Image of church congregation after the service
Lightbulb moments

Quietly, one Sunday

It was after church one Sunday when she slipped quietly into the seat behind me. I sensed that she needed to speak and to be heard, so I excused myself from conversation with others around me.

She began with an apology for missing Bible study the previous week. She’d planned to let me know before our group met, but her courage and energy were at such a low ebb she simply didn’t know how to say that she was too exhausted to come.

Nothing left

To her, it didn’t seem like a legitimate reason, but this mum with young children had come to the end of her resources. She had nothing left to give.

I reassured her that we didn’t question her commitment to the group. And I added what I’d often thought but had never said: that I was genuinely encouraged by her determination and desire to join us each week. In spite of the many hurdles she encountered just to get there—let alone to concentrate or participate in the group—she consistently made every effort to come.

Permission

It was a simple statement of truth, but for her it granted permission to weep tears of tired relief. And it gave me a glimpse into her troubled and tender heart.

Although I’m long past that season of motherhood, the memories still run deep, especially the aching fatigue and the weary fragility once the limits of endurance have been reached. So it wasn’t hard to empathise.

Acceptance
Image of two women praying together
Photo by Prixel Creative | Lightstock.com

I don’t recall much of what I said that Sunday. But somehow, just the fact that I listened seemed to communicate understanding and acceptance—two things my friend seemed to need most just then.

I couldn’t fix anything for her. But as we prayed together afterwards, I rejoiced inwardly knowing that we were bringing her troubles before the One who already knew them, who would provide whatever she needed to persevere.

It can be so easy to keep everyday conversations comfortable and undemanding. We skate smoothly over the surface of life and allow subtle signs of distress and fleeting hints of sadness to go by unrecognised and unremarked.

Choosing to love

But this brief encounter reminded me that when I choose to love others with a glad and generous heart and give the gift of my full attention, our faithful Father never fails to use this for good.

It grieves me that too often I lack love, that I do not make every effort to care deeply for others. And sometimes when I do try, it feels as if I also lack sensitivity.

But I’m convinced that no matter how infrequent, clumsy or imperfect the attempt, to obey Jesus’ command to love one another is to reap a harvest of blessing and enjoy the undeserved fruit of God’s grace, kindness and love.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17b-19).

Featured image: Photo by Athena Grace | Lightstock.com

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