For the last five months, giving strength, has become a very heightened concept in my life. I recognize that it is a gift (for both the giver and the receiver) and I believe it flows from Jesus through our imperfect vessels. Have you experienced it? Giving strength to someone else? Have you understood that the time you spent listening to a person or encouraging them, gave strength?
For me, I have learned it most, through my Papua friend Ida. If you read these blogs frequently you will quickly remember Ida’s painful story (http://iwillgoruth.blogspot.co.id/2017/10/anguished-hearts.html). A story of high hopes only to be crushed by cruel death, taking not only one of her children, but two in the span of less than nine years. I knew when her second son died that I would walk closely with Ida. In the valley of death. Honestly there have been days when I have not felt that I had an ounce of strength to share and those are the days that I was probably used the most. Giving strength was nothing dramatic. It certainly wasn’t my words, as my language skills lack so much. Mostly I marveled and simply stood witness to how Jesus gave this broken hearted Mommy hope and continues to do so.
I have loved watching Jesus minister to Ida and how He is bringing healing into her life. One of the greatest evidences of love towards Ida is her baby son Joel. He just beams the most gorgeous smiles all day long. He invites everyone to smile back at him, including his mommy. Ida knows she has to be strong if for no one else than Joel and the rest of her family. We’ve planted flowers together. Unbelievably they were blooming within a month of planting them. I couldn’t believe it. Those long tubular large peach blooms were blooming so fast for Ida. Ida gave away all the little boy clothes, from her son that no longer lived, and expatriate friends have poured back into her life lovely baby clothes. Ida has testified of conversations with various people that have meant so much to her. She has begun journaling to the Lord again. She has taken new jobs on in the church and is teaching the Indonesian language. All of these different things have been evidence of healing and hope.
A month ago Ida came to visit me. Our guitar caught her eye. Upon asking her if she knew how to play, I took delightful Joel from her arms and placed the guitar in her hands. She began strumming cords and I invited her to sing. Feeble at first, the tune began to emerge. I recognized it as an older familiar song being sung in English. “One day at a time, Sweet Jesus.” Listen to the words of this chorus and how they fit with Ida’s life:
One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from You
Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine
So for my sake, teach me to take, one day at a time.
I had to fight back the tears and the wonder (of Christ in Ida) as I joined with Ida, on my couch, and sang with her this song. A few days later I quietly sang it over her, as we went to her son’s grave. Jesus giving strength through me.
This story really isn’t about the strength that I have given. Rather it is a testimony to the reversal of what is beginning to happen. I am so humbled to watch it unfold before my eyes. Now I am seeing my friend, give strength. Yes! Last week, Ida, knowing that I was alone while Darron was hiking in remote areas, came to encourage and give me strength. We laughed because she always tells me that I give her strength. It was so fun, to tell Ida that now she is giving me strength. This week, our mutual neighbor miscarried a full term baby. Ida is walking with this young mommy in the valley of death. Listening. Crying. Giving strength. And I marvel because now I know that Ida is going to be just fine. Oh, the pain is still so raw and the longing still so deep……but Ida now knows that there is great joy and strength to be found, by giving strength to others.
I asked Ida’s permission to write her story. She wants people to know. She wants Jesus to come soon. So Ida is doing her part to help hasten that day.
I don’t know what side of the strength cup you are on. The need to be filled? Or the need to let some flow out? Both are important. I have a tendency to minister so much that I can be left with a cup panting for fluid. So I am learning that balance is important and that I can only give as much as I have been still and received. The other thing I am learning is that, for me, there is no greater joy……than to be a vessel and give strength. Who can you impart strength to today? You are needed and you can be used. Even if you feel weak. I have no doubt that the reversal will happen and by giving , you will be made strong.