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Sheer Encouragement

By October 6, 2015awaken DEVOTIONALS

The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not influence but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience.

––J.R.R. Tolkien on the impact of C.S. Lewis on The Lord of the Rings

When I was ten years old, my mom and dad signed me up in this program at church called Crusaders. So every Wednesday, they would drop me off in the evening for an hour and half of games, skills instruction, and Bible teaching. As a crusader, I was given my own uniform: a light blue shirt with a navy blue sash worn over the shoulder and across the chest.

 I had my doubts about the uniform, and there were times when motivation waned for the pursuit of the badges to be displayed on the sash, but the evenings I spent in that program were all made worth it by the encouragement I received on one particular night…

 Commander Elder, or rather Mr. Elder, the commanding officer of our Crusader chapter, had just finished reading a passage from the Bible to us, seated before him in perfect formation, when he paused, looked up, and asked a question.

 “Would anyone like to tell me what this passage means?”

Dead silence in the room. Each crusader turned and looked at the crusader next to him, then turned back toward Command Elder.

“Now come on, everyone; surely one of you has an idea of what’s being said here! Will anyone take a shot?”

Still silent. But in that silent moment, I found that slowly, and almost without my consent, my hand had risen into the air.

“Yes Daren? What do you think?” And I told him, albeit with a somewhat nervous, pre-pubescent quaver.

“Excellent, Daren, that is exactly right. You know what? I think you may have a gift for interpreting the Bible.”

 And that was it. An unpayable debt had been rendered to me, a seed had been planted that was to grow into something that neither I nor Commander Elder could have guessed in that moment.

In the first of three talks entitled, “Sheer Encouragement,” Earl Palmer identifies and describes five types of encouragement: that of the evangelist, the teacher, the priest, the prophet, and the mentor. But despite their distinctiveness the essence of what the encourager is doing in all five of these types of encouragement is serving as an audience. 

 I believe this is exactly what God is calling us to be for each other here at Awaken: a community of audience members, just as Lewis was for Tolkien, serving each other with timely encouragement. So have a listen to that talk by Mr. Palmer, especially if you happen to be a teacher (here’s part 2 and part 3). As you listen, ask God to help you, and to help us all become audience members for each other, encouraging each other in our discipleship under Jesus.

Pastor Daren Redekopp

 p.s. This Thanksgiving Sunday, rather than our regular get-together at 4pm, Awaken joins Morrow in their service at 10:45am!

p.p.s The Lord is calling to you today. You are his, you belong to Him, you have a home in Him, if only you will rest in Him, be still in his word, and open up to him in prayer. In God you have an audience!

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