She was sitting behind me at the school concert. I was there to see my boys and she was there to see her grandchildren perform. After a sweet hour of listening to children singing, we found ourselves talking. At first the conversation was just casual chit chat about life and family, but right away I discerned something special about this woman. She was deliberate. Each word seemed chosen, not blurted. Her eyes sparkled and she seemed to really see me--a stranger, but a sister.
Did she sense I was weary? Could she tell I was discouraged? Did she wonder if our lives had intersected that night for a reason? I don't know. But she leaned in and started telling me this wonderful story about a bird. I actually don't remember the name of the bird. But I remember her story...
Her story took place many years ago when she and her husband were missionaries in Pakistan and on furlough in London, England. It was a time in her life when she was burdened and discouraged. She didn't share with me reasons or details for her heavy heart, but simply described how this one afternoon she was praying as she walked beside a London canal. At one point she looked beside her and saw this beautiful and rare bird. She continued to walk along and this bird hopped along beside her, taking short flight and then landing close ahead. She described marveling how, in His personal and perfect care for her, He'd brought this bird alongside her, reminding her of truth.
He created this small creature.
He knows the details of every feather.
He knows when it will fly and when it will land,
He provides for it, cares for it, gives it a nest.
All this for a bird... How much more, then, for me, His daughter.
God knows when we need encouragement. And sometimes He brings along something small but beautifully detailed to remind us of His love for us.
Her words were gentle and I remember clumsily wiping away tears and taking a steadying breath before saying:
And sometimes... sometimes what He brings alongside us is a person, a sister in Christ who speaks words of grace and hope.
Our God is one who encourages His people; He's a God who raises the downcast, lifts burdens, and brings hope. In our own experience as Christians we've seen that He accomplishes this at different times through different ways.
Sometimes it's in full, moving color, and He encourages us by walking us beside birds or flowers or ocean waves, using His world to remind us of the promises in His word.
Sometimes it's in paper-thin black and white, and He encourages us as we read His great story of redemption.
Sometimes it's in flesh and blood, and He encourages us through a brother or sister in Christ that He brings alongside us, to see us, to care for us, to speak His truth to us.
A story about a bird. And a quiet woman ready to speak.
I want to be like her. I want to be an encourager. I want to collect stories of God's goodness and be ready to tell.