Thursday, April 5, 2012

E for Encouragement

Cindy Wayland shares her thoughts today.... Encouragement

“Encourage one another daily.” Hebrews 3:13

My son played baseball from the time he was four years old through his senior year of high school. For those of you who have or have had children/grandchildren involved in sports, you are well aware that there are those coaches and parents who encourage the kids on the team -- and then there are those “other” coaches and parents…

I must say that throughout his baseball “career,” I can’t recall any of Dennis’ baseball coaches being anything but encouraging. I remember his T-ball coach who worked with each of the kids on the team to encourage them and teach them to hit the ball off the tee, then run around the bases – “No, the other way – counterclockwise!”; and when they fielded the ball, to throw it to the kid at first base – or second base – or third base – or home plate. (They also grinned when the kids were picking dandelions in the outfield or kicking dirt in the infield…)

Several years later, when it was the kids pitching the baseball to the batters (rather than hitting the ball off a tee or the coach using a pitching machine), his coach asked Dennis if he wanted to pitch. Dennis was excited, but also nervous, about throwing the baseball at – I mean to – the kid with the bat. But this coach encouraged him after each pitch, “You’re doing a great job, Dennis!” With each word of encouragement from the coach, Dennis’ confidence as a pitcher grew.

A few years later, Dennis became interested in playing basketball. After playing a couple of years in a non-competitive church program, he wanted to try playing in a more competitive league. During one game, Dennis was wide open under the basket. The ball bounced into his hands and he made a beautiful lay-up – into the opposing team’s basket! The coach called a time out, yelled at Dennis for scoring for the other team, and sat him on the bench. Dennis’ love of basketball diminished somewhat that day, and he only played basketball for another year or two.

/>As Dennis continued through his baseball career – travel baseball, middle school, high school – his coaches continued to encourage him, especially with his pitching. By high school, he had perfected quite a few off-speed pitches, including a knuckleball that even his catchers didn’t like for him to throw because they never knew exactly where it was going to end up! But it usually caused the batter to swing and miss!! The encouragement of his coaches and teammates gave him confidence.

Do you know somebody who could use some encouragement today? Be on the lookout for those around you who are struggling and give them a word of encouragement – “You’re doing a great job!” “Keep up the good work!” “You’re so talented!” “You make me laugh!”

Or maybe you’re the one who needs to be encouraged. Well, here’s the greatest encouragement of all – you are a righteous and holy child of God, whose sins have been washed clean and are remembered no more, because of Jesus’ death on the cross. And in a few short days, we will once again celebrate Christ’s triumph over sin and death on a day that uses another “E” word – EASTER!

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