It's been almost forty years since I received my first phone call and note of encouragement. I was a wife without a clue how to love my husband, a mother without a clue how to raise the two beautiful little daughters I adored, and a woman drowning in depression. A neighbor invited me to a women's Bible study that met at her church. I sat next to her in a circle of women who loved Jesus and listened to them express their faith in God in response to what they had studied that week in His Word. I was enthralled by their insight, kindness, and acceptance of a poor silly girl they welcomed into their world. It was a world which I did not understand but was strangely drawn to.
Later that week, Susie, the group leader called me to express her gratitude that I had joined them and she invited me back. She even commented on the few words I had managed to say during the discussion. Her words were like refreshing water on parched earth. I grew up in a family where words like that were not allowed. My mother feared that encouragement would turn into pride or laziness. Instead her constant criticism turned me into an insecure, anxious fearful mess. And so Susie's phone call that lasted only a couple of minutes gave me hope that another kind of life than the one I had known was possible. I doubt she had any notion of the power of her words that day.
A month or two later I mustered the courage to ask Kathy, the teaching leader, a question after class. She actually took me aside, sat down with me, and answered my question with clarity and kindness. Immediately I adored her. Later that week a hand written note arrived from her in the mail. I saw the return address and panicked. Had I done something wrong? Was she going to ask me never to come back? Hesitantly, I opened the envelop and pulled out a beautiful card with her own words inside. They were uplifting words, specific words, encouraging me in my quest to understand God and His Word. My heart took flight. I doubt she had any notion of the power of her words that day. Over the next fifteen years, women like Susie and Kathy remothered, mentored, and trained me. No amount of gratitude will ever suffice.
This week, we wrapped up our study of Revelation, Discovering Life for Today and Eternity, at my church's women's Bible study, and I was the teaching leader that day. Our small group celebrated what God had done among us and between us with good food, laughter, sharing in discussion of the final lesson, and reminiscing. The group also surprised me with a gift. One of them found a picture frame that matched the cover of the Revelation study, which I had written, and she wrapped it in a colorful bag as a "thank you". I doubt she has any notion of the power of her gift that day.
I have lived in the desert and I have lived in the garden. What's one thing that makes our Christian world a garden? Women who express Christ's love with thoughtful, special words and gifts. I suspect many have no notion of the power of their words and gifts in the lives of thirsty people who are dying for a drop of God's life giving water. That water quenches and heals everyday when women give words and gifts to others. So keep giving, dear friends. And I will too. It's how Jesus woos, wins, and nurtures today--through YOU! God uses your words and gifts as His megaphone. So shout out the love of God in what you say and what you do. It really makes a difference!