Thursday, January 7, 2016
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11(NLT)
Encouragement is almost tangible!
A memory: In 1967 a pair of 19 year old kids, facing the unknown of Vietnam and what the future might hold, decided to tie the knot. The local minister at the Smithtown Methodist Church agreed to juggle the schedule and marry us right at the end of that Sunday’s service. It was amazing how people just dropped everything and helped us put together (in only three days) a wedding with a full bridal party and reception in the church fellowship hall. So encouraging!
For our one-day honeymoon trip we drove to New York City to attend a Broadway play. It’s amazing how intimidating the whole nightlife scene of that city can be, even for people who grew up just an hour’s drive from the city that never sleeps. But we managed to locate the theatre, and it was such a relief when the parking garage was right across the street. An attendant took Elizabeth’s old 1960 Rambler and gave us a ticket stub; the car disappeared as he drove it into the tunnel entry. Valet parking! This was going to be first class!
The show ended late, and the people poured-out of the theatre; we were across the street in a jiffy, handing the ticket for our car to the attendant. While we waited the crowd thickened, until there seemed to be no end to the sea of people.
We were like young does caught in the headlights. The freezing New York February night air, a crush of thousands of strangers milling around, the noise of traffic, people shouting to be heard over the street sounds, and our old Rambler stuck in a 10-story parking garage – well, it all made for some anxious moments; would we ever make it back to sleepy, little Smithtown?
Our answer showed up right on cue. The first vehicle to emerge from that tunnel of an entryway to the parking garage was none other than our 1960 green and white Rambler with “Just Married” written in soap and chalk all over the front and sides. Balloons and streamers still hung from the rear bumper. It was a welcome sight!
Then the attendant yelled out our ticket number, and suddenly the whole world silenced as people stopped talking to check their stub; then ten thousand pairs of eyes fixed on the little green car with JUST MARRIED glaring off every surface as it rolled-up to where we stood.
As the young man in uniform escorted his bride of 36 hours to the passenger side of the little green Rambler and opened the door for her, the crowd (all 38 million of them) erupted in applause. I looked around to see if perhaps the stars of the Broadway show had appeared, but it became embarrassingly obvious that the mob was applauding Elizabeth and Russell.
That was nearly 49 years ago. But the encouragement of so many people who wanted to congratulate us and encourage us is an indelible picture moment that warms my heart as each February approaches.
Encouragement is supposed to be like that. It comes from unexpected places and always at the right, but most unlikely times. It might be a simple word, a comforting touch, a bill paid, an invitation extended, or one of a thousand other commonplace or extraordinary kindnesses…but encouragement lasts for a lifetime.
You might have missed the last time you had a chance to encourage someone; don’t miss the next one.