Support System

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan; Photo by W.D. Huey

So encourage each other and build each other up. –1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. –Ephesians 6:18 MSG

Wednesday morning found me plopped in my cozy chair for my quiet time. But I was too worn and weary to focus on praying or reading my devotional materials. The weekend had been busy, but a good busy. I’d spoken at a ladies luncheon Saturday, conducted the worship service at the church where I’m the lay pastor and delivered the sermon on Sunday, and officiated a funeral on Monday. I’d come home after the funeral and took a three-hour nap, which left no time for any other work.

Tuesday I did the usual “miscellaneous Monday” items on my schedule, which took up the entire day. By Wednesday I was, as my grandmother used to say, “all pooped up.”

How on earth was I going to complete four devotionals for a quarterly magazine due that day? I hadn’t a clue what to write. I’d read the assigned Scriptures and studied the commentary notes, but nothing jumped out at me.

“These are the worst Scriptures they’ve ever given me,” I complained to my husband.

I was also dealing with the post-speaking spiritual warfare I usually encounter after speaking engagements.

Add to that lower back and hip pain that had progressively gotten worse over the winter. I’d hoped the arrival of warmer, dryer weather would alleviate the constant ache, but it only worsened. It didn’t matter what I did—stretches, short walks, water aerobics, alternating sitting and standing—I was hobbling and hurting all day long. OTC pain relievers help some, but I have to watch what I take so it doesn’t interfere with my blood pressure medicine.

Growing old ain’t fun.

So there I sat with a heating pad on my back, without the slightest inkling of motivation.

But … it was Wednesday, the weekly prayer day for the Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference planning team, of which I’m a member. We’ve gotten close over the 10 years we’ve worked together and now support each other in prayer. Every Wednesday we email our prayer needs to each other.

So I emailed my precious sisters-in-Christ: “Sorry for bothering you so much. This is the time the adversary attacks most viciously—after speaking engagements and sermons, and I delivered three over the weekend. Too weary to fight the battle or even put on my armor.”

To which Margaret replied: “That’s okay. We will cover you with our prayers. Now just rest assured that you are loved, and the ONE who loves you never gets tired.”

Thursday morning I emailed them:

“Your prayers made all the difference yesterday. In the morning I was weary and worn, wondering how I would meet my deadline. I wanted to stay plopped in my cozy chair all day. I had no idea what I was going write on the assigned Scriptures. I faced the day drained mentally, physically, and emotionally.

“This morning I re-read what I emailed you. ‘Was that only yesterday?’ I thought.

“Not only did I meet my deadline of four devotionals (and was amazed at how they came together!), but I took a short walk around the garden after lunch and made a pastoral visit to the hospital in the evening. Where did the energy come from? Your prayers!”

And now that I think of it, my back didn’t bother me at all Wednesday night.

Just like a bridge needs a support system for it to hold up and do what it was designed to do, so do we.

How about you? Do you have a support system?

Thank you, Lord, for those who help us over, under, around, and through each day with their faithful prayers. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12.

Spring Cleaning

Image courtesy of Vecteezy.com

You are already made clean by the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:3 RSV

I don’t spring clean. My mother did, though. So did my mother-in-law. Both turned the house upside-down every spring to get to the ceilings, walls, floors, and giving everything on and in them—and I mean everything—a good scrub-down.

It’s not that I don’t like a clean house. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I can’t stand for things to be out of place. I’d wait until I couldn’t stand the dust anymore to get out my Swiffer duster. The floor was vacuumed more often once I bought a new, lightweight upright that swiveled and maneuvered around furniture like a sleek racecar and was easier on my back. Occasionally I gave the house a thorough cleaning, but not annually and not all at once. I couldn’t handle that.

But since DH retired, he’s taken over the cleaning duties so I could have the time to write. He’s much better at keeping the house clean than I was. He doesn’t let things go until he can’t stand it any longer.

Just as I need to give my house a thorough cleaning periodically, so must I do the same with my spirit, going through room by room, tossing the trash and clutter that’s accumulated, and sweeping away all the dust and dirt—the residue of everyday living.

My spiritual “Swiffer” is the Word of God; my vacuum cleaner, prayer. And what better time to do my spiritual spring cleaning than Lent? Beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter morning, Lent is a time to examine ourselves for anything that clutters and dirties our spirits, hindering our spiritual growth and thus our relationship with God.

That’s why I’m taking a“40-Day Challenge” to read through the Gospels by Easter. Two chapters a day will get me through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for Easter than to read through the accounts of the life and ministry of Christ written by His closest disciples.

I’m also keeping a SOAP journal, copying one verse of Scripture to meditate on (“S”); writing down in one or two sentences what I see (observe) in that verse (“O”) and how to apply it to my life (“A”); and finally a one or two sentence prayer (“P”) relating to the verse. I like the SOAP format because wordy me has to be concise, and it’s in that very conciseness that the meaning shines like a cleaned and polished room.

Prayer is also a vital aspect of the 40-day challenge. Prayer is simply talking to God. I keep a prayer journal at the back of my SOAP journal. I note personal prayers and requests for others. I pray for needs on my heart, folks and situations the Holy Spirit brings to mind as I pray. I also record when and how my prayers are answered.

My spiritual spring cleaning may turn things topsy-turvy. Although I like order and organization, I’ve got to give God room to work—and trust Him for the results.

Why not take the 40-day challenge with me?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a new and right spirit within me. Search me and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (Based on Psalms 51:10 and 139:23, 24)

More “tea” for the 40-day challenge: 2 Timothy 3:16; Jeremiah 29:13; James 4:8; Psalms 51 and 139; Hebrews 4:12.

Read and reflect on Psalm 19:7-14

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.