When I tell my dog Bella to “stay,” it means I want her to stay put, either sitting or standing, and not move from that spot until I tell her it is okay. She’s pretty good about listening up to a point, but then her puppy nature kicks in and she is ready to move again.
When I feel that God is telling me to “stay,” it is only through his Word and the words of those he puts in my path that I can interpret the meaning for this particular time in my life. Sometimes it might mean stay put, and in that case I might have to wrestle with my own restless spirit and the feelings that I need to be in control of my movement. But at other times, He could be telling me to stay focused, stay faithful, stay centered, stay immersed, or even stay happy. Currently, I believe He has been reminding me to stay connected.
I recently finished a Priscilla Shirer Bible study on Gideon subtitled “Your Weakness. God’s Strength.” It was an eight-week study that one of my neighbors invited me to join. The last time she invited me, I was too bogged down in work and could not afford to take the time away from my desk. If you’ve read any of my past blog posts, you’ll see that this has been somewhat of a reoccurring theme for me.
This time, however, I felt like I needed to takes some steps to get out of the rut I was in and begin to reconnect not only with other people but also with Scripture. So, I joined the Tuesday morning study, met some great ladies, and heard some powerful words from Priscilla. I did not always stay up-to-date on my homework or spend the time with it that I should have, but hey, I’m a work in progress, and I did make progress over the weeks.
When our study concluded this past Tuesday, many of us did not want it to be over. We planned a lunch date next month so that we could get together and share ideas for another study we could do or a book we could read and discuss or some other “thing” that would benefit our group and allow us to continue gathering and connecting. We were enjoying and wanted to continue the time of togetherness, the strengthening of our spirits, the accountability, and the encouragement.
Charles Stanley once wrote: “Consider the power of a friend’s encouraging words. Think about how meaningful it is when an unexpected blessing seems to fall from heaven right at your darkest moment. These are not ‘happy accidents’; rather, they are precious confidence builders from God.”
Speaking of unexpected blessings, the crazy thing about me running across this particular quote is that it came from an In Touch Daily Devotional on Gideon from October 7, 2008 that I just “happened to” run across a couple days ago. It was in one of my notebooks where I have printed out and saved words that spoke to me at previous points in my life. A good reminder that God’s Word (or words from those he has gifted spiritually) can speak to us over and over again at different times in our lives, and that the words we share with others to encourage them can be powerful reminders that we matter—to God and to others.
As someone who tends to spend a lot of time alone, I want to remind you (and myself) that I believe we are meant to live in community with one another and to be helpers and encouragers. Don’t miss out on the blessing that you can be to others and they can be for you. There is no reason for you to face your dark days alone and no reason to enjoy the great days without someone to share them with.
If you know of someone who doesn’t appear to be very connected, reach out to them with a phone call, email, or text (if you have their contact info); leave a note on their door or on their car; approach them at the grocery store or at church with a compliment or question. Sometimes people who seem to have it all together are actually struggling with something and, on top of that, they feel like they are facing it alone. Be the hands that reach out to grasp another’s and offer a squeeze of understanding or comfort. Sometimes all it takes is a smile to lift someone else’s spirits (and your own).
I think we all have a tendency to go through periods where we focus on the things affecting our own lives and forget that it’s not all about us. I would just like to remind you how wonderful and fulfilling it can be to stay involved and engaged and to be a friend to others. Even dogs understand the importance of the pack. Stay connected, my friends!
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet
as perfume and incense.” Proverbs 27:9, NLT