"Then David said to the messenger…Strengthen your attack upon the city and overthrow it. And encourage Joab."
II Samuel 11: 25
EXPLORATION "How To Be An Encourager --
A Lesson From the Life of Normie Liles"
"The greatest thing you can do for another is not just share your riches but reveal to them their own."
Who in my life serves as an "encourager" to me?
Do the people close to me believe I am an "encourager"?
How does it make me feel when someone encourages me?
"I will laud my enemies and they will become my friends; I will encourage my friends and they will become brothers. Always will I dig for reasons to applaud; never will I scratch for excuses to gossip. When I am tempted to criticize I will bite my tongue; when I am moved to praise I will shout from the roofs."
INSPIRATION "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person."
The Bible is filled with strange things that people have said. Let me give you one example which comes to my mind. In Genesis 4: 9 (K.J.V.), God asked Cain a question, "And the Lord said unto Cain, ‘Where is Abel thy brother?' And he said, ‘I know not: am I my brother's keeper.'" The unbelievableness of this statement is that Cain knew exactly where Able was for he had just murdered him. Cain's words were totally absurd, to say the least. While this is just one example of many times in the Bible when people said strange things, our text today contains another ridiculous response - this time from David. After a messenger from the battlefield arrived at the palace giving David a report about the goings-on of the war along with special emphasis given to the fact that Uriah the Hittite was dead, David instructed the messenger to go back to Joab and tell him to keep up the good work and continue forcefully with the battle and then there is this statement from David to the messenger, "And encourage Joab."
I had to read this line a couple of times. I asked myself, "How in the world was David encouraging Joab - a man whom he had enlisted in his plot to murder Uriah?" David, because of his evil behavior wasn't encouraging Joab. What he was really doing was "using" the messenger, whom I might add, likely did not know that Uriah had been slaughtered intentionally, to pump-up Joab's spirit with a phony pep-talk on how Joab should be happy on the battlefield as he lived with the knowledge of the crime he had engaged in. This verbal exchange got me thinking about the gift of encouragement - a gift we all possess -- and exactly how we use this treasured gift.
The word "encouragement" is defined as the ability to inspire with hope, courage or confidence. When we encourage another, we strength or hearten them. We foster a spirit of well-being and we lend our support to them. This, I want to point out, was not what David was doing. All he wanted to do was keep Joab's spirit strong during the war. David had an ulterior motive for his message to Joab. War was raging and he certainly didn't want the battle to be fought with the lead general down-in-the-dumps about the murder of David's thorn-in-the-flesh, Uriah.
And this brings me to a critical point that this text illuminates. We must be careful that the gift of encouragement, the gift of the way we use words to inspire others, is done with the touch of heaven. As Og Mandino so pointedly wrote about the results coming from our words. "Each kind word, spoken from my heart, can build a castle." Sadly though, today, many individuals in public life as well as private conversation, use words to flame the fires of bigotry; to instill fear in the hearts of the weak; and to promote distrust in anyone who doesn't agree with them.
What a tragedy, for our words should be heaven's tool to provide vital encouragement to hurting hearts in a desperate world. This is why I want to introduce you to Normie Liles. I've never met Normie, but oh, I know her. She's a solid brick of gold - the real thing. Normie lives in a senior residential home in Ohio. She faces some very substantial health issues and during the past few months, one of her sisters passed away. On occasion, Normie has asked for our prayers, but usually it's the other way around. She's the first to ask if there is someone for whom she should be praying. I could go on about this precious lady but let me tell you this, whenever I see that I have an email from Normie, my face lights up and I'm excited to see what she's going to send me because I know it's always something which will encourage my heart.
Yesterday was a perfect example. I had a long day with two doctor appointments capped off by my foot doctor carving on my feet. This left me in severe pain and with little ability to walk for the remainder of the day. However, when I arrived home, there it was. I opened up my Transformation Garden website and Normie had emailed me the most precious note of encouragement. She didn't know how badly I felt. She just did what comes naturally to her - she encouraged me. Even though she was having problems with her eyes due to glaucoma, she had time to look outside herself and encourage another person.
In August of this year, Normie, who is a wonderful poetess, sent me the following poem she had written and with her permission I'm sharing this with you.
Never Try To Make a Deal With God
"Sometimes in my frustration and despair
I wish to ‘make a deal' that is hardly fair
I fail to remember I'm already blessed
Kissed by the sunshine and sweet night's rest.
He sends me oceans of mercy
With sweet measures of grace
Without Him I would be nothing
I'm brought to my knees in prayer.
When the storms gather to blind my soul
I reach for the ‘Word' that makes me whole
I look for the rainbow after the rain
Without hesitation my sorrow doesn't gain.
If you try to ‘make a deal' with our God
You have tried on His Holy Infinite power
His love is endless, His love is supreme
Lean on His goodness, He'll carry you through.
I have been tempted to ‘make a deal' with God
But then I stopped quickly and without a nod
I realized that God isn't about ‘making deals'
He's there for to worship, trust and obey!"
At a time in life when a person might complain about the circumstances they find themselves in, Normie uses her gift of encouragement to inspire, to hearten and to lift others.
Blaise Pascal wrote that "kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men's souls, a beautiful image it is." This is why, although I have never met Normie, I have an image of her in my mind. It is a beautiful, encouraging image to be sure, for she painted this picture herself with her inspiring words of encouragement.
"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship, it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when (she) discovers that someone else believes in (her) and is willing to trust (her)."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
AFFIRMATION A Prayer in Honor of Women Encouragers
"Let there be in my life those women who,
knowing and unknowing,
flank my soul with
a sense of place and home.
Let them come
tiptoeing their gifts…
filling my heart's halls
with the food and drink
of laughter and tears, visions and memories.
Let them come
stomping out the wrath of
injustices indescribable agonies
of many sisters gone before,
many still to come.
Let them live and move
and take up residence in me
where, at last,
we cannot escape Your love."
Jan B. Anderson
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.