I like to get up early for a time of prayer and Bible reading, while the world is quiet and still. This morning, I was enjoying that quiet until a group of crows started cawing loudly outside my window. My first response was to be annoyed, but then I decided they were just praising the Lord. They can’t help it if they don’t have beautiful voices. I have often been personally thankful for the Bible verse that says to make a joyful noise to the Lord, for, like the crows, I wasn’t blessed with a beautiful voice.
The change in my perspective brought a smile to my face instead of a frown, and joy replaced frustration in my heart. I pray God will help me throughout the day to see things from His perspective instead of mine.
In Nehemiah 8:10, after the people had repented of their sins, they were comforted with these words: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” When I allow God to change my heart so that I see things from His perspective, I can experience supernatural joy. That makes the day a lot more pleasant!
“…encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Th 5:11
If God puts it on your heart to encourage someone, do it. They may need a love touch at that moment, and you might be surprised to discover that you need one, too!
I once wrote to one of our daughters telling her that I admired how she and her husband were handling a certain situation, especially in light of my feeling that I had fallen short as a parent in that area. She thanked me, and then proceeded to tell me all the ways she felt my husband and I had been successful in the way we modeled that behavior for our children. I thanked her (and God) for that love touch! My intention was to encourage them, but I discovered that I needed it, too!
There are some lessons I need to be frequently reminded of. One of those is to take time to pray when I’m unsure about something. A typical example is that I’ll be writing to someone and I’m about to say something, but then I wonder if I should. I may think I have very good reasons for why I should share that particular information or thought, but God may have reasons for why I shouldn’t. It may be something that should never be said, or it may be a matter of timing. God knows the needs of the person I’m writing to, so if I care about their feelings then I should consult, and obey, the Lord.
If I’m lacking peace about something, that’s a good indication that I should pray for guidance and give God time to reveal His will. No matter what type of decision I’m making, large or small, it’s always wise to seek God when I’m not sure what to do and then wait until I am sure.
In short, when in doubt, it’s best to pray and wait until I come to a conclusion that brings peace to my mind and heart.
Car in my blind spot
like Satan, whom the Lord sees
and protects against
Bright, prism rainbow
the Lord’s promise and glory
in the darkened sky
Bridal veil of light
brilliant, sheer amid dark clouds
God’s glorious hope
Golden, sun-lit leaves
pointed pines, puffy white clouds
lift my soul to Thee
Since we all have different backgrounds and personalities, our needs may differ, as well. Something that’s beneficial for me may not be beneficial to the person I’m talking to.
I’ll share an example. I’m a very meditative type of person. I often reflect on past mistakes and look for lessons in them so I can try to improve. (However, I do have to be careful to let go of the regrets and just hang on to the lessons.)
My husband, on the other hand, prefers to forget past mistakes because, for him, they are more a source of regret and guilt than a positive learning experience. He does, however, graciously allow me to share some of our mistakes (and the lessons I learned) on my blog. So, I need to prayerfully discern whether or not to share certain thoughts with him. Will it benefit him, or hurt him?
That’s a good question to ask ourselves in any conversation. Will our words benefit the listener? Being aware of the listener’s needs will help us to know the answer to that question.
In 1995, our family went to see the movie, “The Lion King.” We had various reactions to certain parts of the movie. One child was frightened by certain scenes and chose to leave. I was also bothered by those scenes and left with her. When we came back for the rest of the family, I asked what they thought. One of them had also been bothered by certain scenes but wanted to see how it ended. The other two said they were fine with it.
There are two ways I could look at this. I could simply acknowledge that we’re all different and thus react differently. (This is the healthy perspective.) Or, I could compare them to myself and become critical of those whose opinion differed from mine, concluding that they are less “sensitive” than I am.
The Bible tells us not to judge others critically. God is the only one who has the right to judge because He alone is perfect. We are each unique and how we respond to things will vary. It is rarely, if ever, healthy to “compare” people. Instead, we should view them with respect, even if our opinions differ.
This past year, Tom and I have had the privilege of hosting a 19-year-old German missionary, Michelle. She has been a beautiful role model in compassionate joy. One small way this was in evidence was during our Skip Bo card games. Instead of being competitive, she truly didn’t care if she won and she’d always cheer others on when they played a good hand.
Near the end of her stay, we learned that she sometimes allowed someone else to win. During her last two nights with us, I talked to my husband and Kat (the other missionary who lives with us) and suggested we work as a team to see if we could secretly help Michelle to win. We tried our best, but the cards didn’t play out right. Other people won. However, I noticed how relaxing it was to play when I honestly didn’t want to win.
Each of us have many opportunities to serve and encourage others in both small and large ways. When we do so, we’re more likely to experience peace and joy than when we’re focused on ourselves.
Thank you, Michelle, for being such a great role model of a servant heart. We’ll miss you, but your positive influence will remain with us.