Hiding the Word:
We’ve returned home after a long and exciting family day at our area Awana games. Our two oldest girls competed in Sparks-A-Rama for the first time. We cheered them on from the bleechers as they popped balloons, dodged balls, and ran like lightning-ish around the gym floor.
Our coaches and the kids worked hard for weeks to practice the games, to learn the rules, and to develop discipline, listening skills, teamwork and kindness.
I was so proud of our team. Not only that, but I loved the sweet cheerleading of my youngest daughter as she sat in the stands and picked her sisters out from the crowd. Whether they were racing or sitting on the line while another team played, Catherine didn’t stop yelling, “Go, Toria! Go Lauren!”
We all need people in the stands cheering us on, whether we’re in the thick of the battle or resting for a few quiet moments. God has commissioned us all with pom poms and asked us to call out our words of praise, perseverance, and encouragement for others.
So, that’s the verse that’s on my heart for the week. It’s a challenge to each of us to be the cheerleader that someone else needs.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).
The Giving of Courage
Originally Published 04/27/2011
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
My sweet baby girl is my cheerleader. I finish putting the clothes in the dryer and she claps her hands excitedly for me. I change her diaper; she shouts yay! yay! and applauds with enthusiasm. I drop the last of her toys into the basket and she does a happy dance and showers me with praise. When I slide the last puzzle piece into place with her, she cheers and shouts. If you spent the tiniest bit of time in my home, you’d think I won an Olympic medal every hour all day long because my “crowd goes wild” just that often. My little crowd of one tiny, joyful cheerleader.
Has someone been a cheerleader for you before?
You sit tired in the pew at church after the rush of Sunday morning preparation, but you made it and all your children sit next to you with clean clothes on. Small victories. Then a comforting hand reaches across your shoulder and a friend tells you, “Great job. You’re such a great mom.”
You push your cart through the grocery store and try to efficiently and frugally shop all while monitoring the arms and legs of your various kids and periodically reminding them to use “inside voices,” when an unknown woman whispers to you, “Your children are so well-behaved.”
You pour yourself out into the ministry you know God has called you to and yet there are those moments and days when you wonder if it really matters, if it does any good, if anybody is blessed by it, if it’s worth the time and effort you spend on it. Then, you sort through the bills after collecting your mail and find buried in there a card from a friend, a note of appreciation and thanks, a prayer, a verse.
You’ve been struggling. Life is hard. You don’t know what decisions to make. You’re hurting and overwhelmed. Then an email arrives and a friend says, “I’m praying for you.”
God uses others to bring us these messages of hope and encouragement at just the right moments in our lives, filling needs we can’t even always identify. It’s one of the reasons He designed us to travel together—He knows our hearts sometimes need this cheerleading from others. When we stray from the group, when we go off on our own and try to live faith solo, we are easy prey for attack. The Israelites learned this on their journey out of Egypt: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, NIV).
If your heart is weary and in need of some encouragement today, look to your right and your left for your group; be sure that you are connected and not lagging behind. Perhaps the first step needs to come from you in a search for the Christian community that will walk alongside you and encourage you along the journey to the Promised Land.
But you can also ask God for the refreshing your heart needs. He knows exactly what will fill your spirit, giving you strength to overcome fatigue, guidance when you need direction, laughter when your heart lacks joy. As the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, God led them to an oasis: “They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters” (Exodus 15:27). Priscilla Shirer writes: “‘Twelve springs of water’ to match the twelve tribes of Israel. What a great illustration of God’s overwhelming care and specific concern for His people. He knows exactly what it takes to refresh you.”
He is the shepherd who knows His sheep. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3). Sometimes we sheep feel the hunger and thirst; we know we are empty and in need of filling, but we depend on a Shepherd to guide us to the perfect place for refreshing and provision.
And when He has led us beside the waters so perfect and the green pastures so filling, we have a testimony to share with others, a story to help them along the way as well. Like the Psalmist, we declare:
“Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:7-8).
We who have received encouragement, in turn encourage others through our testimony. This encouraging truly is the giving of courage, placing it into the heart of another. Isn’t that what this cheerleading does? It renews our strength so that we persevere and press on. God asks us to do this for one another, to stand on the sidelines of a race and cheer, shout, and applaud for the runners: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).
How can you be a cheerleader for someone else today?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King