of the note so it is more differentiated from your own text).

    Every action we take is like dropping a pebble in a still pond. We have no idea, once the pebble has left our fingers, what will happen when it disturbs the surface of the water, and who will be affected by our “ripples” and how. I think this is one of the ways we see God’s miracles.

    Blessings and safe travels back home.

  3. James I also want to thank you as well. I really feel like I’m in a dark place right now in this season of my life and your blog has really been a beacon of light for me these past several months. As far as I’m concerned you are a great example of a christian with his theology in the right place. Stay encouraged.

  4. James,
    I am greatly encouraged that you were encouraged. Being outcasts from the faith of our families, and now outcasts from the movement that we found ourselves in the midst of, we have found ourselves in a desert. Yet the desert can be a good place. It has been a place of getting back to His word and casting off lots of baggage we had picked up. Your blog has been a light for me as well. (I know you probably find that amusing, given the place you are in now.) It has been refreshing to read and find out that so many thoughts I have had, or even not been able to rightly form, you have put to paper (screen). Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for the light you are holding up, for it is helping to light the way for others as well.
    Many blessings,
    Linda

  5. Your blog has been a light for me as well. (I know you probably find that amusing, given the place you are in now.)

    Actually Linda, I don’t find it amusing at all, but reassuring. Part of what I hoped to accomplish with this blog is to encourage others and be encouraged by others. The message that is at the top of this blog was taken from Rabbi Tzvi Freeman’s interpretation of the writings of the Rebbe:

    When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness.

    Those words provided both the name of this blog and it’s “mission,” to be something inspiring for whoever reads it each morning (and occasionally at other times of the day). Admittedly, what I write isn’t always obviously uplifting, but it has the benefit of being what some people call “transparent.” Pretty much, what you see is what you get, which isn’t readily available on the web or often, in real life, either. I think that’s what we are all looking for and I think, at our core as people of faith, it’s who we want to be. Maybe it’s who God created us to be.

    I too wait for God in the desert, but as I once wrote, it’s also where He waits for me.

    Peace.

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