As I look back on it, I also look ahead. Not to my own life, but to others. As I look on friends I hold dear, and friends that I would like to know better, leaders, helpers, mentors, and my families, I also see the same desolation--not in the same area, but Satan has an ever changing face--an ever changing persona. He comes to seek. He comes to steal. He comes to destroy.
I have felt God bless me with encouragement from others. I have felt His comfort in the love others have shown me. I have felt Satan coming seeking to make my relationship with Christ a desolate wasteland. I have felt the hopelessness and the hope, the pain and the joy, the heartache and the balm.
If you have reached out to Simeon and I in love, please know that your efforts were not in vain, because we, in turn, are doing something about it. As of January 1st, a portion of our giving budget (to clarify, this is not part of our tithe, completely separate budget), will be going towards encouraging someone, or multiple someones each and every month of 2014.
We had thought about sponsoring another child through Compassion International (which is a great way to sponsor a child, please pray about doing so). We had also thought about saving this money for our own possible adoption of a child (undecided). We had thought about giving to our church more, or missionaries, or for wells of drinking water...so many thoughts and ideas went through my head until I finally settled on this (with Simeon on board of course). You see, in this decision process, it was all so easy for me. Since Simeon does most of the bills, I never feel the sacrifice of giving to church. I never feel the pinch of finances like my obedient husband does. More importantly, if it's a habit, it isn't hard, and it requires such little work. I feel God wants us to be more of a blessing. I feel that God wants us to be aware of who needs encouragement and/or a blessing--and this is the way that we can do this. This will be hard to change our mindset to actively thinking about who we see needs encouragement, or a blessing in their lives. However, I think having to be so active in such a way, will be the greatest blessing of 2014.
So, this is a challenge to you as well. Maybe you have a budget for extra giving other than tithing. Maybe you don't. Either way, please take time and pray about this next year. Where you can take someone's heartache, bitterness, loneliness, and hopelessness, and whisper words of encouragement, reach out with arms of love, hand out blessings, and ultimately, illuminate the Truth.
I know what 2013 looked like. I don't know what 2014 will hold--and that, my dear friends, is an adventure waiting to happen.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
"See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end."