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My heart sank when I picked up the mail. I had sent birthday greetings to a dear friend my husband and I had met after moving from communist Romania to Vienna, Austria. He, like my mom, had always encouraged me to write, and so I was eager to share with him about launching this blog. In the card I told him how “it took a pandemic for God to kick me in the pants and get me in gear to do what you, Mr. Petersen, had encouraged me to do YEARS ago!” I closed our greetings with “I wanted to tell you that YOU are a big part of my inspiration and courage in pursuing this goal! Thank you!”
And so seeing the envelope stamped RETURN TO SENDER caused my heart to sink.
My words were too late.
Our friend had died the end of January.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. (ESV)
Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. (MSG)Proverbs 3:27
I remember reading this verse as a new Christian. I thought to myself, “Well, if I can say something to encourage someone, if I can do something to help them… maybe that’s one way I can apply this.” And so I started trying to incorporate this principle into my life: whenever I had the opportunity to say or do something to encourage others/to build them up, I would endeavor to do so.
I wish I could say that I have consistently applied this ever since… but, like lots of things in life, I’m still learning. Still practicing.
Getting this RETURN TO SENDER envelope in the mail was a stark reminder that I still have a LONG way to go in learning to NOT put things off… to act NOW when God nudges me to say or do something. I was too late for Mr. Petersen… but what about today? How might I encourage someone today?
ALL of us need to hear a kind word, to be affirmed in who we are and what we do. Just imagine the difference it would make if everyone were lavish with their words and acts of kindness! If we would “not withhold good from those to whom its due, when it is in [our] power to do it.” If we would take seriously the fact that “[our] hand is God’s hand for that person.”
And as this becomes more and more natural in our lives, I would imagine that we truly will find joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”