Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas
(which means “son of encouragement”), -Acts 4:36
It has been one of “those” weeks! I would not trade one single day of what God has called me to do, for anything, but some days are just a little bit (ok, sometimes MORE than a little bit) more challenging than others.
In the nine plus years of full-time service to the Lord, my husband and I have adopted the saying that “Ministry is not for sissies.” We are acutely aware of the spiritual battles that are constantly waged against us, and we accept it as the norm; an actual confirmation that we are on the right track in our mission.
However, this “right track” does occasionally create an environment which can foster feelings of frustration, isolation, discouragement, exhaustion, and disappointment. One doesn’t need to be a missionary to find themselves in this place, and everyone has their own level of what it takes to get them there. It’s a human struggle.
Now, as a full-time missionary wife of a Pastor, I am supposed to say that in these times, I simply go straight to my knees and find comfort in the Father’s arms…and I do. BUT, it is an extremely powerful balm when God sends me a “son of encouragement”, a “Barnabas” in the flesh. I don’t ask for human intervention very often, because my nature is to “suck it up, and don’t be a baby”. However, when He sees my desolation and decides to further comfort me in a more tangible way, it forever imprints my heart. It becomes a reference point for me when I need a boost.
I love how creative He is. Speaking to my spirit through simple unknowing acts of genuine kindness, love, and support. There was a time early on in our ministry that we were under serious warfare, and negative situations and emotions had burdened me to a point of profound exhaustion. I could not cry enough or pray enough to transform the despair. Although not ready to jump ship, I was beginning to feel hopeless.
A random phone call from a close friend, asking me to please come over to her house for a couple hours, just to get a change of scenery. She greeted me at the door with a hug and a directive to come sit with her on her big fluffy couch. On the coffee table was the sweetest simple little picnic tray, lovingly and thoughtfully assembled: tuna salad sandwiches, iced tea, and a jelly jar of daffodils. My heart melted, and my mind transformed in that very instant. The face of Jesus in the tuna salad sandwich. Tangible encouragement…an encounter painted in holy oils, a forever image, to remind me He is always here and He understands.
Another time, God chose to speak through another dear sister, by the words she unknowingly said to me. On a day that she reached out to me for comfort and encouragement, I happened to be experiencing a particular day of discouragement. I was feeling like I wasn’t effectively being a good Christian. Trivial things were annoying me. I was struggling with the language barrier from living in a country that I am not fluent in the spoken word. In the United States, I can do ministry effortlessly, without the added obstacle of translation, and I was feeling pretty tired and useless. It was a rare for me, “poor me” kinda day. She didn’t know that, and I wasn’t going to “lay that on her” when she was in need of comfort…I would get over myself tomorrow, and shift focus. As the conversation winded down, she spoke these words, “Thank you for being Jesus with skin on to me.” There it was! Heart food, mind shift, tangible encouragement in words, forever etched in my spirit.
There is also the scripture incident. Handed to me by a fellow Pastor’s wife. She said that as she was reading her Bible that day, she read this and thought of me and my husband. She wanted me to have it. No specific reason that she could identify, just that it was for me. (He is cool like that) Handwritten in red ink on a small notebook page front and back, ripped out of a spiral, with the curly cues still attached; forever inserted into my Bible, peeking out at just the right moments for my review and refreshment:
2 Corinthians 6:3-10
In the Apostle Paul’s words:
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
My Prayer Today: “Papito Lindo, I pray to live up to all that you have called me to do. I am sorry that I cannot always be strong and confident, but I know that you understand. Please use me as a paintbrush in your anointing oil, that leaves encouraging images on the hearts, minds, and spirits of others. I am deeply grateful for the "Barnabas hearts" in those that you bring to speak into my life. I am also grateful for those you bring in front of me, using me, to speak into their lives. Bless them abundantly, as you have me. Grateful to be your daughter. Grateful for Jesus. Grateful for your Holy Spirit. Grateful for your Words of Life. And…grateful for the tuna salad.”😉