Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another Encouraging Example

Welcome to those of you joining me from The Encouragement Cafe. It is a joy to be sharing a devotional there today! (Read it by clicking HERE.) Like I shared, Elizabeth sets an encouraging example for all of us. I want to be a friend like her.

As I've read Elizabeth's story in Luke 1 and reflected on my own life, God has brought something to mind. Through the years He has blessed me with "Elizabeths" - women who are a little further along on the walk of faith, who bless me with their words and wisdom. They set an example for me as a child of God, wife, mother, friend and woman in ministry. I often thank God for how He works through them to bless, equip and correct me.

Recently, He's opened my eyes to the part I play in this process and He's used Mary to provide another encouraging example. Friends, Mary is the mother of God's Son and our Savior; she's played a role NOBODY else ever will, but yet she's one of God's girls just like you and me. She heard from an angel and embraced God's plan, but I wonder if she struggled with worry, doubt or fear? I know I would have if I was in her shoes!

But Mary responded with a humble heart and trusted the Lord's words would be fulfilled. It's what she does next that has had me thinking. Luke 1:39-40 tells us, "At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth." She went to Elizabeth, her older cousin. She didn't wait for her to call or worry that she wasn't invited.

An angel has never greeted me and I haven't been called to carry God's child, but God has led me to step out of my comfort zone, He's asked me to walk through some trials and He's put me in situations where I needed help. During those times, He's done much and drawn me to Himself, but He's also put it on my heart to do what Mary did - go to someone older and wiser who will encourage and point me to the Truth.

I hate to admit, I don't always respond like Mary did. Instead my mind takes over and I battle the doubts - I don't want to be a burden and I can think I'm not worthy of "Elizabeths'" time or words. Pride also tries to convince me to be quiet and not put my problems out there. In my mind, I often wait for the invitation from the one I respect while I long for the wisdom from the one I trust. And sometimes waiting is good and right and what God wants, but others it's Satan succeeding at what he does best - stealing opportunities, killing connections and destroying plans God wants to unfold. (John 10:10)

Friend, I've failed at following Mary's example in going more than I want to admit, but I have followed it and been blessed. I can think of a few specific situations when God put it on my heart to reach out and though it was out of my comfort zone and involved a battle, I did it. God blessed my obedience and touched my heart through the "Elizabeth" He'd brought across my path.

The other day I was visiting with someone who's walking through a hard situation and I asked, "Have you talked with anyone about this?" Her response? "Not really." I hurt for her, but I also understood her pain and could relate to her position. Opening up can be hard to do, but I've been reminded and I pray you will be encouraged that it is an important Godly thing to do. Friend, we need sisters in Christ just like Mary needed Elizabeth, we need to connect with another so that God can work in and through us to help one another grow, stand firm and repent.

If you are hesitant to go to an "Elizabeth" I encourage you to follow Mary's example and take the initiative to connect with the one who is a step ahead. Remembering these verses just might help!

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." 1 Timothy 1:7

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Friend, regardless of your age, God's created you to do what He calls you to. He's also filled you with His spirit and will equip you with His power, so trust and walk with Him so that you can obey and glorify Him. Mary and Elizabeth did this...may we their example encourage us to do the same!!

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