Spring is still a bit hard to notice here on the hill. Luci Shaw would say that it’s “a promise in the closed fist of a long winter,” and the chunk of snow still melting on the north, shaded side of the house would attest to that poetic description. Even so, there is hope in the increased confidence and melodic recklessness of the early morning birdsong.
My dear Auntie Dawn is every minute of ninety years old, and yet she has found the secret to perennial spring of heart, mind, and imagination. All my life she has informed me that the reason why birds sing so beautifully in the spring of the year is to encourage the buds on the trees to open.
“Now, wait a minute,” you might be saying. “We are women of science here, and we know that the buds open in response to increased hours of daylight as our planet leans ever closer to the sun. Those buds are responding to the warming temperatures that signal it’s time for the life of the tree to start moving up from the roots and into the branches.”
However, there’s so much we don’t know about cause and effect and the God in whom “all things hold together” that I don’t think he minds one bit if I listen to the birds and start watching for the buds to swell bright red on the maple trees. Maybe they are encouraged by the birds. (I know I am!)
The truth is, I think our encouragement of one another can feel a bit like spring bird song. Paul admonished the believers in Thessalonica in this way:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
There are days when I have a hard time seeing the connection between what I’m doing and any particular outcome at all. Is there a single atom or molecule in the universe that is being affected by my tiny act of service to God or to his people? Maybe to you also it seems more likely that the cardinal chirping his heart out in the top of the old pine tree behind the garden is helping the fat green buds somewhere nearby to stretch into the sunshine! One thing is certain: the cardinal is not thinking about outcomes right now–he’s just singing his song!
My encouragement to you today is to keep on singing, too. Keep on sharing your homemade muffins. Or writing cheerful notes. Or calling/texting your people to check on them. Or putting on your mask and providing excellent patient care. Or facing the homeschool curriculum for another day. Or showing up to scan groceries for worried customers.
Among all those Things We Don’t Know that I mentioned earlier is the way our loving acts of service and encouragement will land on someone’s heart. They may never get around to telling you, but your small offering of love could change their whole day.
Too, I’ve noticed that sometimes I am the one who needs the heart change that comes from serving someone else. Maybe you are singing your heart out in this challenging time because of some good work that God wants to do in you.
How are you being changed by the simple, unseen, and yet God-directed acts of encouragment that he has assigned to you in these days of uncertainty?
Thank you for all the ways you encourage me!
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