I recently had a very neat experience that I want to share. Last weekend I was on an airplane, flying home from a very rewarding trip to Southern California. I was feeling the onset of a very bad cold, and I was exhausted. I was sitting across the aisle from an Asian gentleman who tapped me on the shoulder and passed me a note. It read,
At the time I had my headphones in and I was watching the movie, “42,” (I love that movie BTW). I was amazed at the opportunity that God put before me to encourage this man. I thought of Philippians 4:4-7, so I talked with him for a couple minutes then read him the passage.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
It is a passage that has never failed to bring me peace when I am anxious in an uncertain situation. I gave him my Bible and he read the verses over and over again. I watched him as he took a deep breath and his whole body relaxed. It looked as if he had been holding his breath under water and he was now above water breathing in the oxygen again. He read my bible for a couple more minutes, and when he gave it back to me he had tears in his eyes. He told me he is applying for a work permit in Canada. He had already been refused and depending on what happened today, it would be a significant turning point in his life. He quickly summarized some other things that were going on in his life. It was one of those “fork in the road” moments for him.
There is nothing like being able to encourage someone at a significant time in their life with the truth of God’s Word. Seeing the way he responded and what it meant to him reminded me how life-giving the Bible is. It is the feeling of being filled. Like the satisfaction of quenching your thirst or being content after a great meal. God is Love, and God’s Word is Truth. It is also interesting how the one doing the encouraging feels just as encouraged as the one receiving the encouragement.
Whenever something like this happens I think of John 4:31-35, when Jesus told His disciples that he had food to eat that they didn’t know about. This was right after talking with the Samaritan woman at the well about giving her living water. That living water that flows from Jesus Christ through His Spirit.
“ Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something. But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other. Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.”
This airplane trip was one of those times that I experienced what Jesus was talking about. Doing the will of God (aka. sharing the Love and good news of Jesus), brings the greatest reward and sense of fulfillment. He is the bread of life. He fills and sustains. This was yet another reminder as to why it is so important to love and encourage others, even when I may not feel like it. I was feeling sick and too tired to talk to anyone, but God was still able to use me in my weak state. Just as He is the Bread, He is also the living water. Since the Holy Spirit flows through all those who believe in Him, we are able to give others that living water as well.
Finally, this situation convicted me as to how important it is to know the Word of God. God’s love letter to us is one of the greatest ways in which His Holy Spirit grows us and teaches us. It is an essential tool for the encouragement and loving of others. I am thankful I have the gentleman’s note as a reminder when I study and internalize the Word of God.